This storyline might be fairly niche, but it’s caught my attention. In fact, I think it’s turned up more often than I realize. ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ and ‘Red’ come to mind. Both have a reunion plot where most of the characters already know each other. They have a lengthy history and possibly some fame. I’ve got a few tips for this, so let’s see what we have.
- The heroes don’t need a getting to know you stage. This can take up a lot of time and patience, especially with a large group. In a Reunion Story, they don’t have to be introduced to each other. This connection can be used to introduce them at a faster pace to the audience too. For example, I was able to show a lot more characters in War of Nytefall since they were already connected than in Legends of Windemere where they were meeting each other for the first time.
- With heroes already knowing each other, you will inevitably have some shared stories. This can be interesting and make for amusing scenes, but there is a temptation to do it a lot. Your mind can connect to stories that make your established heroes appear larger than life and you may try to top each one as you proceed. This can overshadow the current story and make the audience wonder why they aren’t reading about the cooler adventures. While every character can share parts of their past, you can’t have it take the spotlight.
- The heroes are established and aware of the world, so they won’t need a guide or mentor. Of course, there will be some things they are in the dark about since they’re coming out of some form of retirement. Maybe it’s a new city that appeared after they were traveling or a new creature that they never encountered. These things will take center stage since the characters will not have to explore the areas that they already know or learn skills from the ground up. You still have to introduce these things, but you don’t have to draw out an exploration.
- Power levels of heroes may be over the top at the beginning. This is really hard to master with fantasy because magic is involved. These heroes need to first appear as very powerful and intimidating since they are established. If they’re legendary like the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ then they’re downright frightening at first. This can cause a problem with making the audience question if they will succeed. It’s tempting to keep them at this level too, but then there isn’t much threat. All solutions are tricky from making insanely powerful villains to revealing limits that didn’t seem to appear at the beginning. So, you have to be careful here.
- You don’t have to introduce all of the characters at once. Since you can skip the ‘who are you?’ part, you can have the first one that you show go about gathering the others. It can be a casual encounter or real hunt to figure out where everyone has disappeared to. This also doesn’t mean everyone will agree. A character may not want to get back on the road, which creates conflict within the established group. (I’ll get to this in a second.) The point is that you can speed up the arrivals, which gives you more time for other things.
- No harm in having one of the old heroes be the villain. The reunion doesn’t have to include all former members. Some could be angry about a slight that reveals why the team disbanded. They could be corrupted by an evil force. The point is that they don’t always have to return as heroes and friends.
- This is probably the BIGGEST TIP! I saved it for last in the hopes that people will reach it and it wouldn’t get mixed in with the others. YOU NEED AN OUTSIDER CHARACTER! Okay, maybe not all the time, but you do need a vessel for the audience who are meeting these heroes for the first time. In ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ this would be Elizabeth Liones who set out to gather the Sins and is being introduced to them for the first time. Her meeting them and learning about them is what allows us to do the same. Otherwise, the established heroes meet and any revelations of their past or abilities may come off as forced. If there is one new face then they’re more inclined to explain themselves. Yes, this is an introduction, but it is a very limited and low key one that won’t waste as much time as a big, nobody knows each other thing. Consider how much easier it is to meet a new person that a friend is introducing you to when compared to a blind date. See? Much easier and more relaxing.