Tag Archives: mentor

Back to the Grind

That’s a wrap. We had a lovely small Thanksgiving. It was great visiting, and I even enjoyed having Jackson around. My daughter cut my hair while she was here.

She picked up supplies, then headed for home. I loaded my truck and went to the office to exchange projects for next week, since I’m still being quarantined. Old What’s Her Face has been cleared to return to work, but I have to stay home for two more weeks.

I’ve been writing along in the early hours while everyone else sleeps. I did the wrap up of Serang’s last battle and pointed her on the trail to her ultimate goal. I kind of want to write a chapter of my con-men, but it only amounts to about a page. That seems kind of short for a chapter. All this while Lanternfish is still in dry dock an ocean away. I need to launch that ship and get her into action soon.

There’s been another “murder” in the hat story. I have a theory how Lizzie is going to hunt this monster, but it conflicts with narrowing down its hunting area. It looks like I’m going to have to give them another month to start putting the more important pieces together.

I carried my coffee into the bedroom, closed the door, then sat down beside the bed. “I’m having some problems.”

A sound like rustling leaves came from under the bed. Dried cornstalks grabbed onto the frame and pulled something heavy closer. “Well, well, well. Look who’s back.”

“I know it’s been a long time. Work, family, the Muse keeps me hopping.”

“And now you’re stumped again. Is that it?”

“Yeah. I need monsters. Since you’re the resident expert, I thought I’d come to you. The cornstalks are a nice touch.”

“Yeah. I like to change things up. It’s Autumn.”

“How’s Missing-Sock monster?”

“She left me. Remember the “It” movies?”

“Yeah.”

“She became a roadie for him.”

“Bummer.”

“So what kind of monsters do you need?”

“It’s Lanternfish.”

“Still? Haven’t you been writing that one for years?”

“It’s a trilogy. Kind of yes, and kind of no. It’s just that I’ve spent so much time with sea monsters, I’m having a hard time adjusting to dry land again.”

“Why not stick with what you’re good at?”

“I will. I want to reuse the tortugators in at least one scene. It stitches the books together to a degree, but a lot of this story will occur on dry land. It’s a fantasy world, so I need to keep it similar, but fresh.”

“But these books aren’t about conquering the monster, are they?”

“No. It’s more of a global war kind of thing.”

“I might posit that you don’t want monsters. What you’re looking for are fantasy creatures to pepper your landscape with.”

“That’s exactly it. Why didn’t I think of it myself? I mean, I have the snubhorns. They’re horselike creatures, but they scavenge a bit of flesh to keep everyone uncomfortable.”

“I think you’re too close to it. Hunt your werewolf for a few chapters in the other story, then come back to it. What would the area look like in reality? You might have birds, bugs, a herd of grazing animals. Now redesign everything. You need something that flys, something that herds together, that kind of thing. They aren’t really monsters.”

“Thanks, Under-the-Bed monster. That really helps. Do you have any prospects lined up since your girl left?”

“Not so much. That little dog makes me play Nylabones when you’re gone. The big guy sleeps until you come back.”

“Yeah, Frankie is a little intense with her bones.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I kind of enjoy it.”

“Good for you. Just don’t become like a crazy cat lady. There’s a nice culvert across the park about thirty feet from here.”

“Yeah? Maybe I’ll check it out.”

“Get yourself out there. You never know who, or what, you’ll meet.”

“I think I will, and Craig?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t be a stranger. I enjoy our little conversations.”

“You’ve got it.”

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The mentor character

My company is headed South, and I have a few minutes before paying the bills and working up critiques. I've been doing a bit of daydreaming about my next big project. This project has a mentor character, but he is more spiritual than heroic. I don't know if that will sell or not.

Mentor characters have been around forever, and make some of the more memorable characters in our stories. People remember Merlin, Obi Wan, and Mr. Miyagi.

Real life provides a basis for these characters. There have been some people who survived incredible events who have been called upon to share that knowledge with a new generation. Winfield Scott was called back into service as an old man to lead the Union Army in the American Civil War. It was a short lived term, but ultimately his overall plan is how the war played out.

When The Spanish American War broke out, the USA asked for the help of a former enemy. Confederate General Joe Hooker was given a field command, because he had experience that nobody else could claim.

At the outset of World War One, Americans had little experience moving and supplying large groups of men. These things had been done in the past, but the days of Joe Hooker were over. The US turned to one William F. Cody. His Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show moved and supplied hundreds of people, including livestock, for many years. This included most of the known world, including the European theatre of operations.

Many of the silent movie actors sought out Wyatt Earp to get a feel for the era and men they portrayed. Earp didn't just stop living after the OK Corral.

It's great when an old hero can share wisdom with the new hero. My issue is going to be having the mentor provide non heroic guidance. I still think I can pull it off, but it's going to be a challenge. It also doesn't help me find a genre to fit this project.

The mentor needs to step into the background at some point. The new hero has to face his destiny, and worst fears, alone. The standard these days seems to be killing the mentor off. It also adds urgency and grief to the mix. Reference Sean Connery in The Untouchables, or Obi Wan in Star Wars.

This doesn't have to be the case. Mr. Miyagi fared well, but Daniel had to face the villain alone. I'll make sure this happens in my next book, but I won't kill my mentor off. He will just guide less and less as my main character matures. I want this story to be more about wisdom and maturity than strength and combat.

Merlin wasn't about combat, and Miyagi was anti combat. This tells me I can succeed here. It's up to me to pull it all together.

Mentors can be helpful with bits of backstory too. Writers should avoid info dumps, but a snippet of a story from someone who lived through it can help. Mentors can establish how a farm boy becomes a top swordsman without dedicating ten chapters to training.

Writing this out helps me think it through. Sharing it might get you thinking too. Do you include mentors in your stories? Do you know of any outstanding female mentors? It occurs to me the female mentor has been left out. Have you, or would you ever write a mentor into one of your stories?

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