The Eighth 15 Minutes

The final part of your movie is what people will remember the most. You have to give the audience a satisfying, yet surprising ending. Whatever the case, the hero almost never wins easily because nothing goes according to plan.

The eighth 15 minute segment of a movie is when everything comes together and we finally get to see once and for all whether the hero wins or loses. There are several ways to end any story. First, the hero can win or lose, but that’s usually too boring. What usually happens is that the hero appears to lose, then suddenly finds a way to win. Or the opposite occurs where the hero appears to win, but suddenly winds up losing.

In “Halloween” and many horror films, the hero often seems to win when the serial killer is dead. Then suddenly the serial killer is gone and we realize that he’s still alive. Such a reversal helps emphasize the hero’s loss.

Working the other way, it can appear that the hero has lost, such as in “Rocky.” The fight ends, Rocky loses, but even though he lost, he proved himself tough enough to take on a champion and still stand on his feet. Rocky loses, but ultimately wins.

If you don’t want to have the hero win and then lose, or lose and then win, stack the odds against him before letting him win. Remember, nothing should ever come easy to the hero.

In “Die Hard,” Bruce Willis is down to his last two bullets. Now he limps into the confrontation with the villain and we feel like he can’t win with the odds stacked so heavily against him. Now when he does win, that victory seems so much sweeter than if he had just walked into the room with a bazooka and blew away the bad guys just by pulling the trigger.

In this eighth and final 15 minute segment of your story, the villain and hero must confront one another. This is the moment where one of them will achieve their goal, which means the other one won’t. This is the battle to the death and what we’ve been waiting to see all this time.

Where this ending can go wrong is by having the hero win through a means that has no connection with the rest of the story and doesn’t logically lead to a satisfying conclusion. In “The Net,” Sandra Bullock takes out the bad guy by bashing him on the head with a fire extinguisher, which had nothing to do with any part of the movie.

In any of the three prequel “Star Wars” movies (such as “The Phantom Menace”), there is no feeling of suspense that the hero is really into any jeopardy because the moment something happens, the hero’s magically uses “The Force” and gets out of that jam instantly. No suspense, equals a really bad movie.

The eighth 15 minute segment is really what your movie is all about with the hero battling the villain. This is the fireworks portion of your story. Make it big, make it tough, but most importantly, make it memorable.

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