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blog The Mentor: Trope Reboot

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Black Dragon, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Devor submitted a new blog post:

    The Mentor: Trope Reboot
    by Brian DeLeonard


    Fantasy novels are complex tomes filled with beguiling magics, curious creatures, unspeakable names, countless political fiefdoms, more breeds of elf, and thousands of years of adventure. Your readers have to learn all those new particulars without wanting to burn your book in rage.

    Thankfully there’s a trope for teaching those details. Let’s reboot the Mentor.

    Explaining the Worldsplainer

    Few people or characters learn everything on their own. Most of us have guides, teachers, parents, and role models to help us on our way forward. These are the people who have walked the path ahead of us, who have earned their knowledge through labor and first-hand experience, who pass their hard-won wisdom onto us.

    That’s not what makes a mentor.

    As a trope, the mentor doesn’t exist to share his or her experience with the hero. A hobbit cannot become a wizard. The slayer will never be a watcher. Harry never wanted to become headmaster of Hogwarts. The mentor’s abilities are usually very different than the hero’s. Otherwise the mentor would be able to handle the conflict alone.

    The mentor’s experiences are beyond the hero, mysterious and unattainable, and yet almost useless for ultimately solving the problem at hand.

    Instead, mentors explain the world. The mentor is mysterious because the author’s world is mysterious. Little by little the words of the...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
    skip.knox, Taniwha and Svrtnsse like this.
  2. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Mystagogue

    Often the mentor does too much thinking for the hero. I never liked that for example, Buffy was essentially Rupert Giles' attack dog against the supernatural until he backed off and she started thinking for herself more.
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    That's definitely true. The mentor sometimes doubles up in the roles of quest giver and confidante and suffocates the hero's agency even more.
  4. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Lore Master

    It was more accident than design that the Mentor in my work in progress that the Mentor is more the "big picture" guy rather than the hands on practical guy. It's the others who join the protagonist who are the more hands on, practical people who guide the protagonist.
  5. Skybreaker Sin K'al

    Skybreaker Sin K'al Lore Master

    A very useful post. Thanks, Dev.
  6. Peat

    Peat Mystagogue

    I like it that way though. One of my favourite things about Wheel of Time was watching Rand buck and outgrow Moraine's authority. And I also enjoyed how no matter how much Garion grew up, he was still doing what his Aunt told him.

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