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What Happen's after the Hero's or You saved the world now what?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Logos&Eidos, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

    "Humans write to figure out how things are." - Varric Tethras, Dragon Age Inquistion. Party banter.

    Recently I bought a copy of "The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller", I haven't finished it do to my reading backlog, I'm slow to finish none fiction. I'm glad that I bought it because something in those early pages blew my mind. The fact that so many stories are tales of maturation, even stories that aren't obvious coming of age stories.

    The Hero or Heroine begins their respective journey as figurative or literally children possessing traits associated with being immaturity and or weakness, and through the events of the story are molded into an adult by then of the story.

    This revelation was mind blowing because it answered one question that had bugged me for years.

    "Why does the story end right when the Hero has gotten their stuff together and is ready to do battle with Godlings?"

    I can't be the only person who's had that question buzzing around in their skulls?

    The answer is that the story was about the transformation of a weak and immature individual into a strong productive adult. All the trials and tribulations through out the story were there to facilitate the transformation of the hero. Thus once a Hero has come into their power the story ends, because the story was about the rise to power/maturity not what to do now that you've attained those qualities?

    In essence many stories,especially among the most beloved are about "becoming" rather than "doing". The Star Wars Original Trilogy for example.

    The Prequel Trilogy was about a Villain Becoming or the Villain's Journey.

    I've yet to see a version of it that I'd consider definitive, however This is the first one that I'd stumbled across.

    The Hero's Journey is about growing up...so what happens afterwards? What's the story about navigating the world of power and adult responsibility, what happens after the evil Overlord has been beaten?

    Have the steps of a Post Hero's Journey ever been mapped out?
    Tom likes this.
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Eve Forward's book Villains By Necessity takes place after the evil lord has been beaten. That's pretty much where it starts. Not exactly following up on the themes you're talking about, but interesting.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    The challenge there would be to continue the theme of change. If the hero has become who he's meant to become, then he has reached stasis. The next story would have to be about further change--a fall from grace, apotheosis to godhood, ... hm, that's about all I can come up with.

    While the first could be interesting, it almost requires a series; otherwise, we'd not be invested enough in the hero to have sympathy with the fall. And, of course, we'd need a third book which restored the hero to hero status, in which case we'd be back where we started at the end of book one.

    I see the theoretical interest, but I'm not sure it will translate into real story.
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    To say every change story is a bildungsroman inside of a hero's journey to interpret in some respect or another is a tad loose with definition if you ask me. You can run with that if you like, upto you. I would also say that stories end where the story ends... so to speak. Star Wars 4 ends with the destruction of the Death Star, the established goal of the story... 5 does not end, but spins into 6, why? Because the goal wasn't met. 6 ends because the goal is met, the Empire is broken with the death of the emperor and Vader. The maturation of the character, as such, is taking place inside of a greater structure.

    In more literary works, the bildungsroman may be the story, but in typical hero's journey style the growth is specific to effecting a specific story ending goal, so the story ends. In EP4 Luke destroys the Death Star but Vader spins out of control into space, still alive, not only leaving a big bad guy alive, but foreshadowing Luke's need to continue to grow in order to face his father and defeat him and the Empire. This sort of "yes, but" ending is a great hook to spin into another cycle of growth.

    To sequal this sort of story is interesting. The character can go on another journey of growth (but not necessarily a bildungsroman IMO) which may or may not place them in a menotr style role, a new character takes on the journey of growth, or they can become James Bond or generic Super Man type character who doesn't really change any more. That's 5am off the top thinking, anyhow. The trouble with option 3 is that if you've got a successful first installment (still using Star Wars) then suddenly switching to an unchanging hero figure is probably going to be off to the audience's sensibilities. If Luke were just ready to go after Vader day one post Death Star, matured into Vader slaying James "Luke" Bond, fans aren't going to be very happy with that story.

    Again, Luke... in 6 we see a very similar setup to 4, a death star needs destroying, but it isn't Luke going after it because he has matured beyond that storyline. It's no longer about accepting the Force, it's about his overcoming his daddy issues. The big new death star has become a prop, a symbol, not a goal, the war was won by killing the top bad guys. Which in part is probably why the destruction of the new death star falls far more flat than in the original... aside from redundancy.
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Interestingly enough, breaking down the Kung Fu Panda movies would probably give an idea of one way to sequal a typical Hero's Journey structure.
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

    Personally after I save the world I like to have a cold beer.

    In the traditional hero's journey many suggest that there is a another part after saving the world where the hero returns home to either set things back in order, or to irrevocably change the order of things. Sometimes the hero is so changed he cannot go home.

    I think there is a lot of thought given and discussion around the area of what happens with the hero after he saves the world.
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  7. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    Aside from the above mentioned apotheosis and fall from grace, there's another possibility. After the hero completes his own journey, he could become a mentor figure. After all now that he's (probably) the most powerful good dude around, he's more or less stepped into the position that his own mentor once occupied, which is now probably empty due to narrative conventions. He can fulfill that role in someone else's journey, but this time we see how it plays out from the mentor's point of view. Instead of the challenges of growing up, we see all the challenges associated with parenthood. The circle is complete. Another possibility is that during his original journey, the hero made a mistake or took a shortcut that he didn't see the immediate consequences of, but those consequences show up later in a big way and he has to deal with it. It's not quite as thematically poetic, but still makes for a good sequel.
  8. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

    The advantage of having interesting secondary characters or a sidekick is that one can turn to their stories after the hero retires. I prefer to let him/her have a well-deserved rest, maybe give a little advice at most or be remembered by those who carry on. Moreover, we know that hero by then and there may not be much more of interest to say about him.
  9. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

    @ skip.knox

    Since I'm not interest in failure stories at the moment that leaves me looking into the "apotheosis to godhood", as the model of what does the Hero do after they've won? Do you know of any write up on the steps of the Ascension plot?

    @ Demesnedenoir

    Well not power strictly, stories of transformation that are about maturation in some form or fashion deal with moving from a figurative childlike state to adulthood. When viewed over the course of the OT Luke does indeed follow the Hero's journey to a T, with each of the three episodes containing steps of the Hero's Journey.

    I do agree with you.
    The Hero either has start again after a fall, change again, or the story centers around an already settled character - which concerned with the character doing rather than being.

    Which leads me to the question what is the story path for a hero doing?

    @ Russ

    That's what I'm looking for, the next journey.
    Information on the Hero's Journey is easy to find, so far I've seen nothing on that next tale.
    The only films that I recall dealing with a post hero's journey are the last two Matrix films;a criticism I've heard of them is that Neo shouldn't have mastered his powers by the end of the first film,and that he had nowhere to go.

    Neo did have someplace to go it just wasn't the Hero's Journey because he'd already finished it in the first film; he was on the path to ascension.

    @ Mindfire

    Has someone done a Mentor' s Journey write up?

    @ Insolent Lad

    The potential lack of interest in a hero "doing" verses a "becoming", is in part because we've grown so accustom to stories of growth and transformation, that we complain and criticize when they don't happen. A story about dealing with the burdens of power and responsibility could be very entertaining.

    The closest book to the post Hero's Journey that I ever read was the second Mistborn novel.
  10. Malik

    Malik Auror

    My series actually starts ten years after the hoariest of fantasy cliches: a young man from Earth discovers he's a long-lost prince and the son of a sorcerer in another world, and then travels there and uses his new-found magic and modern knowledge to win back his father's throne. (I still have that story; I'll eventually release it as a prequel once I've made it suck a lot less.)

    Ten years on, though, a neighboring kingdom is losing its mind because they've discovered that the ultra-powerful sorcerer-king next door is -- from their perspective -- a demon conjured from another world. A third kingdom has also figured this out, and is allying with the demon, because they know a winner when they see one. The series begins when one of the neighboring realms launches a mission to Earth to find advisers to help them figure this guy out and, if necessary, counter him.

    So, yeah. What's the line? "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
    Heliotrope likes this.
  11. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    They live happily ever after. Duh. :D
    Demesnedenoir and Heliotrope like this.
  12. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    In K.M. Weiland's book on character arcs, she talks about three different types of character arcs: Positive Change, Flat and Negative Change.

    Ms. Weiland lays out the story structure for all three types of character arcs. The flat arc could be used as a follow-up to the Hero's Journey.

    She makes the observation that the first Thor movie has a positive change arc. She then claims that the sequel has a flat arc, with Thor acting in accordance with his learned Truth rather than growing to discover it as he did in the first movie.

    James Bond movies usually have flat character arcs. 007 learned his Truths long ago, and is now putting them to good use by continually making the world a better place, and changing the lives of those who encounter him. He's skilled and confident in his skills, not able to improve much, and doesn't show much interest in changing himself, for better or worse. He just gets out there and gets the job done. The excitement for the audience is in seeing someone with skills being tested and overcoming the obstacles thrown in his path.
    FifthView likes this.
  13. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    The "flat" arc is rather common for a type of episodic ensemble show on television, like the original Star Trek or a great number of sitcoms, especially in the past. Even when a character might appear to go through "change" during a given episode, the character would start the next episode not significantly different than what he was at the first of every episode preceding that episode. The longer a series ran, the greater the chance that some tiny bit of character change might occur over its entire run, but this could be due to factors like aging child actors, different scriptwriters and directors, and any number of things not very relevant to the issue of story/character arcs.

    The same sort of thing can be seen in the earliest years of superhero comic books. Superman was always superman, the exact same character, no matter what adventures he had. (Eventually, writers and publishers began to realize that readers would grow bored and wander off to read about other heroes, so they started writing stories more driven by or informed by character change/growth.)

    The trick in this sort of story is to keep throwing the characters and readers/viewers new curveballs. How will these familiar, known quantities work through the solutions? Another example might be Agatha Christie's Poirot. Poirot changes not much at all; but each murder mystery is different, with different types of clues, and we want to see Poirot's solution. (In truth, some of Christie's books seem to repeat themselves, judging by this series which probably wasn't meant to be watched in marathon sessions!)

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  14. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I've been wanting to start a thread about character wants and needs because a lot of the advice given about plot and story in various recent threads seems to focus very heavily on these things, and I think many types of story are not driven by deep, growth-type character change.

    I'm not sure if you are familiar with Orson Scott Card's idea of the "M.I.C.E Quotient," but the acronym is meant to address four principle story types:

    • Milieu
    • Idea
    • Character
    • Event

    Knowing which story type you are writing will go a long way in being able to determine how to structure it, including where/how to start the story. I won't go into great detail here, but I will say that all these elements will play some role in every story. It's just that different story types will have a different driver, different focus, and different ending-place.

    I happen to believe that every story is about change. But not every story is about deep growth-type character change. Take my example, mentioned in my last comment, of Agatha Christie's Poirot. The mystery story is an Idea story. Something needs to be discovered, or something discovered needs to be understood by the end of the tale. The detective, Poirot, doesn't undergo deep character change; rather, he's placed into the midst of a mystery needing to be solved. The change that is occurring in the tale is that

    • a crime has been committed (usually murder)
    • the circumstances of that crime are a mystery to everyone but the person or persons who committed it, with the possible exception of a witness who doesn't spill the beans immediately
    • Poirot is called in to investigate the mystery (or, as is often the case, is already present but now sees this mystery before him and feels compelled to solve it)
    • Poirot solves the mystery and reveals to everyone who perpetrated the crime.

    So the overall change is a movement from mystery to revelation.

    But this doesn't mean Poirot changes not at all. He does. He changes from a state of being mystified, ignorant to a state of knowing what has happened. One might label this a kind of "growth" in his experience (he'll never forget the case, so he has "grown" in the sense of having a broader experience), but this is hardly the kind of growth/maturation often discussed for "character change,"and the primary point of each story is not to show or have Poirot becoming a more experienced man. (I am addressing the television show. I've not read any of the books.)

    The change arc for a particular Event story (heh, I'll call it that) might be Threat to the world or to a character is introduced ------> Threat is removed. (Threat to Enterprise appears; the crew of the Enterprise removes it.)

    The change arc for a particular Milieu story might be Character finds himself in a strange new land -----> Character survives the experience and returns to his home or decides to stay in that new land.

    In any Idea, Event, or Milieu story, there can be deep character growth. But there are other types of character change possible, like going from a state of ignorance about a very particular thing to understanding it, or going from a state of having no friends and allies to having friends and allies....

    So to your question above: A character can move from a state of finding himself in the "new" world of politics or adult responsibility (new for him) to establishing himself there. Maybe he does grow in experience; or maybe the mystery of who to trust as an ally and who not to trust is resolved instead.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  15. My characters sometimes change drastically throughout their stories; othertimes barely at all, instead reacting to things happening to them.
  16. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    If you are a comic book superhero then you're just waiting for the next super-villain to come around and screw everything up. :)
  17. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    In this day and age this seems to be more of a rarity.
  18. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    My perspective is that there are a handful of existential questions that people dedicate certain periods of their lives to answering. Coming-of-age mostly deals with the questions of "who am I? Who can I be? Can I make it in the world?". Adulthood is probably more "can I make my life count? What is most important in my life?" and probably deals more with work and family than the peer/idol relationships of a coming-of-age story.
    Old people would probably have questions along the line of "what have I accomplished?" and "what do I still need to accomplish?"
    Does that make sense?

    I actually took a class on Campbell-style storytelling and my instructor told me that after the hero's journey, there's another hero's journey. Life is just a series of quests. After the evil overlord is beaten, the hero starts another quest. It's just that the stakes may not be as high or the obstacles may not be as exciting.

    Star Wars (and Dune) worked with this neat idea that the cycle of hero's journeys are continued by the later generations. That seems pretty logical.
  19. Huh.

    So I was looking over this thread, which I hadn't thought about replying to yet, and I realized that the graphic novel I'm planning kind of is a post-hero's journey story.

    I'll give some background. It's a superhero story, that takes place after the Big Bad has been defeated. The heroes of the tale are finished with their journeys and now are attempting to assimilate with society and adjust to normal life. Except none of them can hold jobs and/or keep getting kicked out of their apartments for various reasons like power-related mishaps, or non-human mutant traits freaking out the customers, or being an alien who doesn't understand human society...so, three years after the Big Bad has been defeated, the group is reunited, living together, and mooching off the (former) millionaire kid whose powers come from his inventions.

    It's kind of like a sitcom...but it has a darker and more poignant side as they find out that they didn't really know each other at all. Lots of revelations about sexuality and troubled pasts and mental illnesses. And they start to grow both together and apart as they try to fully move on from being super heroes and figure out where they want their lives to head from there.

    In the end, they're growing apart and starting to blend into society and leave behind their old identities when they're shaken by the sudden suicide of one of the members of the team. Then, when they're at their most broken, a new villain (who's been gathering power behind the scenes) rises and they are forced to reunite and fight him.

    Thoughts on how this fits in with what y'all have been discussing?
    ThinkerX likes this.
  20. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    This used to bug me quite a bit, especially with the fantasy type epics. Ok, so the MC and his companions spend three books defeating the 'dark overlord,' growing in personal and political power along the way. Then they win. The dark overlord and his empire are no more, subsumed into that of the MC and company.

    What then?

    At that point, in the more superficial sense, MC and company are among the most powerful characters around. No serious competition. Options for continuing came down to some variant of:

    1 - a 'clean-up' story, where the MC's go after the remaining top flunkies of the dark overlord - a bit like the 'scouring of the Shire' in 'Lord of the Rings.'

    2 - the world is a big place after all - most fantasy 'worlds' are actually rather small portions of worlds, and what was portrayed as the overwhelming menace is just one foe or potential foe among many in the larger world. Feist took this route in his 'Riftwar' saga.

    3 - life goes on. The MC becomes a mentor to the 'next generation' of heroes, or becomes embroiled in some personal project or other. This happened with Obi-Wan in the 'Star Wars' series.

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