Denouement Experiment

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  • Denouement Experiment

    My goal is to make the denouement of my story a bit more visual, dynamic and dramatic. Here's what I had in mind:

    Original ending: My dead protag's adult daughter reading a letter of contrition that was written to her years ago by her mother. As the letter is read, the daughter's voice dissolves into the dead protag's voice (as V.O.) and then we flashback to the dead protag writing the letter in a jail cell.

    New ending: Intercut the dead protag's V.O. with some of the more emotion-filled and dramatic scenes from the movie. These would be very short flashes, a montage of sorts, that coincide with the words uttered in the contrition. I think if I can format this properly, it would be very effective. I'm playing around with what I'm calling a "Flashback Montage." It sort of looks like this (I'll use "Delanie" as my protag's name):
    __________________________________________________ __________
    DELANIE (V.O.)
    Dear Muriel.....

    BEGIN FLASHBACK MONTAGE:

    A. Delanie writing letter in a jail cell.

    DELANIE (V.O.)
    Blah, blah, blah...

    B. Young Delanie giving birth to her daughter.

    C. Young Delanie and her sidekick fleeing town with the Sheriff in pursuit.

    DELANIE (V.O.)
    Blah, blah, blah...

    D. (more flashback cuts...)

    BACK TO SCENE
    __________________________________________________ _________

    So my two-part(ish) question is: (1) Do you think this is worth it? (2) How would you format it? Does "Flashback Montage" make sense? Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: Denouement Experiment

    Hey Bio, imho the montage works better, it's more visual.

    You could format it another way (more spec script friendly), but no big deal:

    DELANIE (V.O.)
    Dear Muriel.....

    MONTAGE: YOUNG DELANIE

    Writing a letter in a jail cell.

    DELANIE (V.O.)
    Blah, blah, blah...

    Giving birth to her daughter.

    ETC.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Denouement Experiment

      Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
      Hey Bio, imho the montage works better, it's more visual.

      You could format it another way (more spec script friendly), but no big deal:

      DELANIE (V.O.)
      Dear Muriel.....

      MONTAGE: YOUNG DELANIE

      Writing a letter in a jail cell.

      DELANIE (V.O.)
      Blah, blah, blah...

      Giving birth to her daughter.

      ETC.
      Thanks jp. I guess the 78 other viewers voted with their silence - I'll take that to mean the piece wasn't someting that would cause the reader's eyes to bleed.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Denouement Experiment

        Bio

        Between the two options, I think the second one's better. I think it would better as a kind of epilogue rather than the big emotional climax though - the combination of VO, someone reading a letter, and stuff we've seen before wouldn't really pack the emotional punch for me. would work fine as a quiet little coda tho.

        I'm guessing (and I may be way off) that the emotional pay off is that the daughter's realising her mother wasn't the bitch she'd always thought, and now she has all the facts, she's debilitated with guilt and love. Or something like that.

        Do the audience know this before the daughter - so the new info is how the daughter reacts? Or do we learn about the mother as the daughter does? In which case, maybe this big new event is worthy of a bit more screen time and attention.

        As I say, I might be completely off here, without knowing more about the story.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Denouement Experiment

          Originally posted by spinningdoc View Post
          Bio

          Between the two options, I think the second one's better. I think it would better as a kind of epilogue rather than the big emotional climax though - the combination of VO, someone reading a letter, and stuff we've seen before wouldn't really pack the emotional punch for me. would work fine as a quiet little coda tho.

          I'm guessing (and I may be way off) that the emotional pay off is that the daughter's realising her mother wasn't the bitch she'd always thought, and now she has all the facts, she's debilitated with guilt and love. Or something like that.

          Do the audience know this before the daughter - so the new info is how the daughter reacts? Or do we learn about the mother as the daughter does? In which case, maybe this big new event is worthy of a bit more screen time and attention.

          As I say, I might be completely off here, without knowing more about the story.
          Thanks 'doc.

          It's more the daughter coming to terms with and making public for the first time, her swindling, outlaw mother's past. In doing so, she (and me) drives home the theme that despite our flaws, redemption and contrition can be a beneficial legacy, albeit in this case, at a great cost.

          As I rethink it, I'll probably use "fresh" flashback cuts that relate to key points in the story.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Denouement Experiment

            My first recommendation is to never make the ending of your story expositional in nature, which is the case with both these alternate endings. The best endings are forward-looking and evolve out of the conclusion of the main character's experience.

            An explanatory ending, especially one based on flashbacks, tends to be anti-climactic and often disappointing or unsatisfying for the audience.

            How visual it is is less important than how emotionally satisfying it is. For that reason I'd recommend looking for an ending - or denouement - in the form of a resolution outcome. Obviously some people think that what you're aiming for will work. I have serious doubts and think there are much more effective ways to construct your ending.
            "Friends make the worst enemies." Frank Underwood

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Denouement Experiment

              Originally posted by DavidK View Post
              My first recommendation is to never make the ending of your story expositional in nature, which is the case with both these alternate endings. The best endings are forward-looking and evolve out of the conclusion of the main character's experience.

              An explanatory ending, especially one based on flashbacks, tends to be anti-climactic and often disappointing or unsatisfying for the audience.

              How visual it is is less important than how emotionally satisfying it is. For that reason I'd recommend looking for an ending - or denouement - in the form of a resolution outcome. Obviously some people think that what you're aiming for will work. I have serious doubts and think there are much more effective ways to construct your ending.
              Thanks David. I see your point and will give it some thought. I tried to put myself in the audience, watching this unfold. I think it could have some strong emotional impact, but, then again, I'm probably way too close to the story at this point.

              Comment

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