There are, of course, no unimportant moments in any show. Every moment is critical. Each one must be integrated into the whole, and must be filled with conflict, suspense, and the anticipation of what is next to come. But two moments rise above all others in status: the opening and closing moments. So, why are openings and closings so very important? What makes them so special?
It’s always a challenge to lure the audience into the world you’ve created in a way that grabs them and holds them for the next two and half hours. If you open your story well, the audience will instantly drop down the rabbit hole that you have dug and stick with you as the story unfolds. On the other hand, if you do not open well, it will become increasingly difficult to keep the audience’s attention from wandering. Opening moments are obliged to do nothing less than completely hook the audience.
So, you’ve done a great job of telling your story. You’ve had the audience eating out of the palm of your hand for two hours and fifteen minutes. And then you suddenly neglect to resolve the hero’s objective. The end of your tale does not pay off that which you have set up. Will that be memorably satisfying? Not likely.
The climax of most if not all memorable stories will work to resolve the hero’s objective (positively or negatively — happy endings are not required) in a way that results in a catharsis for the viewers. But even after such a catharsis is achieved the author’s job is not done. The closing moments of a story ought to present the audience with some form of a memory that lingers. It might be a song, an action, an actor’s look, a line of dialogue, a stage picture, etc. Whatever it is it ought to have resonance. When you achieve such a closing moment, the audience will be unable to push your show out of their heads for awhile — hopefully for days. And they will tell their friends that your creation must be seen. From such moments long runs can be built.
There is absolutely no slacking off during any part of the creation of your story. None. But pay special attention to how you draw the audience in, and how you ultimately leave them at the end with an enduring memory.