Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday: Characters, the Mentor:

The mentor has many faces. It can be a machine, or a stuffed animal. A mentor maybe an older sibling or a substitute parental figure. A mentor may be a waitress, a clerk at the local drug store or a babysitter. In other words, the mentor can wear many hats. In some cases, the hero may have more than one mentor. The occasional character that arrives in the nick of time and gives the hero the elixir of life, or at least some good advice.

The mentor can be out for his own gain. S/he may use the hero to get ahead, or be jealous of the hero and feed him or her false information. The mentor may be a trickster, or an idiot. On the flip side, the mentor may be good, righteous and of outstanding moral fiber.

Unlike the hero or the villain, the mentor doesn’t need to be as complex a character. You develop this character to suit your story and to give both support and a possible distraction to the hero. The mentor may raise more questions than s/he resolves.

Both ‘The Writer’s Journey,’ 2nd Edition, by Christopher Vogler. and 45 Master Characters, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt talk about the mentor and his/her importance in the story. You can follow the links to Amazon’s web site and learn more.

In my epic fantasy, my heroine has multiple mentors. The first is a unicorn who magically enables her to speak the language. Hey, it’s a fantasy, no translation codes in the jewelry. Then her hand maid is a mentor who speaks simple words of wisdom to my heroine. Trust me; you will be shouting this at my heroine for awhile by the time this shy girl tells her. Next an elf mentors her. He continually calls my heroine princess which irks her to no end. Lastly, a young maiden who lives with the elves mentors her. Each mentor has a specific role and each has a different personality. Some of my mentors also serve other purposes. They are in effect, dual characters or I should say, they have more than one role.

I do not know who the mentor will be for my novella yet…but I will have one.

What character have you recently assigned the role of mentor and why?


Quinn said...

My MC's grandmother serves in a mentor type role. Really, it's just that she believes in him and gives him strength to accept what's happening.

N. R. Williams said...

Grandmother's make great mentors Quinn. Believing in the hero is an important part of mentoring. thanks for your comment.

Liz Fichera said...

I just started my next novel this past weekend. It's still a work in progress. I like your idea that a mentor can be many things--and not necessarily a person. Interesting.

Patti Struble said...

My current MC has 3 in the story & one in her back story. A con artist, a child & an older woman. The back story mentor is not integral to the story, but an explanation of what she provided does demonstrate acquired knowledge. Here's hoping I do it justice.

This is a great post!


Jules said...

Well, I don't have a mentor yet but now I have a good idea for what mine will be. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

N. R. Williams said...

Liz, there are many great examples of robot, android, stuffed animal mentors in sci-fi and children books.

I am sure you will do a terrific job Patti.

I'm glad I could provided some inspiration Jules.

Thank you all for your comments.

Kay Theodoratus said...

Mentors appear, but often my characters don't pay much attention to them. Personally, I had a number of real mentors who varied depending on the problems I face.

Clarissa Draper said...

I've never really considered assigning one but now I'm going to have to reconsider.


N. R. Williams said...

Many of our favorite books and movies have mentors. Thank you for your comment Clarissa.

N. R. Williams said...

I don't think the hero or heroine has to pay attention to their mentor. In fact, that may be an interesting plot twist. Or a problem that your characters need to overcome. Thank you for your comment Kay.

Carolyn V. said...

I love mentors. My mentor is a secondary character who gets involved in everything. It's so fun. =)

N. R. Williams said...

You remind me that sometimes the mentor turns into the hero, or the villain. Thank you for your comment Carolyn.