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How to Build a Great Ending

Storyteller OS users: Clip this video into your Knowledge Base and categorize it under Plot + Structure

In this video, Tyler Mowery explains the key elements of a great ending for a story. He emphasizes the importance of establishing clear stakes in the story and creating a sudden reversal in the climax that brings together the emotional and philosophical elements of the story. Mowery uses examples from films like "Django Unchained" and "The Shawshank Redemption" to illustrate his points and provide guidance for writers looking to create impactful and meaningful endings.

Plot + Structure


  • Endings should bring emotion and meaning to the story to its highest point of tension, then resolve in a clear way that is both emotionally impactful and meaningful to the audience.
  • Endings should be meaningful in terms of what they are saying about how people should live or what they should believe. The values, beliefs, and philosophical ideas embedded in the conflict of the story are what make the ending meaningful.
  • A great ending is not just about ending it at the highest point of conflict and letting your hero get whatever they want, it's about creating meaning in your story so that your climax is not only emotional but also deeply meaningful.
  • There should be three levels of stakes in a story: external stakes, internal stakes, and philosophical stakes.
  • Three different things can be gained or lost in a story: external stakes, internal stakes, and philosophical stakes.
  • The external stakes are the external thing the character is trying to do or get.
  • The internal stakes are the relational or emotional stakes.
  • The philosophical stakes are about what the characters believe, how those beliefs influence what they do, and how those beliefs are put into conflict with the world around them.
  • The philosophical struggle will focus on two competing value systems that are constantly in conflict throughout the story.
  • A lot of major problems writers face in their third act comes from not building a story that is both emotionally impactful and meaningful.
  • Many stories have a meaningless ending because the story is simply devoid of any philosophical stakes.