(Module 2) Life Lessons from Character Transformation

As we’ve explored character, the inciting incident, the story question and conflict this chapter, we’ve come to a better understanding about the hero’s journey, and how to evaluate character arc.


Sure, we’ve looked at the character’s goal and quest, but we must also examine the character’s need. This need, is the internal story of the character, and it also known as the “B-Story.” When we understand the B-Story, we’ll also come closer to grasping the message, moral or life-lesson of our narrative.


The lesson we gain from the character’s journey, is many times, deep below the surface of our hero. Although it is not “in your face,” THIS B-Story is what the film is all about. This is what really matters, and this is the lasting impression for audiences. When we comprehend these transformational experiences of the character, we also feel that our time within this story (and with the character) was worth it. The journey is all the more important because of these lessons.


As you complete your semester project, you should investigate which of these “Universal Lessons” best represents your character and their adventure.


Audience members are more engaged with a character who is transformed and changes, and those changes will happen as a result of our character facing a crisis. The greater the conflict; the more difficult the struggle; the worse the pain … the more impact and change (or growth) we’ll see in a character. You may remember from earlier in this chapter, that the character doesn’t always win against the forces of antagonism, sometimes the conflict may overcome the character. But even in those situations, life lessons exist. Check out the following life lessons culminated mostly from Jessica Brody’s for her book “Save the Cat Writes a Novel.” There are several other universal life lessons, but these are the most common:


  • Acceptance: of self, of circumstances, of reality, different points of view, destiny, empathy, to ideas, people, adventure, situations, to change
  • Choices and Control: Understanding that we’re never really in control of anything but choices, but those choices have impact (on self, others, or our world)
  • Faith and Hope: in oneself, in others, in the world, in a different path, in God
  • Fear: conquering it, finding courage to face it, accepting it, embracing it or becoming it
  • Forgiveness: of self or of others
  • Judgment: of self, of others, of society. Bias and perceived bias. Judgement does not always mean justice.
  • Love: self-love, family love, romantic love, love of country, culture, religion or society
  • Redemption: including atonement, accepting blame, remorse, and salvation
  • Responsibility: including duty, loyalty, fighting for a cause, accepting one’s destiny
  • Selflessness: Including sacrifice, altruism, heroism, kindness, compassion, and overcoming greed
  • Survival: mental, physical, spiritual, perseverance for a cause, the power of the human spirit, and including the will to live
  • Trust: in oneself, in others, in organizations, and in the unknown
  • Truth: Gaining new wisdom, keeping an open mind, the quest for it, or discovering an inner truth.



Brody, J. (2018). Save the cat! writes a novel: The last book on novel writing you’ll ever need.

Claire, S. (2017, October 21). Teaching: Theme in Film and Literature. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wyv5NnL2dcU

Claire, S. (2018, June 8). Teaching: Examples of Universal Themes in film. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL6GtRvWrTc

Cohen, H. J. (2015). Kosher movies: A film critic discovers life lessons at the cinema. San Francisco, CA: Urim Publications.

Hogan, J. (2008). Reel parables: Life lessons from popular films. New York: Paulist Press.

Leigh, J. E. (2013). Based On a true movie: Life lessons to take off screen. CO: Amazon.

Manning II, N. T. (2020, October 30). I’ve got a life lesson for you [class research].N


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