L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami May 6, 2014 - 2:52pm

Specifically in regards to the hero's journey. Does the mentor in such a traditional story have to necessarilly be an actual mentor, or can the learning experience perhaps be within the protagonists head?

Yes I'm a plotter, though in general I don't tend to follow (at least a traditional) hero's journey within a long short story. The story is often about the emotional experience, and then may not have that traditional "resolution as hero's reward" type climax.

One person I know of calls the formula the tragedy, though I don't think only tragedies have to be plotted that way. (Like stories that seem to punish the hero, but turn out more rewarding than what the plot was originally setting up -- very difficult to do well.)

I have some thinkinf to do, as a lot of my short story tragedies are starting to look the same.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 6, 2014 - 6:15pm

Well, if he is a voice he isn't an outside source of advice.  That is the point of the mentor.  You can't remove that without some very different things.  Can't kill him, can't hide him, and so on.  

In what way are they ending up similar? 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami May 7, 2014 - 9:13pm

Well although the character is different, the ending is much the same.

That is, the Tragedy Ex Machina type conclusion. (A twist revealed that suddenly makes everything absolutely suck like hell for the protagonist.)

I am trying to fix that for my middle grade.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 10:01pm

Well, maybe go with less Ex Machina and more logic.

Hook's picture
Hook May 11, 2014 - 4:02pm

Does the mentor in such a traditional story have to necessarilly be an actual mentor, or can the learning experience perhaps be within the protagonists head?

I would say definitely.  The point of the mentor isn't the learning experience, it's that the hero is learning from someone else and is often reluctant or combative about it.

 

Geek's picture
Geek from California is reading Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson May 11, 2014 - 6:44pm

The Mentor doesn't have to be an actual mentor or teacher figure -- in fact, the Mentor need not be a person at all. It could be a symbolic object, the character's conscience, or any number of things. It could even be the function of a character who, in the rest of the story, personifies a completely different archetype. The important thing is that the hero needs a little guidance, knowledge, and wisdom on his/her journey before handling the greatest tests on his/her own. Whatever provides this dons the Mentor mask. :)

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 11, 2014 - 8:42pm

It isn't that Geek and Hook are wrong, but I think they might be answering a different question then you asked.  Those both seem like good answers to

"Do I need a mentor for my MC to learn and grow?"

Regarding what you asked

Specifically in regards to the hero's journey. Does the mentor in such a traditional story have to necessarilly be an actual mentor, or can the learning experience perhaps be within the protagonists head?

Like I said, it depends specifically why you don't want one.  It does change things, but that isn't always bad. Which leads me to ask, why don't you want one/what are you worried about?  Or what makes you conflicted?  

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami May 11, 2014 - 10:50pm

Well I tend to prefer the mentor experience rather than the mentor literal person.

I often find if I try to write a flesh in blood person it ends up feeling canned or campy. Mostly cause I don't dislike, but I don't really enjoy typical quest stories. But then again, I mean I like classic JRPGs and their series.

The mentor experience being where one is forced to teach themself how the new world works at a rabid speed where they have to adapt. I've been struggling to find a way to have the hero learn new information that could change their "quest", without necessarily having a physical person.

Also to add, I'm not very experienced with stories where you would naturally have to learn more or need a physical mentor. For example like being on a spaceship, and crashing on a fantasy world. I tend to do more story collections set in different incedents based around a small period of time in a setting much like the present. ...blarrrgh sorry that was long winded.

Geek's picture
Geek from California is reading Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson May 12, 2014 - 9:15am

Sarah, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler. It distills everything Campbell taught about the Hero's Journey and all the associated archetypes into a guide specifically for writers.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal May 12, 2014 - 11:50am

Sticking to basic concepts- doesn't a mentor- by definition- have to be conscious of not "alive" per se?  At least for the mentoring portion of the story?

Otherwise, the hero who has an object do the "mentoring" is really learning by him/herself, as no "mentoring" is actually going on.  

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 12, 2014 - 1:20pm

@Sarah - So why do you want to put one in or why are you hesitant to leave one out?  You seem like you've made up your mind.  Which isn't bad, I just don't see your real life conflict.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami May 12, 2014 - 3:14pm

Well I seem to write in completely different styles I guess. Like I seem more suited to writing a contemporary style of science fiction, yet always wanted to do traditional epic fantasy for middle grade. I guess I'll rectify it after getting that book. Its more I can't seem to make up my mind.