The Meaning of Mentor, Crisis, and Climax


In the three-act structure, there’s a difference between a mentor and a Mentor. Friends, allies, and mentors might help your hero out at any point on her journey, but the capital M Mentor serves a specific function: the Mentor helps your protagonist to overcome the fear that made her refuse the Call to Adventure; the Mentor is the figure who nudges your hero into Crossing the First Threshold.

Occasionally, an author will submit an outline to me that has the Mentor appearing in Act 2 or Act 3, but, by definition, the Mentor is an Act 1 figure, a character who helps the hero to make the leap into Act 2.

I find that writers also get confused sometimes about the Crisis and the Climax. To be clear: the Climax falls hard on the heels of the Crisis. In the Crisis, the hero confronts her greatest challenge. In the Climax, she either succeeds or fails in rising to that challenge. The Climax is the outcome of the Crisis.

Make sense? If not, feel free to get in touch.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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