Thursday, June 02, 2022

The Expanded Ultimate Story Checklist: After the crisis, does the hero finally commit to pursuing a corrected goal, which still seems far away?

Any recovering addict will tell you that once you stop sabotaging yourself, you still have a long, long way to go to get your life back on track. All you’ve done by committing to a corrected goal is get back to zero with a better plan. 

Remember: Everybody hates a lucky man. The solution shouldn’t land in the hero’s lap, and it shouldn’t be within easy grasp. Even at this late point in the story, once the hero has a corrected philosophy, there should still be a long way to go and a short time to get there.
  • The heroine of An Education realizes that she must now try to get into Oxford without a high school degree. 
  • Jason Bourne decides he must take the fight back to the CIA all alone. 
  • Phil in Groundhog Day realizes that he must help as many townspeople as possible, honing his schedule over hundreds of repeated days. 
  • Danny realizes that he must somehow stop his father himself in The Shining.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

NO, he retreats to his previous goal and tries to get laid by a drunk girl.


YES, blowing up the ship.

An Education

YES.  She becomes determined to get into Oxford without a high school degree.

The Babadook

YES. although it’s not really far away.  When she confronts it strongly, it retreats to the basement. 

Blazing Saddles

YES. He convinces the townsfolk to give the railroad workers land to save the town.

Blue Velvet


The Bourne Identity

YES. he decides to confront his ex boss. 


YES. Fix everything.


YES.  he takes them to the airport, but Renault warns Strasser.


YES. He realizes he has to get Evelyn and Catherine out of town, away from Cross and the police.

Donnie Brasco

YES.  he realizes that he has to get out now.

Do the Right Thing

NO. Not really: he acts rashly, then reverts into paralysis. 

The Farewell

YES. She happily joins in a drinking game with her family, no longer feeling disconnected from them. 

The Fighter

YES. he realizes that he’ll have to force his new handlers to allow Dicky back in.


YES. Get Kristoff to kiss her. 

The Fugitive

YES. he finally investigates Devlin McGregor

Get Out

YES. He fights them all to the death. 

Groundhog Day

YES. He’s got to change as many lives as possible in one day. It’s a big job. 

How to Train Your Dragon

YES. Ride new dragons to save them all.

In a Lonely Place

NO. The movie is over.  He is destroyed.

Iron Man

YES. Defeat Stane, save Pepper. 

Lady Bird

NO. Well, she pretty much just has to wait and see if she gets off the wait list. 

Raising Arizona

YES. Save the baby, then return him. 


YES. He creates a similar life for himself at Grover Cleveland to the one he had at Rushmore: puts on a new play, etc.  He also vows to get Blume and Cross back together.


Sort of.  He commits to doing it in the courts, but the movie certainly doesn’t portray that as “what he should have done all along”, but rather an avenue that opened because of everything he had done so far.  

The Shining

YES. Danny commits to stopping his father.


NO. He recommits to the false goal of making Jack happy, even retrieving his wedding rings after his adultery.

The Silence of the Lambs

YES. She’s on the right trail, but that trail has gone cold.

Star Wars

YES. Finally discovers true goal: use the plans to blow up the Death Star.

Sunset Boulevard

Somewhat.  He decides to leave Norma, but that seems easy.  

1 comment:

Dan R. said...

Thanks to your posting, I'm seeing that what my hero is doing after the crisis is pursuing a corrected goal, though it seems fruitless to him, and far away. But, which results in more of a reward than he imagined.

I'm about halfway through your book, THE SECRETS OF CHARACTER, and it is like having a personal tutor with me. I also appreciate learning about this website, which is a treasure chest of writer's doubloons and pieces-of-eight.

Thank you ever so much.

Daniel Rousseau