Screenwriting : Ending dilema by Rosalind Winton

Rosalind Winton

Ending dilema

Hi Everyone

I have completed a feature length screenplay, but I'm at odds as to how to end it.

The main bulk of the story takes place between 1903 and 1912, it is based on the true story of my great grandparents and I am using a postcard that my great grandfather sent to his wife in 1912 (which we still have in the family) as a link throughout the story.

Once the story of my great grandparents concludes, I want to tell the story of how the postcard was handed down through the decades to present day. I know my Grandmother had the postcard, but then it was lost for many years, until my sister and I were going through our parents things after they both died and the postcard fell out of a book.

It's a huge gap between 1912 and 1940 when I can pick the story of the postcard up again.

I don't know whether to end it once my great grandparent's story concludes, or to carry it on through the jump in time and tell the full story of the postcard and subsequent family involvement with it. It does kind of seem like another completely different story once the jump in time happens.

I understand the concept of story before fact, so I'm not sure. I would be interested to know your thoughts and opinions.

Thank you.

Karen Stark

It sounds more like a scene at the start of the story rather than the end. The discovery of the postcard leads the viewer into the story. I don't see what purpose it has at the end. Having said that it depends on how you have written the plot. It may well have purpose but it's impossible to say having not read the work. Personally the post card would fall from the book when the daughters search through their parents belongings and the story ends when the card is put into the book,

Joleene Moody

it is hard to say without reading it, but something's nagging at me that that window of time could be more significant than you let it.

Or, as Karen suggested, it could be the beginning of the story. If you were to start there, and it seems it could be a really compelling start, you could sprinkle in "stories of the past" (the now beginning of your screenplay) as you move forward to the end...where the postcard is put away and it is hoped it is not lost again.

it could end with her putting the postcard back in the book, shelving the book, and walking away, giving the viewer the sense that life still goes on.

Brian Shell

It kinda sounds like Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve.

I have a postcard postmarked in Paradise, Michigan. The stamp triggers memory too.

Imo Wimana Chadband

Joleene's concept is a great take!

I'm thinking the same idea as Karen, but in reverse...You can tell the story of your grandparents, and at the end scene, show the postcard falling out of the book, and being found when the daughters search through their belongings. It's kind of like a nostalgic feeling to close off the script. As if, the grandparents are gone, but the postcard carries on their legacy to the next generation.

And if you're really compelled to tell the story of the postcard from there on out, it has the added benefit of setting up the stage to write a sequel to the story telling the subsequent family involvement with it.

But these are just ideas, as we don't know the full story.

Brian Shell

I've had 2 clients who wanted to tell 30-year full-circle stories. When dealing with large time jumps, I advised watching Bridges of Madison County and The Notebook - also, Reversal of Fortune

Eric Christopherson

You could frame the story by both beginning and ending in 1940.

Christine Capone

What's the significance of the postcard? Does it expose a family secret? Knowing that can help you with the conclusion of your story.

John Michael German

If you want to mesh the now and the past, you all could show/write the visuals of you finding the postcard and then as it comes to view, as it falls out of the book, the story could almost blend back into the past in a very symbolic gesture.

Kind of an ending, where love within the postcard, even though lost, remained always within time and found again within sight...awakening the pasts life to relive itself once more.

Just some thoughts.

I appreciate your time and the love you have for those you love to show the world their love.

God Bless.

Bill Costantini

Hi Rosalind,

That's a really neat idea. So the main story has concluded, and now you want to do an epilogue-type of scene that is many years later, and with you and your sister. And then you want to have another scene or two that shows your grandmother in possession of the postcard, and then your parents, if I read that correctly.

You can really condense that maybe into one scene that spans those generations, as the postcard is handed down. Maybe there is a continuing sentence, where the three different generations speak parts of the sentence, as we see those three different images that span over the years? I hope that's clear. Maybe something like (just being spontaneous here, with setting dates in parentheses):

(1940's) This was my mother's postcard that her husband sent her, and now I'm giving it to you...FORWARD.....(1960's) and my mother gave me this postcard from her mother....FORWARD....(you and sister recently) that was great-grandmother's postcard from her husband from over 100 years ago.

Just riffing there...just trying to put the span of time in the dialogue...and maybe it needs some added dialogue to convey something to do with the love of family and theme or something...but that would be a cool kinda image, I think, and especially with the proper dialogues. The change in settings would be pretty clear, I think. And that could all be done in less than a minute, and maybe even like ten seconds for each part. I'm sure you get what I"m saying.

Best fortunes to you in your creative endeavors, Rosalind!

Rosalind Winton

Ohhh wowww, thank you all so much for your amazing comments, I really appreciate each and every one, I'll try and answer everyone's.

Karen and Joleene. I love that idea, I hadn't thought of having the postcard being put into the book, only of it falling out, which is actually what happened in reality, I was trying to avoid having modern day scenes at the beginning, because I have a very powerful start that takes the reader/viewer straight into the action, but as you have suggested it, I might try it again, thank you both.

Brian. I love that film, it's one of my favourites, but my script isn't like that at all, the characters don't go back or forth in time themselves, the story happens in real time through the decades, a bit like Atonement. I do have flashbacks, so that I can use cliff hangers and 'page turners' so to speak, but not in a time travelling way :) Also, thank you for your watching suggestions, I certainly will look those up, thank you.

Imo. Oooooooo, I love your ideas, I would never have thought of a sequel and yes, showing the card being put into the book many years before and falling out the book later, I really like that, the legacy idea is great too. Thank you.

Eric. Brilliant idea, don't laugh, but I actually have a character in my story called Eric lol, don't worry, he's a good guy lol. Yes, I could do that, I could have the daughter of my central characters telling her son the story, she gives the postcard to him, years later, he puts it in the book, forgets about it, then his daughters find the postcard when it falls out the book in present day, hmmmm, that's really intriguing. Thank you.

Christine. In my story, it's not about what the postcard says, it's about what the postcard represents, in the beginning of the story, the postcard is saved from destruction when my central characters are under attack and it's kept as a symbol of survival and hope, so that's the premise of the idea behind the postcard. I actually have the real thing on my mantelpiece and every time I look at it, knowing it has survived over 100 years (though in my story, it's a lot older) and through everything my family have gone through, it's like a staple 'thing' in our lives that is just always there, nothing happens to this little piece of card, but life goes on around it, it's incredible. I've always wanted to write this story and though I know only a few basic facts about my Great Grandparents, I've been able to weave a really great story around it. Thank you.

John. I love that idea, of meshing the present with the past and having a theme run through that, I think that's great, thank you.

Bill. Yes, that's exactly it, an epilogue. I was just worried that if I did that it would take away something from the main story, but everyone here seems to think it's a good idea, so I will stick with it. I really love the idea of using one sentence to bring the story down the generations, thank you for showing me how to set it out as well, that's a great help.

Okay, I've got some work to do LOL, thank you all again, so much, I really appreciate everything you've all said and I will take it all into consideration.

Christine Capone

Rosalind, got it : ) Sounds like a very interesting story but not reading it makes it difficult to help with the ending. Good luck with it though! I'm sure you'll come up with something after reading these brilliant ideas!

Rosalind Winton

Thanks Christine :)

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In