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On Writing Mentors

So. Mentors. How do you make them original?

1. Think Before You Kill Them Off

Mentors always die.

There's a reason for this. The hero needs to be able to solve his own problems. If the mentor is still there with the hero, the hero is going to end up saving the world in no time flat. The hero needs to be independent and go and save the world on their own. So that's why mentors are always killed off.

So why don't we bend the cliche?

If the hero needs to be without the mentor, do something with the mentor that doesn't involve killing him off! Maybe the mentor is on vacation and the hero is unable to send a message to him. Maybe the mentor is mentoring someone else and does not want to be disturbed. Or why not, maybe the mentor has just been cursed to fall asleep for a hundred years.

2. Make Them Look Different

There's one other thing about mentors.

They're almost always old, experienced men.

Imagine if there was a wider range of mentors. Young men who've been through a lot and lived to tell the tale. Fashionistas who are always searching for the latest trends. Little girls who dye their hair strange colors. Give it a try.

I'm not saying you can't use old men as mentors. The only reason they're cliche is because it makes sense to have someone experienced teach the inexperienced hero how to fight their own battles. Because they've lived for so long, they've got wisdom. They can pass down their tips and tricks to the hero.

But if you have the chance to write your mentor as someone other than an old man, go for it. It might actually make the plot more interesting.

3. Be Creative

Try something new. Let's say your mentor looks different than the rest and already stands out. But you want more. What more can you do? 

Here's an idea: write him a unique voice.

I'm not saying to write him spouting riddles every second sentence, although you can do that if you really want to. 

I mean write his voice to be a little different. Does he have an accent? Does he use slang? Does he have a sense of humor that comes out every other paragraph? 

Every character is different, so you get to choose what makes your character unique. Explore ideas. Mix and match. But don't go too far - unless, of course, it makes sense in your story.

Go forth and create,
     Genesis 1:1-2


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