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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions (often with a humorous eye) about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I'm in my third act, but there's so many things to tie up that it's driving me nuts.  Can you comment?

A. Cummings from London


This week's Answer: 

End the Loose End

A. Cummings, I appreciate your letter and I know it can be a challenge when you have to wrap up everything by the end of a screenplay.  Why do they have to make it so hard for us screenwriter's, right?  I mean, couldn't they just let us write our screenplays the way we wanted and leave as many loose ends as we wanted?  What's wrong with a few loose ends here and there, anyway?  What's the big deal about all this tying up loose ends, in the first place?  I say leave the ends loose if that's what they want!  Let the Loose Ends Loose!  Let The Loose Ends Loose!  Sorry.  I get a little carried away with causes. 

Here's a few tricks of the trade for tying up loose ends:

Tricks of the trade for tying up loose ends

1.  You can always tie up your protagonist, especially in your third act.

2.  You can always tie up your female protagonist if she's attractive, especially in any act.

3.  Any rope in your screenplay should either be tied up or, if you let it be loose, you'll probably want to burn down the building that holds the rope.

4.  Follow Roy Roger's creed:  "You never let your rope dangle (or you're bound to be run over by cattle or something else that doesn't like dangling ropes).

5.  Write backwards.

When I say, "write backwards," I don't necessarily mean to backup when you're writing.  (Although that could produce some very interesting stories.  Actually, I think that's how the writer of Memento came up with his screenplay).  What I do mean is that if you are aware of all your story threads at the end of your story, then you'll already know how to tie them up.  I guess I'm quite proficient with this subject because I was such a proficient Boy Scout.

My first badge was in tying loose ends. 

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