Even the best stories often don’t find an audience while far weaker stories make millions. Yet one way to improve a screenplays chances of turning into a good movie is to tell a complete story.
To tell a complete story, a screenplay needs no loose ends. That means every question is answered and every villain is defeated.
In most movies, there are multiple villains who may or may not be working together. By the end of the movie, all of those villains must be defeated to create a complete and satisfying ending.
In “Die Hard,” not only does the main villain die when the hero pushes him out the window, but the main henchman also dies in the end when the hero’s mentor (Officer Powell) finally overcomes his fear and draws his gun to shoot and kill the last terrorist.
What happens when you don’t tell a complete story? Then you wind up with the audience feeling something is missing, which creates an unsatisfying ending.
In “Instant Family,” the hero is a father who adopts three kids. This father and his wife learn to finally bond with all three kids, who accept them as their parents so everyone winds up happy in the end.
On the other hand, “The Maze Runner” ends on a mystifying note. Throughout the entire story, we’re wondering why the hero is stuck in an ever-changing maze where animals are trying to kill him. By the end of the movie, we still don’t know why this hero is stuck in a maze with animals that are trying to kill him.
Imagine leaving a movie in the middle so you never see the conclusion. That would create an empty feeling in your mind because you don’t know how the story ends. That’s exactly the problem with screenplays that fail to tell a complete story.
The entire Young Adult (YA) genre is guilty of this because movies adopted from YA novels are always based on books that fail to tell a complete story (with the exception of “The Hunger Games”). Instead, YA novels represent a series so they tell a partial story to entice you to read the other two books in the trilogy.
Unfortunately, this makes for a horrible movie because movies are experiences. Fail to conclude this experience and everyone leaves unsatisfied. Think of all those awful “Star Wars” prequels the took three movies to tell us how Darth Vader came into existence.
So tell a complete story that can stand on its own. Complete stories always have a better chance of success than incomplete stories. You would think Hollywood would learn that by now.