ending the story

The Company

New member
I've almost finished writing a screenplay for a short film about a man who is being haunted by the ghost of his brother, whom he killed a year ago to claim on the will. I'm having trouble with the ending though. Any suggestion on how to wrap it up?
 
D

Digigenic

Guest
Perhaps the first death, the death of the father, which led to the original dispute over the will can come back around to illuminate the entire story and provide an ending?
 

The Company

New member
Perhaps I should've given more detail. The two brothers were both wealthy and had an agreement that they would leave all their money to each other if one of them died. But one brother changed his mind and decided to give his money to his future wife. Before he got a chance to change his will though, he was killed by his brother. Now one year later, that brother is being haunted by the ghost of the brother he murdered.
I'm just struggling to come up with a way to end it. Practically the whole film takes place in the one house and I only want to use the two actors. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
D

DerekEastham

Guest
Ok,
I don't proclaim to be a writer by any means... but here's the way I tend to end my scripts.

Don't feel that you have to "END" it... just let it end.

Maybe your story dosen't "HAVE" to end... maybe you just reach a point at which the part of the story you're telling ends... but their lives continue.

So, my advice would be to follow your gut and just let the story end itself.
 

jodymichelle

Senior Member
Fun question. What's the storyline? I guess the ending should answer the story question. Also, every ghost wants something. Aside from revenge, is there something else that he wants, and if so, do you want him to succeed in getting it or not? Also, it would be cool to show some kind of change in the main character by the end of the story, and that will help you with your ending too - either he becomes a better person, gets punished in some way for not becoming a better person, or becomes a better person but gets punished in some way in the end anyway - whatever the case, he is not the same person as the beginning of the story. How long is the story? If it's super short, maybe you don't have time to tell the whole story, so if you're just presenting a flash of this person's situation, how do you want his actions (killing his brother) to affect him in the end? Is he sorry? Is he satisfied? Is he truly evil? Maybe you have time for a twist? Rather than just answering the obvious story question, maybe you want to create some kind of surprise ending? Is the star of the movie the man or the ghost?
 
D

Digigenic

Guest
Whoa, Jody...long time no see on the forums...Where ya been?
 
J

jrLongfellow

Guest
DerekEastham said:
Ok,
I don't proclaim to be a writer by any means... but here's the way I tend to end my scripts.

Don't feel that you have to "END" it... just let it end.

Maybe your story dosen't "HAVE" to end... maybe you just reach a point at which the part of the story you're telling ends... but their lives continue.

So, my advice would be to follow your gut and just let the story end itself.
Well, I proclaim to be a writer, so I can say with great confidence that what Derek said is correct. In fact, he told me the same thing.

Let the story end itself. Now, if it ends up to be 10,000 pages, you can edit down a little. There's only one thing that long, it's called the bible. And it's hella boring.
 

MarkG

New member
There's only one thing that long, it's called the bible. And it's hella boring.
How can you call the Bible boring with all that sex and violence? Personally, one of my dreams is to make a series of movies of the entire Bible, completely uncut... those long 'begatting' sequences alone should be a lot of fun :).

Back on topic, I often find it's better to work out the ending first and then build up the story to reach it. Finding a good ending is one of the most important things about a movie -- an audience will forget a lot of crap in the middle if you give them a good ending -- so starting there and working back can at least guarantee to give you that much.
 

jodymichelle

Senior Member
My favorite book is the Bible. :) I think I know what you mean by letting the story end itself, but what about the climax and crucial scene? Those things won't just come, they have to be planned out. In general, it helps to be more organized by using an outline.
 
D

DerekEastham

Guest
In general... when I'm writing... I find that the story tends to tell itself.

Basically, my philosophy is that the best writing is the writing that writes itself... in that you never have to force yourself to write... it just pours out of you.

I've found that my climax's & plot points just tend to pour out of me. Maybe this dosen't work for everyone... and I've used outlines in some cases as well... however, even when you use an outline, you shouldn't plan yourself into a corner...

Let your characters flow through the story as though it were happening to them... not as though they were happening to the story...
you'll end up with a much better script that way.

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. So let the outline guide you to your eventual goals... but let the characters take you through the story to those points...
and who knows,
maybe you'll even surprise yourself.
 

jodymichelle

Senior Member
An outline can't plan a person into a corner because outlines can be rewritten. With or without an outline, nothing is set in stone because you are the writer, and you are the creator. If you've accidentally planned yourself into a corner while using an outline or not, you can get yourself out of it. Things can be reworked, rearranged, or thrown out the window. An outline, when used correctly to help rather than hinder, acts more as a "blueprint" than a list of guidelines.
 
D

DerekEastham

Guest
jodymichelle said:
An outline can't plan a person into a corner because outlines can be rewritten. With or without an outline, nothing is set in stone because you are the writer, and you are the creator. If you've accidentally planned yourself into a corner while using an outline or not, you can get yourself out of it. Things can be reworked, rearranged, or thrown out the window. An outline, when used correctly to help rather than hinder, acts more as a "blueprint" than a list of guidelines.
Exactly the point I was making... ;)
However, I was making that point... because sometimes people begin to believe that their outline is set in stone.

Happy writing!
 

jodymichelle

Senior Member
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought you were making a few different points. You were talking about how you feel that you write - that "the story tends to tell itself." You mentioned "letting the story end itself," and you said you felt that "the best writing is the writing that writes itself... in that you never have to force yourself to write... it just pours out of you." You were talking about your approach to writing, but it also almost sounded like you were implying that outlines were limiting, which is why I responded that way, but I could have misunderstood you.

You mentioned, "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 think that outlines become limiting when they are used only as guidelines. There are rules and guidelines to building a condominium complex, but then there's the actual "blueprint" used to build it.

A lot of things pour out of people when they write, but how do they know that it's any good?

Maybe I don't know what you mean by letting the story end itself then. Good storytelling involves things like logic, good structure, timing, etc... I guess there's the option to plan these things ahead of time before you begin writing, and there's the option to just start writing, and when it's time to edit down, that is when you're going to start thinking about logic, story structure, timing, etc...

For some reason, I don't believe that a person could write a complete story without using an outline. Would they have to write their scenes in the order that they come in the story from beginning to end? If there wasn't a hard copy outline, I'm sure there was some kind of mental outline? :wink:
 
T

timindecisive

Guest
Re: ending the story

I would say the guy should go insane. I mean I'm sure he's talking to himself. And others might be questioning this man because of his doings. So then this can have an enormous effect on this guy, making him fell alone, insecure, and horrified.
So I gues you can end it with him all alone or in a nut house.
I really like your concept.

By the way at the begining Never Play The End.
Like if the ending is sad and hopeless, make the begining happy and fun.
It's an acting technique.
 
D

DerekEastham

Guest
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.
 

jodymichelle

Senior Member
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.

DerekEastham said:
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. :lol: 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. :roll: 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.

jodymichelle said:
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 :D But the story can't write itself or end itself, that's the writer's job.

DerekEastham said:
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 :)
 
D

DerekEastham

Guest
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 ;)
 

jodymichelle

Senior Member
I like to dissect things, so I'll continue to dissect without apology. :wink:

DerekEastham said:
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 :lol: )

Free-form? Poetry?

DerekEastham said:
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.

DerekEastham said:
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.


DerekEastham said:
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:

DerekEastham said:
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?
 
Top