1. Joey Wish

    Joey Wish New Member

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    I need help with writing a 'mentor character'.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Joey Wish, Oct 18, 2021.

    Hello to you all. This will be my first post on this website and I am asking the following question because I could not find it anywhere else.

    For my story that I am writing, I want to have a dynamic character who is a teacher to the Main Character (male) and the Rival Character (also male).

    What I need help with are his emotions. He needs to be reluctant to take the two boys under his wing at first. He doesn't like working with children and isn't to fond of 'working from scratch' as he is experienced when it comes to his profession (Mercenary/Assassin).However, over time he needs to come to the realization that the two young boys are simply children that require guidance and not some type of brute mercenary that he usually works with.

    The reason that he doesn't like working with children is because he lost his sons and a very young age. I want the mentor to see the two boys as his own flesh and blood over the course of the story. But I haven't the faintest idea as to how... I can't seem to figure out how to do this character's progression over the course of the story nor WHY he should care about the boys or what impact the boys could have on him.

    I have been stuck on this character for a couple of weeks and desperately want to make it happen as he is a very important character in my story.
    If it helps, my story is a Fantasy, Adventure, Action, Romance, with a hint of Comedy.

    Any suggestions are fine and all help is appreciated. I am completely stuck...
    Thanks in advance.
    -Wish
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Maybe one of them does something that suddenly reminds him of himself when he was young, and he begins to see himself in them. Maybe each has some trait that's like one of his own. And maybe he hasn't remembered back to childhood for many decades, think's it's a sign of weak-mindedness, as in "I put the things of childhood behind me". He had to really toughen up on becoming a man, and has put all that silly weak childhood stuff behind him forever, but one of the kids does something and suddenly it comes rushing back, just one moment from his own childhood. And he now has some warmth and compassion, things he had forced out of his life long ago. A little touch of his inner child emerges to the surface and he suddenly knows it's the most important part of him, he didn't purge it as he believed but only submerged it into the unconscious. And now the genie is out of the bottle.

    Or something like that.
     
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  3. Joey Wish

    Joey Wish New Member

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    Damn, casually throwing some solid advice in this direction...
    I had a similar idea in the back of my head but wasn't sure on how to execute that idea. Until now.

    Thank you for replying Xoic. I'll see what I can do with this.
    I will say I'm not 100% sure about him still... As one question is answered, more start appearing :p
     
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  4. Chromewriter

    Chromewriter Contributor Contributor

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    I've always loved stories about bhuddist monks who refuse to mentor people. They become so sassy about it, at least in the telling of the stories. So bear in mind that's my biggest influence when I'm trying to conceptualise the relationship.

    You have a very dynamic scenario, but I think we need to start by asking questions in this order:

    1. What is your characters creed? Alternately, his sons died, cool, now how does this relate to his creed? That's the question you need to answer before you can decide how he'd warm up to them. It's very important you get this backstory figured out because it would be the crux of the emotions he would feel while interacting with the protag.

    If he believes that he's never going to let kids be harmed, he'll become over protective. If he's motivated for revenge and he doesn't want kids in the way, he's going to be apathetic. If he is hurt by their likeness to his sons, he is going to be cruel.

    2. What can your character gain by bring in a relationship with the kids?

    This can be material profit if you want it to be. But that's a weak motivation for him. If he wants revenge, he can use them. If he wants redemption, he'll get it by helping them. If he wants a fresh start and move on, it can happen through them.

    I think a lot of writers don't give adequate or reasonable motivations for why a character would go out of there way to help their protag. In your case, you have a very clear motivational factor (he had sons). The issue with this is that it's in the past. There is no future motivation.

    3. Does he need to fully accept them as students for the story to move forward? Why can't he be a half assed teacher?

    Ok this part is my opinion, but teachers aren't perfect. They are human and they can have failings. Maybe this means he doesn't have to fully accept them, just sorta teach them a few things and bounce. This would be the most realistic If he doesn't want to teach them in the first place.

    Ok so I've not mentioned the bhuddist influence, but I think the last option and my favourite one is the mentor who unconventionally finds a way for the student to get to his answer. Maybe he does a lot of bullshit that seems like he's not teaching them at all, but they slowly become more cunning to deal with his antics. Then, in the end his heart softens because they have accepted his teachings.

    Just ended up becoming a bunch of thoughts rather than a specific way to answer your question.
     
  5. Joey Wish

    Joey Wish New Member

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    Holy damn... A lot more solid advice...

    First of all, thanks to you as well for replying Chrome. You just gave me a bunch of inspiration!
    And second. I'll be honest, I hadn't even thought about the creed from his past.

    My idea for the past/his backstory, was that he fell in love with a woman from another creed and they quit their work to live together in a remote location. A former colleague of the mentor (who was very jealous of his power) betrayed him and revealing his location to the government. The government then burned down the village where he was staying and killed everyone in the village except for him as he was away during that time. He returns to the village to find it in ashes. His wife and two newborn sons included. He knew is was his former colleague because he was the only one who knew about their location. Ever since the government learned that they failed to kill him, he has been hunted down ever since. Never having a moment of rest as he has been on the run for the next 5+ years as he tried to figure out where his former colleague is hiding so he can get revenge on him for destroying his life.

    So, long story short. Yes, it is a revenge-driven setup. But ultimately, the story I want to him now is a story that allows him to move on from his past. My idea was, I want him to focus on the two boys as the next generation who haven't gotten their opportunity in life yet.
    But now I realize that I want the Mentor to accept the two boys into his life as his adoptive sons. That way they might help him move on from his traumatic past filled with despair and pain. I feel that the mentor could have another chance at being a father at the same time.

    Maybe the two boys could hunt down the betrayer from the mentor's past. Although, now I feel that if I do that the mentor won't have any story for the future aside from a new family (no new love-interest for him though).


    Through all of this, I noticed that I forgot a single detail in the beginning. I want the mentor to LIVE to the end of the story. NOT have him die so that the MC or Rival could have a motivation moment. I find that that type of setup is a cliché which is what I am trying to avoid.

    I have a much clearer image of the type of story that I want for and from him.
    Thank you two so much for replying to my cry for help.
    I truly appreciate it!
     
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  6. Chromewriter

    Chromewriter Contributor Contributor

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    Any time! :)
     
  7. sheena

    sheena New Member

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    Hi there! a few ideas came into my head reading this,

    1. Could the fact that the mentor is an assassin be a secret from most people including the two boys, additionally the two boys could be rivals because they are entering some fighting tournament? And the mentor is a master at this type of fighting?

    2. this fighting tournament is the mentor’s cover to his secret and maybe the man who was responsible for his family's murder is the head of this tournament and the only way to get close to him is to have one of the boys win the tournament. He would need a disguise to keep his identity secret until he got close enough.

    3. A potentional love interest for the mentor could be the partner of the man he wants revenge on. She is bullied into staying with this man and he abuses her. She secretly wants to be with the mentor as he was her child hood best friend. She hosts the tournaments for her husband. Giving the mentor chances to reveal his identity to her secretly as they haven’t seen each other since her father forced her to marry the other man because he was rich or her father worked for him and was in a lot of debt.

    4.At the end the mentor would decide revenge is not worth it at and leave ( at this point he would have somehow helped the woman get out of her abusive relationship) but the man he was seeking revenge on becomes jealous and angry and angrier once he realizes his identity and tries to kill him. The boys him attack him and the villain grabs one of the boys and tries to kill him, the other boy manages to save him and the villain dies as a result . This makes him realize he’s been starting to see these kids as his children, and that all along they’ve reminded him of his sons which at first made him resent them but then grew to love them and decides to adopt them. He and the boys and his child hood friend live happily ever after.

    These are just suggestions! Do whatever feels right to you
     
  8. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    I think one film that did this the best was Million Dollar Baby. How they did that was that was that the trainer was a grizzled old guy who didn't wish to train the main character. You soon realize that hardness was a fake front that hid his real feelings toward training.
     
  9. ZePh

    ZePh New Member

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    I have a question for your question. Everyone has their way of writing.
    But I wanted to find out if you're busy with the outline or if you are a fellow discovery writer (Architect or Gardener author)?

    Some tips I can give are as follows:

    1. As @Chromewriter mentioned, most people would become protective of children after losing their own. As someone who has spent countless hours with real people who have been through this kind of thing, I speak from experience.
    This in itself could be a reason for him to be reluctant to teach them, he doesn't want them going down the path that he went down, the path that lead to his family's death.

    2. The most obvious (perhaps too obvious) way to get him to view them in a more loving light is by having them become sons to him by seeing pieces of himself in them (this was mentioned before as well).
    The "why" he should care about them is just that: A WHY. You have a question, that's excellent. Now it's your job as the author to figure out the answer.
    You need to just write. :write: Write ten different storyline drafts/outlines with him and see which one you prefer. It's hard to give tips with something like this. I was thinking of something similar to @Xoic, that's the best way to go in my opinion.
    But it's really up to you. Just write and write until you figure it out for yourself, drawing from the great tips in this thread :superwink:
     
  10. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    Didn't you, like, just answer your own question? He comes to care about them because he lost is own sons and they act as a surrogate. This presumably lets him deal with the loss and whatever trauma it caused, as well as reconnect with the fatherly feelings he may have abandoned or suppressed. Obviously he'd be reluctant to suffer the same pain all over again, but he still needs that relationship in order to heal.

    He may not consciously realize this right away - he'll just feel intuitively inclined to foster the boys, probably while making a whole lot of excuses: He's just putting up with them for the time being, it's convenient to have them around for one reason or the other, he doesn't really care but figures he should teach them the basics so they can manage on their own, might be good to have a couple of young allies as he's getting older, etc. Then all of a sudden he realizes that he's practically adopted them and that they actually mean a lot to him.

    It would be natural for a man living a rather violent life to want to avoid perceived weaknesses, especially if he's been hurt in the past. But it's also perfectly natural for a man who lost his children to feel protective of a couple of kids who've come to rely on him. This is pretty standard human behavior: He'd have to be some sort of psychopath to _not_ form a bond with them.
     
  11. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Curmudgeon. Contributor

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    Suggested reading would be R.A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. In it is one of my favorite 'mentor characters.' Jubal Harshaw was also a thinly veiled alter ego of the author. He was a crusty old curmudgeon, not prone to be bothered by anyone, but sees the amazing potential of the main character. I read it when I was seventeen in 1972, and old Harshaw for sure influenced me.
     

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