ending the story

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  • #16
    Hi Jody,
    I think we're basically making the same points... but speaking about them from our own different perspectives.

    I find outlines to be useful... but I also find that some people might plan something out in an outline, and then feel that they can not deviate from that outline.

    It's not that you can't deviate & re-write outlines... but sometimes people just don't realize that... and that was the point I think we both made... from our own points of view.

    As for me... I usually just let a story begin to tell itself... my particular approach to writing is a seeries of writing, editing and re-writing every day... so that when I get to the end of my script, I've already re-written it a couple of times.

    Timing, structure & logic are important... but I don't necessarily believe that everything must be planned out... or implied before hand.

    Also... when i use the word guidelines... I think I use that word in the same way you've referenced blue prints... maybe this will help clear a bit of our confusion up.

    As for planning/etc... I think it's important to develope characters first. Get to know them as best you can. Create (or as I like to say... Find Out) their life story, their background... where they came from, who their parents were, where they're going, what their goals are... know them inside and out... then you'll know how they react to things.

    So I suppose that is a form of an outline... but I don't begin writing my story by outlining the events.

    I'll let the story pour out... and you're right, it's not always good... but something I've heard over & over again from many very wise and experienced individuals is that your first draft of anything is going to be "Crap."

    Not to say that it's bad... it's just saying that it's not the final polished version... and it never should be at that point. When you finish writing, you go back and enter the editing phase.

    You re-write once, twice, maybe even more times... until the story begins to work so well that you're just touching up your writing, and you've entered a polishing phase.

    When you finish the polish is really not set... sometimes the script will change a little in post production, when you realize that on paper it worked here, but visually you need something different or something more... or maybe it's cut out entirely...

    I'm not saying my approach is better, or that outlines are bad...
    I'm just saying that an outline should not be set-in-stone...
    which is what I gathered from your posts...
    we obviously take two very different approaches to writing, and each is as good as the other... because everyone writes a different way and the way they write works for them.

    Hopefully this clears things up a bit.

    As for the "let the story end itself" comment... what I mean by that is if you can find a natural ending to the story... a point when you no longer have more story to tell... then the ending wont seem forced, or fake, or weird... it'll just be "the end."

    Anyways, this is a great discussion on writing... but perhaps we should continue our writing discussion in a new topic...
    I think perhaps we've moved beyond the original subject of discussion that began this post.

    I look forward to continuing the discussion.

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    • #17
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      Jody Michelle Solis
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      • #18
        Hi Derek,

        Thanks for your reply. I think I have a better idea now of what you were saying in your posts. I'm not trying to say that a particular approach or writing habit is good or bad or better. Although my opinion is that outlines can become limiting when used only as guidelines rather than as a "blueprint," I'm not saying that blueprint can never be revised.

        Originally posted by DerekEastham
        Outlines are great... but they should be used in the same manner as the "rules" for writing a screenplay... with the exception of format, it's all just guidelines.
        What are the rules for writing a screenplay?

        I would like to know specifically what they all are but whatever they are, the rules and guidelines for writing a screenplay are completely different from a person's own blueprint for building, creating, and managing their story.

        Then again, I could have been taking your words too literally, and I apologize for that.

        I guess the reason why I responded in my previous posts the way that I did is because your posts reminded me of something completely off the subject, and if this post begins to get even more boring, feel free to click out. During my early teens, I often got discouraged from writing because I thought that if my writing wasn't spontaneous or so-called "inspired" by whatever muses, it wouldn't be any good. In a way, I thought that writer's block wasn't my doing and that writer's block happened because the writing muses didn't like me. I was too into the "mystical" part of it, but there's nothing mystical about creative writing. And their's nothing mystical about art. Art is artificial, and all writing is formula, and it can be appreciated. When I said that I don't believe that a person can write a complete story without using an outline, I meant it. If there wasn't a hard copy outline, there had to be some kind of mental outline whether that person realizes it or not. And sometimes when we get writer's block, it's because we don't like that outline in our heads, and we have to sometimes forget that it's there, but it's there.

        Originally posted by jodymichelle
        I think I know what you mean by letting the story end itself, but what about the climax and crucial scene?
        After reading your explanation, I see that I didn't know what you meant by that actually. I think I read an article about ten years ago by a famous writer in Writer's Digest, and he or she discussed "letting the story write itself" and "letting the story end itself." What that person meant (and what I can better understand) is ... that just means to "let go." When you're having a blockage, and when you're having trouble with, for instance, creating an ending for your story, just let go, it's not that serious, let loose, chill out and have fun But the story can't write itself or end itself, that's the writer's job.

        Originally posted by DerekEastham
        As for the "let the story end itself" comment... what I mean by that is if you can find a natural ending to the story... a point when you no longer have more story to tell... then the ending wont seem forced, or fake, or weird... it'll just be "the end."
        But it's not necessarily as simple as that. Art is artificial, and it requires manipulating elements and format to get a reaction from your audience.

        Anyhoo, enough of my boring chat. See you in the threads
        ___________________________
        Jody Michelle Solis
        Editor-in-Chief
        StudentFilmmakers Magazine
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        • #19
          Thanks for the response Jody...
          I'm glad we cleared up our little mis-understanding

          No appologies necessary though... everyone has a different style... I think mine might be best described as free-form (to an extent)...

          Anyhow...

          What are the rules for writing a screenplay?
          All I mean by rules... are the technicalities of writing for the industry... format (ie: tabs, font, etc.)

          You're absolutely right about "letting the story end itself..."
          It is the writiers job to do this... but I think we still understand eachother... that when you feel blocked, that it's good to just "let go" and write... see where your characters end up when you're ready to structure them again.

          I'm glad we cleared all of that up... because we really seem to be on the same page with different vocabularies

          Anyhoo...
          I'll see ya on the boards

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          • #20
            I like to dissect things, so I'll continue to dissect without apology.

            Originally posted by DerekEastham
            No appologies necessary though... everyone has a different style... I think mine might be best described as free-form (to an extent)...
            I wasn't apologizing for that though. (I also don't want the administrator to kick me out )

            Free-form? Poetry?

            Originally posted by DerekEastham
            All I mean by rules... are the technicalities of writing for the industry... format (ie: tabs, font, etc.)
            If that is what you mean by rules, then we were talking about different things and making different points.

            On another note, I thought you meant the guidelines for writing a story, such as, have a beginning, middle, and end, introduce all your main characters in the beginning, the beginning should consist of a plot or storyline, the ending should answer the storyline or story question, etc....I was looking forward to reading the rules for writing a screenplay, what's acceptable, what's not acceptable, but that's a different subject.

            Originally posted by DerekEastham
            Outlines are great... but they should be used in the same manner as the "rules" for writing a screenplay... with the exception of format, it's all just guidelines.
            I'm not going to tell a person how to write, but outlines shouldn't be reduced to simply tabs, font, and margin size, or that would limit the purposes of using an outline. And anyway, the suggested format for submitting a manuscript is not necessarily as rewritable as one's own story outline.


            Originally posted by DerekEastham
            You're absolutely right about "letting the story end itself..."
            It is the writiers job to do this... but I think we still understand eachother... that when you feel blocked, that it's good to just "let go" and write... see where your characters end up when you're ready to structure them again.
            Did you say the word, structure? Does that structure have anything to do with that mental outline? We understand each other now, but previously, you were talking about something completely different. You said:

            Originally posted by DerekEastham
            As for the "let the story end itself" comment... what I mean by that is if you can find a natural ending to the story... a point when you no longer have more story to tell... then the ending wont seem forced, or fake, or weird... it'll just be "the end."
            But it's not as simple as that. How does one find that natural ending? What elements does the ending need to address for the story to have closure and for the audience to feel there is atleast some kind of closure if not complete closure? And even if one can find a "natural" ending, what's the guarantee that it will communicate as "natural" and believable?
            ___________________________
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            Editor-in-Chief
            StudentFilmmakers Magazine
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            • #21
              Oh what a tangled web we weave.....from hence forth this thread shall be known solely as the loopdy-loop.

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              • #22
                What I meant by free-form... I'm probably using the wrong wording here... The style I use, is that I wait until I feel the urge & need to write... then I just sit down and let it pour out of me. I just empty's out onto the page... then I go back and edit it several times.

                Not the best way to write... but you're right about the mental outline... I've always got one before I begin... and the story tends to stick to that... though even that outline rewrites itself several times over.



                About when I wrote "Structure"... I totally used the wrong wording... terrible english there... I meant that when you've reached another point where you know what's going on and you no longer feel blocked, then you can write in the more structured manner that you had before...
                maybe I should drop this point, because I think I've lost my point in here... somewhere...


                As for finding a natural ending... I know it can be a very hard thing to do... especially when you've invested so much time and effort into a story...
                Maybe it's just a part of the way I write... but I always begin writing when and where the story begins in my head... and I stop when the story in my head just... runs out.
                There's really no other way for me to explain it... not literally at least... but perhaps I can create a metaphore to explain what I mean...

                The way I understand films... be they shorts, features or anything inbetween... is that they are moments in time... they don't necessarily always start at the very begining ore end at the very end of a story... they simply cover a moment of time, during which the story takes place.

                Therefore, I never feel trapped by where to begin or end the story... my stories don't have to start at birth and end at death... maybe they begin on Monday and end on the following Thursday... maybe they cover only a few moments... it really all depends on which moment in time I feel that I must tell.

                A really good example of what I mean, is my short film entitled "The Duel." It begins on a dock... there's a good guy & a bad guy... they face off in a duel reminiscient of the old west... and when they draw to fire, the movie ends... credits roll, and the guns fire...
                The reason I bother to synopsize my film... is to show you the specific moment in time that my story covers... the film begins where the story begins in my head, and ends where it ended in my head.
                Lots of people would probably say that I took the easy way out... leaving the ending upto the audience... but to me, it was all I had to tell... instead of forcing myself to write something I didn't have inside me, I decided to go with my gut and end it right there... I also like that it's not clear who wins, but that's not the point.

                Hopefully this helps you to understand my thoughs on how I write... and what I meant by allowing the story to end itself. There's closure... but it's upto the audience to fill in the blank at the begining and the end... How did it begin? Who wins? I seriously don't know... I intend to oneday write a feature script based on this short.

                As for the guarantee of communicating a "natural & believable" end to the audience... well, there is no guarantee...
                the only way to discover that, is to gather several test audiences... show them the film when it's nearly done... and gauge their reactions... ask what they liked, what they didn't like...
                and remember, if they liked the film and they want to know what's next, or they want more... it dosen't necessarily mean that the film dosen't end well... it means that perhaps you should continue the story in another film... perhaps, if it's inside of you, it's worth telling the next part of the story.

                Ok... I think I'll wait for you to respond to that section before we discuss it any further...



                However, there was another bit that you asked me about... or perahps "prompted" is a better describing word here...

                I was looking forward to reading the rules for writing a screenplay, what's acceptable, what's not acceptable, but that's a different subject
                Well, you're absolutely right that this is a different subject... but this is also where opinions come into play.

                As I understand it... there is a level of gramar and form expected of a screenplay... and there are standards that determine what is and is not acceptable... however, it all depends on where you want your script to go.

                Here are these standards & "rules" as I understand them: (in no particular order)

                > screenplay's are just that... they're screenplays... save the shot descriptions, angles and other techno-mumbo-jumbo for a shooting script

                > never assume that the reader will know what's happening in a scene. If you don't write that "Jayne picks up a hairbrush" they're not going to know that she picked up the hairbrush... they aren't mind readers, they're script readers.

                > Do not write in the following manner(s): "We see....." "Jayne give a smile to..." "Now we see..." "They picked up..." "they sat up" "Now the sound of _________ can be heard"
                This is just bad taste, and inappropriate tense & form for a script for the following reasons:
                #1 - "We" don't "see" anything... just tell us what's happening, don't tell us that we're seeing it, because you'll make that happen when you shoot it, at the moment, we're not seeing it, we're reading it.
                #2 - Who is "we" anyways? we as in you and I? what about the audience, them too? who was "we" when you wrote it? (it just dosen't make any sense)
                #3 - Nobody ever "gives" someone else a smile... they simply "smile at eachother." Never give it, just do it.
                #4 - Now nothing... I know it's now, because I'm reading it right now... if it was going to happen earlier or later, it should be written then, not now... never bother with "now" in a script... ever... unless it's dialogue.
                #5 - When you're writing a script, no-one ever "sat" or "picked" up anything... they just "SIT" or "PICK UP"... scripts are in the present tense, because it's happening at that moment, so we see them pick it up... if they already "picked" something up, then they're now holding it... Present Tense!
                #6 - When a sound is going to be heard, you should describe what is happening to create the sound. "Traffic passes behind Jacob as he walks toward Jayne" describes that the sound of traffic will obviously be heard when he's walking toward Jayne... we don't need to know that "Now the sound of traffic can be heard as..." however, there are some instances some of you might question... when noise is all that's happening, how do you write that (ie: over black)... well, "the sound of glass breaking can now be heard," is not how it goes... it would be better written:

                BLACK

                A window breaks. A teapot whistles. Jacob scuttles across the floor.

                FADE IN:
                .....

                (please forgive the lack of proper formatting on the web)

                Then we'll know that the sound of a window breaking and a teapot whistling... how and when you want them to happen, is a decision for production and post production... and something you should write in your notes... always take notes.

                Ok, so that's a basic run-down of the "rules" as I understand them, for writing a screenplay... be it a short, a feature, or something else.

                Can't wait to continue the discussion!

                (This is loads of fun!... seriously )

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                • #23
                  A-ha! So you admit that you use some form of an outline. So that ends one loop.

                  Regarding your example of "The Duel," I've never seen it, but the way that you described it, I wouldn't necessarily classify or define that as a "story," but it sounds more like a "scene." But that's a different subject. What parts would define it as a story? What elements need to be present for a composition to be classified as a story or tale rather than just a scene or a few scenes put together?

                  Originally posted by DerekEastham
                  As for the guarantee of communicating a "natural & believable" end to the audience... well, there is no guarantee... the only way to discover that, is to gather several test audiences... show them the film when it's nearly done... and gauge their reactions... ask what they liked, what they didn't like...
                  What if the test audiences are biased? But that's a different subject. That's the only way to discover that? I'm sure there are also ways for a person to analyze his or her own script and story structure so that they feel atleast a little bit convinced that they provided what they believe to be a good story with a natural ending. There are techniques in storytelling and script writing that can assist in providing a more natural and believable ending to one's story and help the writer to double check his or her work for consistency.
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                  • #24
                    As for a viewing of my film, "The Duel," the music clearance should be coming along in the next few weeks... at that time, it'll be live and streaming on several web-sites, including my own... and maybe/hopefully this one?

                    As for how I define a story... it has something that feels like a begining... a middle, and an end... however, so do scenes...
                    Scenes begin, have a middle, and an end.

                    The reason that I refer to "The Duel" as a story, is because it is just that... only it's a short story. A story dosen't necessarily have to be told in multiple scenes or 30 minutes or longer... it just needs to be told, and in the world of filmmaking the storyteller is the filmmaker

                    The elements that I would classify as "necessary" for a story to be classified as a story instead of a scene are:
                    #1 - A Begining
                    #2 - A Middle
                    #3 - An End
                    #4 - A Problem
                    #5 - A Resolution

                    Now, does the beginning or end necessarily have to be all there is to tell... not in my opinion...
                    For instance... I truely love the fact that the end of the Kill Bill saga leaves open the possiblity that the story might continue someday... Beatrice, her daughter & Ellie are still alive... so is Nikita... so, there's no absolution to the closure of the film... yet when part 2 "ends", it feels as though the movie is over...


                    As for your coments on determining if an ending works or not... you're right... a test audience isn't the only way... and they're not going to be an absolute opinion...
                    However, you must realize that wether a single person, a test audience or even ten thousand people love the way your film ends... it still does not garuntee that every person who sees the film will like the ending, or feel that it was a good or natural ending.

                    It's easy enough to gauge your own ending... using test audiences can help you determine (in general terms) how many people (percentages) your ending will work for...

                    And yes... I do admit to using an outline... but it's mostly mental... I don't work very well from the written down outlines... but the mental outline that we all have is always present in my work. you got me there


                    I'm curious how you define a "story" as opposed to a "scene"...

                    myself, I believe a story can be told in one scene... it would just be a short story... and in essence, each scene of a movie tells a short story that is connected to the whole... each scene is a moment in time, and each preceding and following scene is not necessarily immediately there after...
                    so, in essence... the short film does not necessarily have to be anything more than a scene (if that fits your story)... but it should still feel as though it begins and ends... wether the story ends or not... is, in my opinion, irrelevant... perhaps that's just me... perhaps not... but that's just my own point of view...

                    Looking forward to hearing from you again!

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                    • #25
                      No, the beginning or end doesn't have to be all there, but then one would have a poorly written story.

                      Who is still alive? I didn't see Part 2 yet. Maybe I will rent it tonight. ... Well, in the case where you're going to have sequels, the ending doesn't give complete closure to the story because if it did, why would anyone want to see the sequel for? But the "ending" of the first Kill Bill did technically give closure to the plot in that it answered the storyline/story question, which had to do with revenge. Did the main character get her revenge? Did she succeed in killing the people on her list? The answer is either "yes," "no," or "yes, but..."

                      I don't think a story can be told in one scene. There are short stories, short shorts, flash fiction, etc., but a clip showing one scene is more like a sound byte.
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                      • #26
                        I think you misunderstand what I mean by "Begining" and "Ending"... there's always some form of a begining or ending to a story... wherever you jump into the story line at...

                        what I mean by saying that you don't always have to have those... is that you don't have to start the movie at the birth of your main character and end it with their death.

                        At the end of part 2, I won't say who's still alive here... don't like to post spolers for anyone who hasn't seen it... so I'll PM it to ya.

                        As for the telling of a story in one scene... well, it all depends on the story... to each his/her own, but I've seen many really great shorts that are all of one scene...
                        I've also seen many that have more than one scene that are also great...
                        it just depends on what the story is... and how the director is going to tell it.

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