In Episode 5, Chris Jones said he fixates on endings, so I thought I'd dedicate this week's After Show to it.
I talk about three theories on endings. The first is Chris': That endings should be surprising but inevitable. To see this in practice, either listen to Episode 5 or read his Teller profile. (Or do both!)
The second theory says that where a story begins is also where it should end. This is the circular approach to storytelling. John August and Craig Mazin, the guys behind the ScriptNotes podcast—required listening for me—talk among other things about a movie beginning with a scene at the hero's home and ending with a scene there. The difference being that the hero has gone through some sort of transformation by the end that's made him/her happier, wiser—whatever it is the story creator wants the character, and audience, to feel. The circular theory is also outlined in Joseph Campbell's seminal book, The Hero With 1,000 Faces, and a book recommended to me by another top screenwriter, Scott Silver, called The Writer's Journey, on which I took copious notes. August and Mazin have dedicated many episodes of ScriptNotes to endings over the years. Here's a recent one I really liked.
The ScriptNotes guys also turned me on to this video by Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt. It's the third theory on endings and a 90-minute tutorial whose major points I outline in the episode. This video is awe-some in full, too. I recommend listening to the episode and then watching this. It's meant for screenwriters but I think the lessons are applicable to other genres, too.
Lastly, I talk about how these theories on endings influenced what I did in my book. I think being exposed to all these theories on endings helped me tremendously—and still helps me today.