Beginning Relates to the Ending

Now that you've determined where and when you'll open your story you have to know that in a well-structured screenplay the beginning should always relate to the end. What do I mean by that statement? Let's suppose you want to write a murder mystery. Before you start your story you must know how it is going to end. You need to decide in advance if you'll have the murderer caught or if you'll have him escape in the end. Will he be arrested, convicted, sent to prison, flee to another country or be killed? As you can see, until you know the ending you won't be able to write a single word. How can you possibly plant the necessary clues or foreshadow events to solve your story if you don't know in advance how it will end? How can your characters be properly motivated to behave in a realistic manner? How can you set up red herrings or twists and turns for your plot if you don't know how the mystery ends?

You can't. Many writers have avoided trying to know the ending in advance and they usually ended up with an illogical plot. To further illustrate this point, let's suppose you have a young woman killed in the opening of your story. If you decide in advance that by the end her boyfriend has an air-tight alibi and is innocent, your story would be completely different than if in the ending he was apprehended and confessed to the crime.

If you had a story where you wanted the boyfriend to be guilty, but never caught, then in the end, you might show him being with a beautiful woman sipping exotic drinks in a foreign country. Al though the opening is the same in all examples, your ending will determine the direction the entire story and your characters will take.

Successful screenplays have a definite structure and all the scenes lead to the climax and resolution of the plot. That's why it's important for you to know your ending FIRST. Once you have your ending then ask yourself, "Where do I open my story?" "What will be the best opening I can have?"

In developing your opening you must do several things. You need to introduce your main character of your screenplay, reveal the problem or mystery that must be solved, and ask the dramatic question that must be answered. Your opening will only make sense if it relates to the ending. In other words it's really impossible for you to know where to open your story unless you have some idea of how you want it to end. Of course, the ending might change many times, but at least you need an arbitrary ending so the seeds of it will be planted in the opening. By doing this you'll enable your main character to have an immediate goal he or she must reach. The opening which needs to be dramatic rather than static immediately begins the action of your story.

A screenplay or a television movie is really nothing more than a search for reasons. You state the problem in the opening scene and then search for reasons to develop it throughout the entire script until you solve it in the climax. In your opening something must immediately happen to set off your story and to capture your audience's interest.

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