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My character’s mentor idea

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Writer’s_Magic, Jul 1, 2018.

  1. Why have mentors to be wise? Why can’t they be as awesome and crazy as Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean-Saga? Maybe because it isn’t such easy to create a character like him. But how do you mix these craziness, humor and success together? Do you have any idea?
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    A "cool" mentor runs the risk of overshadowing the main character. "Old and wise" has a way of implying "tired and frail" which helps readers to accept the mentor as a supporting character. Even as it is, mentor figures like Dumbledore and Gandalf already run into problems of some readers complaining, "There's so much more they should have been doing during all of this...." Make them cool like Jack Sparrow? You've got to figure out a brand new answer to the question, why isn't this character just the hero?
     
  3. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Archmage

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    Because the hero's tend to be young and inexperienced and they have (sometimes) a lifetime of experience behind them. It helps to have a teacher when confronted by the sudden danger that they know nothing about. And I'd take Jack as more a Trickster Mentor sorts. Which can used too. They have the knowledge, the experience and might just care enough to help. As long as they get something out of it. Can also use a Rival Mentor too, forcing the hero to learn the hard way and have to defeat said mentor in time.
     
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  4. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

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    my mentor in my wip is love interest and appears to be younger plus mysterious hinted the connected in ch 1 but not given anything away the ch has hint of physiology
     
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  5. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    When I was a teen (and many times afterward) I read the Myth Adventures series. Main character is the typical peasant boy taken in by a magic user, as apprentice. Only problem is, in the first chapter to the first book, that magic user is killed just as he's summoned a "demon" during a lesson. The summoned being looks like a demon, green scaly skin and razor-sharp teeth with a very bad attitude; but his name is Aahz and he becomes the kid's new mentor. Ultimately, they become friends and star in most of the rest of the books of the series. But he's not a wise mentor so much as a resourceful-but-very-flawed curmudgeonly sort.
     
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  6. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    But a more general thought...The only requirement for "mentor" status is a) having an MC who is inexperienced in some way and b) giving the mentor more experience in that field or milieu.

    So for instance, Fagin or even The Artful Dodger could become a mentor of sorts to Oliver Twist, however briefly or in a limited way. I wouldn't characterize either of these characters as "wise" even if both have some wisdom, or experience, that Oliver Twist doesn't have.

    It's about this difference in experience more than overall personality. The mentor can be a psychopath, unbeknownst to the MC, or a real idiot in many ways, or devil-may-care daredevil sort, or...whatever. How the MC views the mentor might start one way—"I need to follow this guy; he knows way more than I do"—and end up another way: "I was an idiot to follow him."
     
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  7. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

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    ah but Fagin and Artful Dodger are wise in the sense of being street wise and important to for Oliver twist to survive the streets
     
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  8. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    True, but this depends on how we define wisdom. Also, I think the general question in the OP considered "wise" in the stereotypical Gandalf sort of way; i.e., "sage," whatever, heh.
     
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  9. Hallen

    Hallen Scribe

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    The typical mentor is not only a character, but a literary device. It gives the author a way to provide info dumps without them seeming that way. Then, you have to make the mentor flawed, or unavailable, or something, so that the lessons are never quite fully imparted on our hero. This is so it's easy to give the reader what they need to know, and still make it hard on the hero.

    Look at Dumbledoor or Professor McGonagall. If either one of those two were really paying attention, they would have never let Harry and crew do any of the stuff they did. Yet somehow, there is always something that keeps Dumbledoor from acting and McGonagall disbelieves or won't listen to the kids. But, at important points, they provide the information needed so the character can move on with the story. They are wise, but only when the author wants them to be. Otherwise, they're pretty much idiots.

    Plus, mentors can be used to show just how hard, or dangerous, or obscure, things are. And, they are perfect as a Pinch device to kill off at just the right time. Gandalf in the mines of Moria is a classic example.

    The need to be what you need them to be for the story. Wisdom comes with experience (unless you are some kind of god that just has it). By definition, most of our heroes don't have experience in the thing that is important. So, we use mentors to impart this. A mentor could be a fool. Or a dingbat. Or somebody utterly unreliable for social, or romantic, or cooking advice, but knows everything about the properties of snail slime and the affects on scrying spells.

    One of my stories hinges around a brother and a sister. The brother is a powerful mage and just does things based on some basic rules and an intuitive understanding of what it is. Think Babe Ruth and hitting a baseball. His much younger sister is an academic who studies the magic having very little ability of her own. She teaches her brother a lot about how the magic works so he can get more out of it.
     
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