Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Defense of Mentors

My writer's group has been working through the Hero's Journey in our discussions. Last week we talked about the mentor character, and several people lamented that the Mentor always withholds essential information.

Having had some experience writing mentors lately, I have to step up and defend the mentors from unfair villification.

The mentor seems like he or she knows everything because he has to. After all, the secret to leadership is to act like you know what is going on at all times, even if you don't, but not to commit to anything unless you have good information. So, mentors come across as irriatating know-it-all's, but that is often not the case.

I feel sorry for the mentor, actually. Think of all the responsibility. Not just the burden for developing the hero from  hapless youth with unmet potential into a the defender of truth and goodness, but quite often the responsibility for keeping the whole realm from falling apart until he is ready to save it. Mentors must get very little sleep. Like anxious mothers, surely they hide their own fears until the wee hours of the night when no one else can see them weep and rail, then act like a wall of strength when the sun comes up or the monster awakens to threaten their young.

Mentors also get sacrificed in the middle of the plot, because the Hero has to do it by himself. So, off with Obi-Wan's head! Into the abyss with Gandalf! Thanks for everything, but your usefulness has ended and it is time to be replaced.

Sort of like the professional world, now that I think about it. (!)

Anyway... Be kind to Mentors. Remember that they, too, are struggling to fulfill their potential.

Heroes and Heroines, recall that one day soon you may well be in their shoes, and that you, too, might be cast into the abyss to make room for the next generation.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Okay, everyone, it's time for a Sunday Snapshot! Post the last paragraph or several lines of dialogue that you wrote.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't even have to be good. It just has to be yours.

Here's mine, written on the incredibly low-tech 3"x5" memo pad I found in my purse while sitting at the natural history museum waiting for my son yesterday.


She left him dripping and went inside for a couple of beach towels from the laundry room off the kitchen.

Callan knows Velyan? What the hell is he doing here? Stalking me?  She came back out and handed the towels around the shower door.

"Come in the kitchen when you're ready."

"Thanks." His voice was low, rough. As if he didn't use it much.