Home » Uncategorized » Bonus Post: “Who Is Your Master?”

Bonus Post: “Who Is Your Master?”


Courtesy of Hong King Cinema

Courtesy of Hong Kong Cinema

You have seen this haven’t you?

A martial arts movie where the student is looking for a master.

Well, let me back up.

First, the student has to either: 1) lose a master who was killed by a great villain or 2) get the shellacking beat of them by the villain and now the student wants revenge.  In either case, the student ends up finding a master of kung fu with a fighting style that is fresh and unique.

Stunned at the Masters amazing skills, the student submits to the teachings and raw training in order to become better.  Then the student is placed into the monstrous training schedule where at first, they will stumble.  Get hurt.  Lose sleep.  Yet the urge for revenge is so strong that this pulls them to go through the training to become more.

Next, the student has a chance to show their skills (e.g. a group of thugs out of control) and beat the snot out of them with their new skill set.

The student realizes that they are ready to face the villain and leaves the Master.  The student tracks the villain down and engages in a epic battle.  The villain is impressed with the new upstarts skill.

Eventually the hero will unleash a super duper snooper special technique that kills the villain and the hero is left standing to fight a new day.

The hero will unleash a super duper snooper special technique that kills the villain and the hero is left standing to fight a new day.

Now, why did I go through all of this summary?

Here’s why.

You are the student of writing. You need to find a mentor. Who do you trust? Where do you go? Who do you learn from?

Just how the student in kung-fu films won’t learn from any Joe Schmoe, you need to be very careful on whom you learn from in the sacred art of Write Fu.

Here are 4 probing questions on choosing your own Grand Master to learn from:

  1. Experience: How long has the author been writing? How many works do they have under their belt? What sort of track record do they have? Do they blog frequently or sporadically?
  2. Results: Are they producing high quality work that you can learn from? What are the testimonials of those who read they work? Do the testimonials glow with praise? Do only two readers adore them or have they been reviewed by many readers with positive praise?
  3. Credibility: What are the author’s credentials? Do they have a degree? (*) Who vouch for them? Are there well-known authors who endorse them? – (*) Side note: A college degree does not necessary mean success yet this can help if this criteria is important to you.
  4. Strengths: Does the author do something extremely well that you want to learn from them? Prose? Characterization? Concept? Voice?

So what about you?

Who are the writing mentors you have relied on? How have they helped you in developing your craft?

P.S. What’s your favorite martial art movie and why?


16 thoughts on “Bonus Post: “Who Is Your Master?”

  1. I was wondering how you were going to tie this into writing! I haven’t found a grand master yet. I’m still on the lookout. Right now the internet is my grand master. The key is filtering out the good advice from the bad. It’s not always easy to do.

    Haven’t watched many movies lately. The last I watched was “The curse of the golden flower”. Not my fave though.

  2. Ha! I’m kind of in the same position. Though…do authors we read count? <_< I follow a few pretty regularly on their blogs and post there: Martha Wells and Kay Kenyon mostly, though I've been following Martha a bit longer. And, so far, I've read more of her books. (It's not like I've ever went to them, though, and said, "Will you be my mentor, pleaze?!?!?!")

    Otherwise, I don't really have a mentor. I'm just influenced by a lot of what I read and therefore choose what I read wisely. (I can't read just for pleasure anymore; I’m always looking at it from a writer’s perspective.

    And lastly, my favorite martial arts movie… Crouching Tiger, probably, but I also really enjoyed Hero with Jet Li. There were some pretty awesome scenes in that movie.

    (Oh, yeah, and I’m totally listening to “Kung Fu Fighting” right now. No joke. My playlist is on random, too.)

    • Yes, Yoyo…the authors you read do count. The key is to distill the authors down to who will teach you what you need to know in order to build you to be the best. Now many will want to jump on the Stephen King or J.K. Rowling bandwagon or even C.S. Lewis (particularly Christians)…I say broaden your horizons and introduce oneself to new writers who can be your mentor. And no, you don’t have to ask them directly.

      Crouching Tiger? I thought you would pick Fearless. Now that’s a movie.

  3. Your post brings up a couple things for me.

    1) The “whitewashing” in Asian movies, like The Last Airbender, The Forbidden Kingdom, and of course Akira. Just amazing, and once I’m pissed off enough, I’ll have to post on that topic.

    2) But geez. I don’t really have a mentor. Robert Cormier, my all time favorite YA author, and I did have a phone conversation once. He told me to keep writing, and to keep it honest.

    3) Favorites: I’ll go old school with Enter the Dragon. Followed by Bloodsport, Crouching Tiger, Hero, Matrix Reloaded, and Equilibrium.

    • A mentor is anyone you decide to take on to learn from whether they are available or not. 🙂

      I understand your point about “white-washing”…especially about Akira…this will definitely tick off the fans.

  4. Hmm… I’ve learned a lot by reading and thinking about what a lot of the greats have written – from Tolkien and Lewis to Jordan and Rowling to a good number in between. And there are a lot of good lessons there. I also follow the blogs of a number of other authors I respect.

    But, I dunno… I find it hard to classify any of them as a “mentor” when the relationship isn’t mutual. I guess I classify it as a mentor-mentee relationship when the mentor actually agrees to take you under his wing… because then you’ll get the personal touch of actually learning directly from the master when the master tells you what you’re doing wrong and why, and shows you how to do it right. I don’t have one of those – at least not yet.

      • That’s a fare definition. I mean my own for myself, though. I’m coming at this from a certain perspective where I have learned to think about mentoring in a certain way. I agree there’s plenty you can learn by studying the works and sayings of specific writers with whom you have no formal relationship. (Although, I think a complete education in this regard would involve similarly studying multiple such authors.)

        But for myself, I should think that a mentor-mentee situation that involves an actual direct relationship would be even more valuable.

        That said, of course I try to make a habit of studying the work of those authors whom I most admire.

  5. Also… fave kung-fu movie. I dunno. I like Crouching Tiger, sure. Hero was cool and a good movie stylistically but too fatalistic for my tastes (and too “Hooray Communist China Wins Foreverz!”, which was the not-so-subtle subtext; though then again I loved both “The Patriot” and “Saving Private Ryan” neither of which were kung-fu movies but which were both “Hooray USA Wins Foreverz!”; propoganda is such an individual taste, I suppose).

    Also enjoyed Matrix (all three, actually, though I know it’s gauche like like anything but the first), though I classify that not as a Kung-fu movie but as live-action anime.

    A few years ago watched “Drunk Master” and that was quite enjoyable…

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