1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Is it me, or does this ending kind of suck?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Oct 14, 2015.

    I wasn't sure how to end my screenplay, after a few rewrites and I gave some readers and writers a selection of endings to pick from. Most picked this ending as the best:

    Basically the cops are tailing the villains hoping they will commit another crime to catch them in the act, and take them down. They follow the gang around for a few days or even weeks, and I can show them following the gang around for a long amount of time in a montage. After that, the gang commits their next crime and the cops stop them in the act.

    However, the ending keeps rubbing me in a bad way, and I just can't help but feel there is something wrong with it. For one thing, the cops do not have to do anything to get the villains to incriminate themselves, nor do they have to stop the threat by a certain time limit. Usually in thrillers it seems the steaks are higher, yet these cops are free to keep watching them for who knows how long till they finally commit their next crime and can be caught. It feels like the villains are throwing the heroes a bone, and the heroes just have to sit back and wait, without really having the challenge of having to do more than just sit and wait. It feels like the villain's give them a freebee.

    Another thing is, that if the cops cannot do anything but wait for the villain to commit their next crime, they will have no choice but to stop their next crime when they arrest them, obviously. This means that in the end, the villains will be charged with attempted kidnapping and nothing more. But that kind of charge is a much lesser sentence, compared to all the previous kidnappings and murders they committed before. Even though the cops now caught them with attempted kidnapping, in the act, they cannot link that to any of the previous ones. And the crooks won't talk about the previous ones of course, cause that will just get them into more trouble obviously.

    So it feels to me, that the villains throw the police a bone for the police to get lucky and catch them, and not only that, but the bone they threw will now yield a much lighter sentence, than deserved.

    But I was told by other writers and readers, that perhaps that's a strength to play off of, but to me it doesn't really feel set up for that them wise. But I was told I over analyze it.

    I also do not know if I like the idea of having a climax have a montage in it. Usually montages are used for effect earlier in a story, but to have your big climax in a thriller have one, till the crooks commit a crime after waiting, just comes off as possibly anticlimatic for me.

    But maybe I doubt myself too much and the others are right. What do you think? Is that a really good ending, or is their something wrong with it at all?
     
  2. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    While waiting, the cops are taken off the case for "wasting time". They're deployed to a crime in progress, and when they return to the station, they're told the criminals they were following before have struck again. Now they have to chase the criminals down before they can do whatever it is they plan to do with their victim.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Yeah but if they stop following the villains, then they will not know where the villains went with the victim, so it doesn't do any good, or how will they find the villains again really if they take their eyes off them?

    In the other endings I have come with, the cops loose track of them and then find them again, but I was told that those lead to plot holes. By writing it so that they never loose sight of them the whole time, it eliminates any holes I had before. However, it may be possible to write it so that they find them again without a plot, that I have missed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  4. ToeKneeBlack
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    It could be that another, less experienced (and lower paid) officer was assigned to watch the criminals.
    He alerts the main characters and gives chase while his colleagues catch up.
    The younger officer is also captured and taken hostage, but the others are able to track his radio.

    Just one possibility.
     
  5. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Vide the case of Julian Assange...police are no longer "blockading" him inside the embassy, as we've spent £12 million on it already.
     
  6. Mallett
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    Mallett New Member

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    How about letting the cops set up a trap to catch the villains? I don't know what kind of crimes your villains commit, but for example if they kidnap kids of rich people for ransom, the cops could set up a fake tv report about a rich mogul visiting town or something like that.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But my other endings had ideas like that though, where they set a trap, but I was told that there were too far fetched, as it relies on the police having the ability to predict what the villain will do, and then the villain will conveniently do it, much to the luck of the police. It's too convenient that it would work, since the cops are not mindreaders I was told. That's why they said they like this ending because catching them in the act is more believable, then predicting what a person will do so correctly.
     
  8. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    You obviously must not get out much. The FBI has people specialized in doing just that. If worse comes to worse the FBI will step in and help them out. Also the police will most likely put out a call to other police stations... well I guess it depends on where or when the story takes place.
     
  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I could write it that way, so the police find them just by putting out calls and looking around, if that's what you mean. But doesn't that come off as too easy and not challenging enough? I mean if the police just look around and spots one of them on the street, and decides to follow him around? It just seems kind of convenient, unless you mean something else.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Remember how I suggested that you just sit down and brainstorm dozens and dozens and dozens of ideas? Did you ever do that? Why not?
     
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  11. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Yes I did do that. I wasn't able to come up with dozens and dozens but I was able to come up with a few. And this was the best one according to others.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keep coming up with more. "A few" apparently isn't enough. Your big problem, as I see it, is getting focused on one idea that simply doesn't work. To me, that means that you need to work on producing more ideas.
     
  13. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. A lot of the ideas I come up with I quickly realize they will not work, so I abandon them and only concentrate on the few that might. Is that the wrong approach and I should concentrate on all ideas, even if I instincts tell me they are dead ends?
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Come up with a lot of ideas, a LOT of ideas. I recommend at least one hundred for whichever plot element you're trying to figure out. Just write each one as one line, one after the other. Don't analyze them and try to fit them into the plot before you write them down, just write them down. As you write them, ideas will spark other ideas and other thoughts, and those will spark more ideas and more thoughts. That's never going to happen if you stop after just a few.
     
  15. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I already have the first half of my outline, up to the midpoint climax. I don't know if I cam come up with a hundred resolutions that could come out of that first half, but maybe there is. I will write them down and see what happens. Thanks.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If an idea looks good but conflicts with part of what's already written, what's already written can be changed.
     
  17. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Yeah but I was told before by other writers to keep the first half as is, and I think I should do that. It's not until after the midpoint climax that the MC needs a change of plan so all I have to do is come up witha new plan at that point. I mean the MC needs a way to catch the villains, and even with the first half as it stands right now, it is still possible to catch the villain in the end, and I just need to come up with a new method, after the midpoint climax.
     
  18. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    To be honest. Some stories aren't meant to have a compelling ending. Good example of this is No Country for Old Men. Main protagonist is abruptly killed off, and the antagonist gets away. Sure it doesn't have the most compelling ending, but I can still enjoy it for it's more realistic ending. Instead of having everyone live happily ever after the antagonist wins for once.
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    You don't have an ending. You can't judge the first half until you have an ending that the first half can support.
     
  20. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I thought I would try to take the new approach I wrote about here:

    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/should-i-write-the-first-half-before-knowing-the-ending.142027/#post-1382266

    The approach of writing half the story first, and then deciding on an ending after. That way I can build into an ending naturally. I think my problem is, is that every ending I come up with I do not know how to build into, once it's invented. Characters have to make illogical decisions or the plot becomes too complicated. So I thought I would try the new approach that was recommended, and come up with a premise first, where the character's decisions determine the ending instead. Should I still come up with the ending first and build into that?
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's possible that I imagined writing my suggestion that you come up with 100 brainstormed endings. Maybe it was all a dream.

    Edited to add: There was also your thread where you asked about rewriting it from the beginning and having your character do logical, in-character things. That was a good idea. You seem to have abandoned it.

    Absolutely every idea seems to be abandoned, and you return to the implausible plot that you have so far. And the implausible plot is implausible.
     
  22. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I came up with three new endings so far, and coming up with more. Isn't that the thread I posted it, where I said, in your quote? That's what I was planning in doing, have the character do logical things, unless you are talking about a different thread.

    This one here.

    http://www.writingforums.org/thread...efore-knowing-the-ending.142027/#post-1382266

    However, if I take that approach, I cannot come up with hundred new endings, because I would have to come up with a hundred different beginnings instead, right?

    Every ending I have come up with so far, there is one thing they all have in common. The MC catches the villains in all of them. It's pretty much the approach that is taken in each that is different. Should I stay away from endings where the MC catches them all on his own? Perhaps this is one my problems and that the MC needs help from other characters.

    Perhaps the main villain can turn good and turn on his associates and I can come up with a hundred endings for that. But then would people think that the MC has too much help and it's not challenging enough, if I use that idea, for several different endings, to pick from?

    I read once from an article on fiction writing, and it said that a lot of authors when it comes to thrillers, make the mistake of giving the hero too much help from other characters, rather than the hero being forced to do things on his own. However, do you think that help from characters who are close to the villains help sometimes, and it's worth it?

    When it comes to characters making in character decision, how do you know that that character would do that, as oppose to someone else telling you that that character would not, and he would do something else entirely instead?
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
  23. ToeKneeBlack
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    Let's look at this logically - do the police know who the villain plans to kidnap, or are they an opportunist, going after anyone who takes their fancy?

    What are the motives - ransom, sex or something else?

    Looks like the kidnapper is also a killer - does he kill all of his victims differently if there's nothing to link him to the previous crimes?
     
  24. Ryan Elder
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    It's about a gang of serial killer types that have been going around committing murders for months and getting away with it, careful not leave any forensic evidence at the crime scenes, and not leaving any scents for the police dogs to pick up on.

    Basically the killers were traumatized by bullies while in school growing up, and their targets are those who are bullies to general people in their lives. They also are very lonely in their personal lives, causing a lot of hate, and go after a lot of members of the opposite sex, they feel deserve it.

    So those are the targets. For the police to predict the next target, a lot of people are fit that profile, so the range is quite broad, if that makes sense. I can go with the police predicting the next victim per say, but not sure how they would do it since almost all of the members of the gang are unknown. The police know that the crimes are link because the villains have been sending message to the media and public, stating why they are doing what they are doing, as a way to put fear into society and punish them, or at least that is what they hope to gain of course.

    However, even if the police predict the next victim, the police would still have to arrest the gang, before the gang can kill the victim, and thus, they are still only charged with an attempt, of a felony, and therefore still do not do near as much jail time for the ending, unless they can somehow link the evidence of the new attempted crime to the previous ones.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
  25. ToeKneeBlack
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    As much as criminals try to hide their tracks, this is a gang. They'll have different personalities. One of the gang members could have a habit of using the same weapon each time - power tools, knives and blunt objects all leave different, distinctive markings on bodies.

    Assuming this gang member is involved in some or most of the murders, he'll leave his tell-tale marks. Even guns aren't immune - each gun, even those of the same model, leaves distinctive markings on every bullet they fire. It's possible to take two bullets from two bodies and say if they came from the same gun or not.

    Also, as good as police are supposed to be, everybody has a past. It could be that one of the officers used to be a bully. The gang could target her while she appears to be off duty, when really she's undercover on a different assignment. Given the sheer number of murders, this is bound to happen eventually, rather than being a happy coincidence.

    Now let's say our police officer is wearing a "wire" for the assignment she was on - she might try to give her supporting officers clues as to what's going on and where she's been taken without alerting the gang right away.

    If they find her before the gang kills her, and a gang member has the gun, distinctive knife or other weapons used in earlier murders, they can link them to the gang.

    This is one scenario which would give you the race against time you need for a climactic ending.
     

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