The coda is the little wrap up after the action.

Q: Matt, you sometimes use the word “coda.” Can you explain it?

A:  Coda (noun)

– the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the basic structure.

– the concluding section of a dance, especially of a pas de deux, or the finale of a ballet in which the dancers parade before the audience.

– a concluding event, remark, or section

I had to look up the etymology. I always thought it was related to codify, but it’s actually from Latin cauda “tail of an animal.”

Example: If the stakes of the movie are a guy getting his daughter back from terrorists, the climax will be the final fight. The coda will be the happy little scene at the end where the guy and his daughter finally go to Paris or something.

Advice: Many movies wrap up the action too quickly, so their third acts have like 15 pages of coda. Try to keep it around 4 pages, if that.

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

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