Bloginar: Beginning at the ENDING

Before you write the first word of a screenplay, you should know 3 things:

1.  Who is your main character?

2.  What is going to happen to your main character?

3.  How does the story end?

Beginning a screenplay without knowing the ending is kinda like riding a bike in the dark.  You can’t see where you’re going and so you’re fairly likely to hit a tree or fall into a ditch. 

The obvious question is: If I haven’t got the beginning written, how do I know how it should end?  It’s YOUR story.  YOUR story world.  YOUR characters.  How do you want it to end?  How do you think the characters would want it to end?  How do you think the audience would want it to end? 

Some more tips on endings:

If you can’t think of how to end your story, think about your beginning and try to reflect that in the end.  For example, the movie Monsters, Inc. begins with the monsters in the factory beginning their shift of scaring children.  At the end of Monsters, Inc., we see the monsters in the factory beginning their shift of making children laugh.  In the middle, they’ve been through drama, trauma, laughter and tears.  They’ve learned lessons.  But the beginning and end mirror each other. 

Here’s my story: 9-year-old Billy loves his dog, Charlie.  In the beginning of the movie, we see Billy throwing a ball for Charlie and laughing as Charlie chases it.  We see Billy and Charlie chasing squirrels and birds through the woods together.  We see Billy falling asleep at night with Charlie curled up across the foot of his bed.  In the middle, maybe Charlie gets caught in a bear trap and badly injured.  Maybe we even think that he’s going to die.  But at the end, we see Billy and Charlie sitting on the bank of a creek.  Billy is fishing and Charlie is sitting on the bank next to him.  They are together again.

Another important rule of screenwriting is that you don’t leave “loose ends.”  Don’t leave your audience hanging.  If there’s a mystery, solve it.  If there’s a conflict, resolve it.  If there’s a possible romance, either break them up or put them together.  Whatever you do, complete the story for your reader.

Last week, we practiced with an example that I provided.  But this week, it’s your turn.  THINK about your story.  You know your characters.  You have some idea of your story.  But what’s The Ending? 

GMS students, break up into your groups and DISCUSS your story.  Decide how you want to END your story.  Write it down in your notes.  You don’t have to be fancy.  Just jot down your ending. 

Now, discuss how you want to BEGIN your story.  Jot your beginning down in your notes. 

Remember that your story is a straight line.  The beginning is at the far left hand end of the line.  The ending is at the far right hand end of the line.  Now, discuss with your group how to connect your beginning and your ending.  Make sure you write down ALL of your ideas, because next Friday, we’re going to use them!

Good job, you guys!  Keep thinking.  Keep writing.  And most of all– have fun!

About Sarah Salter


  1. Though I’m not a screenwriter, I found this very informative in my own writing. Excellent insights!

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