The protagonist's emotional (character arc) conflict needs to be fully resolved before we can fade out. There's no satisfaction for the audience if the plot problem has been resolved but the protagonist is still a broken man. If John McClane kills the terrorists and rescues his wife, but is still a jerk, we don't really have a happy ending. Though happy endings aren't required, the resolution of the conflicts that fuel your story are required.

In my cable movie HARD EVIDENCE Gregory Harrison's casual affair leads him into a dangerous world of blackmail and murder. Though he faces and vanquishes the blackmailers by the end of the film; if he is still the kind of guy who cheats on his wife, the whole thing might happen again. So Harrison's character must change from a cheater to a loving husband before the conclusion of the script. This is not a minor change, this is a big character arc that requires Harrison to realize that HE is the reason for his problems. This is more than removing the girlfriend, this is removing the part of Harrison that made him cheat (no surgery required). If you only change the situation without changing the character, there is still an unresolved problem.

Make sure the emotional conflict in your script is resolved so that it will never happen to this character again... That takes character growth... and creates a character arc. You want the story to REALLY be over before they roll tail credits.

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