1. Gammer
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    Gammer Member

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    Finding a Mentor

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Gammer, Apr 3, 2012.

    In my fantasy WIP my MC gains the ability to use magic through an accident. An ability that hasn't been seen in the world in a 1000 years. He joins up with four Imperial agents and a temple acolyte to find the true owner of the magic the MC has gained. The problem lies in giving the kid a mentor to help him figure out what this power is and how to use it. The acolyte only has basic training and is still figuring this out herself and the agents can't use magic. I really don't want to resort to the Obi-Wan cliche where a village hermit he knows teaches him but it's really starting to go that way.

    Any suggestions?

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  2. Good Apollo
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    Good Apollo New Member

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    Sometimes characters must find things on their own. The prodigal son, the sole survivor, the toughened warrior - these are all tropes you can invoke to put your character through hardships and danger so that he can learn to use power, or more effectively defend himself. If you want something else, perhaps you could consider the idea of prophetic visions 'programming' his mind to make him more powerful. There's nothing wrong with an old, wise mentor - the idea has been around for ages, and will continue to persist - archetypes are strong.
  3. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Member

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    Maybe he got the magic by accident but had an inherited gene that gave him the ability to accept it. Something his father might be aware of but reluctant to admit. A father or grandfather as a mentor could work and make for an interesting subplot.
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Member Contributor

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    Maybe the mentor doesn't have to be human. Let him be a fox or a squirrel, perhaps. Someone who may have a kind of knowledge or wisdom that humans never gain, but who, in this case, makes a connection with your character somehow - a connection your character misses the first few times, because he's not expecting to gain anything from a "mere" animal. Perhaps these animals have been guarding the magic for 1000 years, waiting for your MC, and now they have to find a way to communicate their wisdom to your MC.

    There may be some possibilities there.
  5. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES New Member

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    I'm not big on fantasy anymore, but I would read a book with a squirrel mentor. I would read it ten times.


    Also, if it's fantasy, how about making the mentor some kind of ghost or spirit-thing, left over from the time when this power was more common?

    Or maybe some kind of crazy old loon who's been studying this kind of power, plus a whole bunch of powers that don't actually exist. That could be an interesting twist on the whole "wise old mentor" cliche.
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about he befriends someone who's at a higher level than he is, so this guy can teach him a few things. But then have your MC discover things by accidents - we all learn and develop by trial and error in real life after all! And we also usually learn a lot more from our friends than we do from teachers. It's not too far from the typical cliche but the character dynamics would be quite different from the cliche and the possibility of accidents also provide opportunities for loads of humour :)
  7. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    A mentor is really a guy who's read ahead of you in the owners manual and then made all of the mistakes you're going to make.

    Maybe the 'mentor' should be a old, half crazed hermit with a few fingers and an eyebrow missing from "spells gone wrong." He could be both a guiding force and comedy relief at the same time.

    "The mentor cast a whispered spell and gave a slight wave of his hand. Turning to his younger undamaged apprentice he intoned, "Let me give you some advice that Adam gave to Eve. I learned that Adam said, 'Stand back, I don't know how big this thing is going to get'..."
  8. CarterE
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    CarterE New Member

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    Depending on your story, in my recent story I wrote, the boy's mentor was a agency or group. They had a Council. Just a suggestion.
  9. Mell
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    Mell New Member

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    Perhaps he doesn't need a mentor? Could he somehow go about learning these things on his own, through trial and error or the like? It could be just as interesting as having someone there to tell him what to do. Maybe he could find an ancient library or something similar? Good luck!
  10. Bran
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    Bran New Member

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    A spirit could teach him, like suddenly BANSHEES said. Thats what I would do in your situation. In fact, thats what i'm doing in my own situation.
  11. Just Jon
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    Just Jon New Member

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    Ditto on the spirit mentor (although the squirrel mentor does have high appeal as well). Perhaps the very act of him acquiring the powers, awakens or summons something that has been dormant. Maybe some sleeping/imprisoned/hidden/trapped entity can now escape/communicate/move and assist him. The mentor could have full strength and capabilities, or it could be severely injured or somehow reduced in powers as a result of the imprisonment. Think of a weak or crippled master-trainer that knows so much but can no longer wield the power.

    And if you do choose a squirrel, please post excerpts in the forum. :)
  12. Photon
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    Photon New Member

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    Make him a Chris Tucker, Chris Rock sort of tutor rather than the imperial buddha approach.
  13. Gammer
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    Actually decided on a dog mentor. One of the characters who the MC encounters has a bond with this dog which is actually a guardian spirit in Earth form but for various reasons relating to the villain he's trapped in the form of a dog. So the dog is teaching the MC the more spirtual aspects of his new ablities such as sensing ghosts and other spirits while his Imperial mentors are teaching him sword fighting and other combat technqiues all the while wondering why the hell the MC is taking advice from a dog.
  14. jackratko
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    jackratko New Member

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    ^^thats genius...
  15. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt New Member

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    Lots of good ideas already posted - one more that may or maynot be a good idea is to have someone who has no magical gifts help the person experiment until they discover what he can do and how to do it.
  16. icescreamy
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    icescreamy New Member

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    A mentor could be something that is inanimate, like a book.

    Or if your plot requires, and your story is ok with this kind of coincidence perhaps a line of toys that move around with different actions, the same action that your character needs to perform certain spells.
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  17. SeverinR
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    SeverinR New Member

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    I agree with icecreamy, I think.

    The power hasn't been seen in a thousand years, so most people that had first hand knowlege is dead(unless they live alot longer then we do).
    So the mentor might be an ethical/philosopher librarian? That has access to the old books that tell of the power. Even if documented, more then likely the child will have trial and error in using the power. The historian would document major occurences that harmed people, (so this should be avoided) but would not be magic specific such as: "draw a triangle in the air with the index finger while reciting the ____alphabet." (as an example of a translator spell?)

    The mentor needs to be wise to teach the special child not to be evil or misuse his power, or reversely the mentor could manipulte the gifted to improve his life, distrust all others except for the mentor, so the mentor will be the only one to benefit. Or some place in between the two, which would be more true to life, since most people aren't totally evil, nor totally good.
    Who wouldn't want to do magic to harm an enemy in some small way? To get that special object they want using the magic, not neccessarily stealing it, but getting it with an unfair advantage by magic.
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