Thursday, May 10, 2007

Scary Endings.

I told myself as I was going to sleep last night, "Tomorrow is the day." But now I'm feeling chicken. It would be much easier to just read my Alice Munro book or look at Internet porn all day instead of finishing the first draft of my screenplay.

I'm so close to the end of the story. Just a few short scenes. I'm not saying it'll be done -- it's a big hairy beast at this point and I know I'll be working on it for a long time -- but I will have written the story straight through from beginning to end. The first pass. It's a huge milestone.

The draft will be about 110-115 pages, a good length I think. I can trim the fat and still have a feature-length script. (A page equals a minute of screen time, so you want it be be at least 90 pages.)

But, endings are hard. Everyone knows that. Endings are the hardest part. So I'm shaking in my boots this morning.

When I was writing a synopsis for the Sundance lab program application, I came upon a new idea for an ending, which read well in the synopsis, but now I'm not so sure. It contains a surprise. Not a Sixth Sense-type surprise, just an unexpected turn in the characters' lives. And now, as I try to create the scene, it feels like too much is happening right there in the last few pages.

I love neat stories, but generally I'm a fan of the open-ended. The original ending was less an ending than just a point where we stop and walk away from these characters. The lead character was obviously changed by the events in the story, but subtly, and in a way that wouldn't have a big effect on his life except over time. The change was interior. Interior can be a problem for film, but stories where most of the action is emotional or psychological are the ones I find most interesting on screen.

Here's an idea: write two different endings. That could be less scary because I won't be committing to anything. I don't know -- two endings just feels twice as scary as one ending.

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