“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” – Thomas Carruthers
Hopefully, we’ve all had that person in our lives who has inspired us, challenged us to think differently, and told us never to settle for giving less than our best. I have been blessed with several such mentors.
In literature, we see many examples of characters who inspire and/or guide the protagonist:
- Brom to Eragon in Eragon
- Four to Tris in Divergent
- Gandolf to Bilbo in The Hobbit and to Frodo in The Lord of the Rings
- Haymitch to Katniss in The Hunger Games
- Marilla Cuthbert to Anne in Anne of Green Gables
- Oromis and Glaedr to Eragon and Saphira in Eldest
There comes a point where the protagonist has to apply what his/her mentor taught him/her. That point is a sign of the protagonist’s growth. Sometimes, the teacher gets to watch his/her charge mature. Other times, they are separated and the instructor will see the difference in the student when they reconnect later. And sadly, the guide does not always live long enough to see the full outcome of his/her influence on the main character.
Your writing challenge is to create a mentor. Remember, he/she does not have to be an old man (i.e. Gandolf). The mentor character can be a parent, romantic interest, sibling, best friend, disagreeable person, etc.
Here are a few questions to help you get started with really developing your mentor:
- How old is he/she?
- What is his/her background?
- How did he/she end up where he/she is at the start of the story?
- What is his/her greatest strength?
- What is his/her greatest flaw?
- What is his/her greatest fear?
- How does he/she feel about himself/herself?
- What is his/her favorite memory?
- What is his/her most painful memory?
- How is he/she connect to the protagonist?
- How does he/she feel about the protagonist?
- What does he/she want from the protagonist?