The Mentor or Teacher character role function can be vital, especially when a protagonist undergoes what I call a ‘transformative arc’ (ie. when a character undergoes a change or learning experience).

I’ve noted the following from produced and published content:

  • Mentors and teachers play a heavy part in the romance and comedy genres of novel writing; they tend to feature less in modern crime fiction, especially psychological Thrillers (aka ‘Grip Lit’) featuring a lone female protagonist who is ‘alone’ (and usually not a police officer or other authority figure).
  • Mentors and teachers are present in all screenwriting, both TV and movies (yet all spec scripts usually don’t utilise them)
  • On TV mentors & teachers are usually combined with other role functions (such as comic relief or even antagonist), but movies tend to have a very specific mentor/teacher role function in its own right
  • Mentors and teachers are most often male and/or otherwise a marginalised character, especially LGBT or BAME (though rarely both of these combined)
  • When women are mentors or teachers, they usually teach other women; they rarely teach men
  • In screenwriting, teachers and mentors are usually secondary characters and can be found in pretty much all genres, though Comedy, Thriller and Action-Adventure tend to feature them the most
  • Drama will also heavily feature mentors or teachers, though here they are just as likely to be ‘Change Agents’, especially protagonists, as well as secondary characters).

So I thought this infographic below was pretty cool as a reminder of this important role function, as well as the inspiration it offers. Check out the links after the graphic for more information on characterisation and how this role function works. Enjoy!

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