If you listen to anything that has to do with story structure, you will inevitably hear about the Mentor. Every good story has one. If you’ve ever study Joseph Campbell or fans of his such as Shawn Coyne, the author of The Story Grid and co-host of The Story Grid Podcast, or countless other fantastic books on writing, you’ll have come across some of the essential elements required in a story that lasts.
The Mentor is one of those elements.
The Mentor is the one who helps your MC navigate through the story, gives them the training and seeds to grow to help them complete their arch. Sometimes the mentor is obvious, like your Obi-Wan Kenobi’s, or your Gandalf’s. But sometimes they’re less obvious, like Hannibal Lecter, or Genie from Aladdin. Their job is to keep the moral compass of the MC running straight and show them how the game is played.
This spread is for the purpose of creating an interesting mentor that hopefully doesn’t fall into any of the usual clichés, but still ticks the boxes of Mentorship.
It’s not just the Mentor that matters, but how the MC and the Mentor get along. This spread looks at the description of the Mentor as well as the dynamic between the two. Not only does this help to keep the plot moving forward, but it also deepens your Main Character, giving them a learning curve.
The first three cards of the spread are dedicated to outlining the description of the Mentor. Card 1 will represent the Mentor as a whole, while Card a will represent the physical description. Card b will represent the Mentor’s attitude. From here you can divulge any characteristics or personality traits that makes them stand out as their own unique individual.
The ‘second’ card, Card 2 is the situation which unites the Mentor and MC, at least the first time. While this might not seal the bond, it gets the ball rolling, and contribute to the development of their relationship for the long haul.
Just like with the Main Character, the Mentor is in part defined by how others perceive them. The third card in the spread is how the MC perceives the Mentor. This will help direct how they interact with one another, at least at first. Of course, as always with the Tarot, it’s only based on current patterns.
Despite whatever the dynamic may be, the Mentor sees something in the MC, and that is why they stick to your MC. Card 4 is the what they see in them/why they decide your Main Character is worth their time.
These three cards look at the dynamic between the Mentor and your MC. Card 5 will be the summary of their dynamic, their general relationship. Card c is the MC’s attitude toward the Mentor and card d is how the Mentor influences your MC.
Card 6 represents the over-arching thing the Mentor has to teach your Main Character. This might have been touched on with other cards, so be sure to go and connect the two later on. Look at how these cards might support and contrast each other.
In most cases, the Mentorship has to come to a seemingly premature end. If nothing else, they reach a point in which they can’t be there for your MC any more, and the MC is left to stand on their own two feet and make their own decisions. Card 7 represents the Demise, or at the very least, the reason for separation. Remember, whatever this reason is, it must motivate your MC.
My Mentor reading took me on a bit of a wild ride. At first I got pretty literal with my Trippin’ Waite deck, especially since it’s so easy just to want to gravitate toward the depiction of pot leaves on tunics, and butterfly wings on Kings.
However, after sitting on it for a little while, I came up with a more appropriate character for my Mentor.
I was lucky in that my Mentor is represented by the King of Swords. Initially when I did the first spread on my prep day, I got the King of Swords, the Queen of Swords, the Ace of Swords—all of this led me to believe that there was going to be something to do with legalities. I’ve since decided that they’re representing a wealthy family who are the local Lords. They’re a bit eccentric. I’ve since thought that the Lady in the Garden, is going to be the daughter of the Lord, and she’s the one with whom my MC makes illegal deals with.
Anyway, the Mentor I think is actually going to be her father. So I’ve now got to work on developing a character who’s on the other side of the moral fence who still keeps my MC’s moral compass in line. I’ve got my work cut out for me.
For Card a, I got the 3 of Cups, which makes me think that either he looks like an alcoholic, a player (lots of ladies around), or someone who seems to always have a party around him, even though he doesn’t party himself. Or, it could be that he just has lots of daughters and women around him. Perhaps he’s really into Goddess worship, and has lots a feminine statues about. I don’t know, I’m still working on this one.
Card b gave me his attitude, which is the 4 of Swords. In my Trippin’ Waite deck, it’s a guy laying on his bed listening to music, which I really love, by the way. I think that he’s surprisingly laid back about things, but there has to be something oppressive about him to give me that conflicting energy in the first scene. So it could be a little closer to the actual definition of the 4 of Swords, of resting after a hard fight or an illness. He’s relaxed only because he’s recovering. I think the element of vulnerability might be a good opener of trust for my MC.
Card 2 for me was the 2 of Coins. I did consider perhaps on the beach, or at a fair, though I’m not entirely sure, since the Mentor might be recovering. I don’t know how much he would be out and about. However, if the 2 of Coins is something that my MC does quite regular—juggling a bunch of tasks, it could be one of these tasks which puts him in the realm of the Mentor and has their paths cross.
The perception my MC has of the Mentor is the Knight of Pentacles reversed. Again,t his is where I was struggling with not taking the card literally and being drawn to the cannabis leaves on the tunic. But I’m lucky in that I have a court card to represent my Mentor. The Knight of Pentacles is a grounded drive forward, a slow-burning temper to me. There’s an immaturity, not child-likeness, but just an element of playing ‘a young man’s game’ about the Knight. Except that the Knight is reversed, and thus there may not be as much stability as there should be. A rocky grounding, perhaps.
So my MC’s perception of the Mentor is that he just doesn’t have his footing on things. He appears to be a partier that keeps slipping from control in his life. But little does my MC know, the Mentor is the King of Swords. He’s grounded. He’s intelligent. He’s wise.
What it is that makes the Mentor take a shining to my Main Character is the 8 of Cups reversed. The 8 of Cups is walking away from something good because they know there is something better. I think in reversed, in this situation, it’s the intention of walking away, wanting that control, but giving in any way. I think that the Mentor sees the want for self-control, and thus wants to help develop and nurture that in the MC.
The overall summary of the interactions of the MC and the Mentor is the 10 of Cups reversed. There’s a lot to work on, and for the most part, they don’t really get on. But all the water from the cups is spilt all over the floor, and they are mixed up in it.
The Main Character’s attitude is the Page of Pentacles, someone who just wants to get paid so he can get his business sorted out. He just wants to buy this business from his boss and be done with it. But with the influence of the Mentor, the Hanged Man reversed he’s becoming just like the Mentor.
Now—how I got that: If you look at the King of Swords in the Trippin’ Waite, and the Hanged man, you’ll notice they both have butterfly wings. I realized that when you add the King of Swords to the Page of Pentacles, you get the Hanged Man reversed—visually, that is.
The 3 of Wands is what the Mentor has to teach my MC, which is expansion and growth. This corresponds nicely with the butterfly wings, but also with the wants of the MC to be able to have a business and expand it. But, he’s not expanding it in the manner of the Pentacles, he’s expanding it in the manner of the Wands, which means he’s got to learn to cultivate his passions and expand it.
Card 7 tells how the Mentor meets their demise, and in this case, it’s all too perfect: I got the 10 of Swords. I don’t really see how I need to alter this to anything other than he gets stabbed a bunch of times.
I thought now might be a good time to share some really helpful resources when it comes to story structure. I already mentioned the Story Grid, but here are some others