Create Three Endings to Tell an Emotionally Satisfying Story

Watch any mediocre or bad movie and the story will often feel forgettable and flat. That’s because the screenplay simply focuses on ending the story without any type of emotional resolution. The ending may not be bad, but it’s nothing special. As a result, the entire story winds up being forgettable.

Here are the three endings your story needs:

  • End the hero’s physical struggle
  • Resolve the hero’s relationship with a loved one
  • Resolve the hero’s emotional past

Look at the ending of “Star Wars” where Luke blows up the Death Star. That by itself ends the physical struggle and that’s where mediocre movies also end.

After “Star Wars” came out in 1977, Hollywood flooded the market with any type of space, science fiction story because they thought that’s what audiences wanted to see. The end result was a lot of horrible science fiction movies that simply ended by showing the hero achieving some kind of physical struggle.

Better movies don’t just show the hero achieving a physical struggle but also resolving a relationship with a loved one. This relationship typically helps that loved one resolve their own personal issues by changing through the hero’s influence.

In “Star Wars,” Luke helps change Hans Solo by fighting to destroy the Death Star. This convinces Hans that money isn’t everything so he comes back to save Luke and changes as a result.

Look t any good movie and you’ll find the hero’s actions in the end help change someone close to him or her. In “Legally Blonde,” the hero has helped her hairdresser friend get her dog back from an ex-boyfriend and find love in meeting a UPS deliveryman. Having the hero help change a loved one’s life for the better adds an emotional element to the physical battle the hero achieves.

If Luke had just blown up the Death Star in “Star Wars” without changing Hans’s life for the better, the victory over the Death Star wouldn’t have felt as important. That’s because physical goals are far less engaging than emotional goals.

Finally, the hero must change emotionally as well. In “Star Wars,” Luke has gone from an unsure, fearful farm boy into a confident young man. Achieving the physical goal also achieves the hero’s emotional goal at the same time.

If Luke had just blown up the Death Star but remained a timid, fearful farm boy, the ending wouldn’t have felt as appealing.

So when ending your screenplay, make sure you:

  • Show the hero achieving a physical struggle initiated from the start
  • Show the hero helping a loved one change for the better
  • Show the hero changing into a better person to resolve a past emotional problem

These three types of endings combined will create a far more engaging and emotional conclusion to any story than just a physical struggle ending in some way. Mediocre movies just end the physical conflict without any emotional change in the hero or loved one at the same time. That’s why those type of movies remain mediocre.

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