Does your character need a character arc?
Think about it. Did Sherlock Holmes change after each investigation? No, he was and always will be Sherlock Holmes.
Did Bilbo Baggins change at the end of the Hobbit? No, when he got home he wanted to be a hobbit. He did not want to go adventuring again. He did not want to leave his hobbit hole.
If you’re writing a trilogy do you have to have the character go through a major character arc by the end of each volume. No, if you did a person reading volume two and going back and reading volume one may not like volume one because the character she loved in volume two is not the character with the same name in volume one.
How many life altering can a person go through and not go crazy? Think about Sue Garfton and the 26 volumes she wrote.
Think about yourself. When you learned to count, did you become a different person? Counting is one of the greatest inventions of the human race. How about when you learned to multiply. How many animals can multiply? Think about it. You are having a dozen friends over so you go and get two six-packs or four six-packs if your smart. But, did you change when you learned one of the greatest things that separates mankind from animals?
I don’t think you became a threat to the world (future dictator or demigod) when you conquered long division. Sure you learned something important, but it had little impact on your personality. Some people promptly forgot all they every knew about multiplication and division as soon as they could and sank back to being an animal.
No one remembers when multiplication or division was discovered. Think how that changed the world. No one remembers when we went from Roman numerals to Arabic numerals. But those things changed the world far more than Julius Caesar. Just try and do the calculus in Roman numerals.
If a person loses a loved one. She could change or maybe not. She might be sadder or she might turn around and find a new husband. Is she really different. Does she join a new church because she lost someone? Or would they struggle on and over come? Would your major character implode if they had a major lost in their life. I’ve seen all of this happen, but would I be interested in reading about a wimp that gets knocked down by things I’ve been through? Would you?
So plan your next book, even if it is a stand alone, to be a serial. It’s good business practice. You like the character, and your readers like the character, you have a built-in audience to fall back on. Are you going to change the character so much that if the reader reads the second then goes back and reads the first book she won’t recognized or like (as in you lost a reader of your future books) the character?
Set your next series as 30 volume story. Make it James Bond in the Steampunk universe. “The names Blonde.” She ratchets the hammer back on the dainty, deadly gun. “Mary Blonde.”
Stay strong, write on, and think about how you have changed after major life altering events.
Professor Hyram Voltage