Mentor Characters in novels can be extremely helpful. In this video, I list the most common mentor characters, and also why they can add more to your novel.
You will more than likely know a mentor character. Most commonly, they are really old, sometimes gruff, and are always there to give main characters advice. Is a mentor character what your novel is missing?
Before we talk about why mentor characters are used, I should probably talk about what types there are.
1. In Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, there is Gandolph. In Harry Potter, there is Dumbledore. The wise-old mentor is, without a doubt, the most common mentor character in fantasy; and it is understandable.
2. Another commonly used one is the gruff lost old man. Most commonly, it is a man with a rough past who comes across a kid. This gruff old man sees the kid as a son or daughter, and softens up to them while also helping the kid along. Examples most people would know are Joel and Ellie from the game “The Last of us,” Wolverine and X-23 from the X-men, Brom and Eragon from the book Eragon, and so on.
The major problem with the wise-old-man and the gruff man is that they are most commonly doomed to die. Brom? Dead. Wolverine? Dead. Dumbledore? Dead. Gandalf? Dies and comes back. This happens because their propose was mostly to guide the main characters like a parent, so when the time comes for the main character to “grow up” and adventure off on their own, writers kill off the mentor character to force the main character onward. To me, this is what is what readers now expect to happen.
3. My favorite might just be the best friend. Sam is, without a doubt, a mentor character to Frodo. He always gives advice and keeps Frodo going. This one is not as commonly used because…well..friends in general are pretty rare for main characters. This character does not have to be timid or as emotional as Sam; they can actually be the rude one of the group who is rarely serious but gives great advice when needed.
4. Another one used is the romantic interest, but I don’t like that one as much. I think having a mentor character who is not a romantic interest is a great opportunity to show off what amazing other characters you have.
5. The last one is the dead character. This one happens occasionally in novels. What happens with this one is a character loses someone important to them and is going through a rough time, and the dead character comes back from the grave to give advice. Now, I don’t mean that literally, and I don’t even mean by ghosts what I mean is more of hallucinations. The main character is beat up and is about to give up and stop fighting when they get advice from the dead character in form of hallucination. Sometimes it is never explained on if the dead character was a hallucination or a ghost, but either way they give the main character a push to keep going.
Mentors are extremely important to novels; especially to younger main characters. There are times where people get lost and need a little bit of help to keep going. I think it is a great idea to have a mentor character in your novel. They allow your character to have a really deep moment of weakness, while also knowing exactly how to bring your main character out of it.
My only suggestions? Consider avoiding the wise-old-man because it is the most over done in my opinion. Also consider keeping the mentor alive, or at least keeping them alive past the half-way mark in your book since this happens too often. If you want to do something completely different, consider having the mentor character be a woman. Nearly all mentor character I have read have been male, so this might help separate your mentor character from others.
So thats it for now!
Do you have someone who is always trying to cheer your main character on? Are there any other mentor types I missed? Please let me know in the comments below.