The Hero’s Journey Plot Point The Mentor and How I Used It for: Tam Lin: A Modern, Queer Retelling–Excerpt from Chapter Two

Since I’m working on a modern retelling of a myth, I’m using a hero’s journey style plot. The very first plot point is called a call to action (or adventure). I posted Tom’s call to adventure here . Usually the call to action/adventure for a myth is some sort of quest, but in Tom’s case, it’s a trip to Ireland to discover his family’s roots. I briefly mention Tom is adopted and knows nothing of his biological family’s history.

The next plot point is where the hero denies or refuses the call for some reason or another. I didn’t post that part because I’m only posting excerpts, not the entire story, but it’s happened. Tom said no to the trip.

In this excerpt, our hero Tom seeks advice about his relationship. In myths, after the hero denies the call to adventure, they meet or seek the advice from a mentor. In Hero’s Journey style plot, the mentor encourages the hero to answer the call to action or adventure. (Note: I’m a big comic book geek and had a little fun with the Sage One’s name in this scene.)


Tom finished his fourth IPA, swimming in the floaty-tingling of mild inebriation. Across the high-stool table, sat a stout man with a well-groomed, salt n pepper beard and coke bottle bottom glasses. Professor Xavier kept his hair in the same close-clipped academic style he wore since 1984. Instead of a tweed jacket with elbow patches like most men in their sixties, the professor wore a purple UW hoodie and fitted black jeans. Tom was sure his former professor, now employer and confidant, paired those with sensible shoes.  

“Then he said, ‘I’m out.’ Packed all his things and left. And, I just stood there with my brochures.”

His former professor folded his hands on the table. “Thomas, I have never given relationship advice, I have to say something here. Mr. A., as you call him, has every right to be worried. He’s a foreign-born, Black, Latino living in a time of the greatest progress and the greatest regression in civil liberties in American history. He comes from a community that’s even less accepting of queers. Coming out is harder for him than it was for us, and you’re not right to push him on it.”

Put in that light, Tom’s anger deflated. “What should I do?” 

“Write him an apology letter, acknowledge you come from a position of privilege and that you have no idea what it’s like to be him, but you’re willing to be his ally if not his man, and, my good friend, write it from Ireland.” Professor Xavier smiled as he lifted his IPA, sweat beading on the bottle ran in tiny rivulets dripping on the table. “I don’t care who bought the trip. You’d be a fool to pass up the opportunity.”

Tom wasn’t angry anymore, but he also wasn’t ready to apologize. He should take Ariel up on his offer and have a little fun in Ireland. “The flight’s tomorrow at 4:30 am. Are you going to drop me?” 

Professor Xavier looked at his watch, fiddled with the digital screen. “Go home. Throw some clothes, your laptop, and good walking shoes into a backpack. I’ll lend you my European outlet converters. Text me when you’re ready to leave.” He made a shooing motion. “Go on, I got the check.”

“But what about–” 

“I’ll hold your position. Thomas, this isn’t a trip to the San Juans. You’re going somewhere steeped in history. It’ll be good to have seen the places you teach about. Your family’s personal history. The novel you’ve been meaning to write is on the Emerald Isle. Go.”

For more information regarding the Hero’s Journey plot:

Written material ©Tammy Deschamps

Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

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