The Sidekick

Best FriendsThe sidekick.  The best friend.  The partner in crime.  The Conscience.  The angel and devil on the other end of your phone call.

Whatever you call it, everyone needs one of those friends you can say anything to, and get an honest opinion from.  Someone you can hang out with, someone who will support you even when you are being stupid, someone who will tell you when you are being ridiculous.  I have a couple.

So why is it so hard for me to put those characters in my books?  I am very bad at being focused on my main two characters, who are busy falling in love and moving toward that happily-ever-after.  If there are other characters, they are ancillary at best, simply characters who appear because some plot twist needs to be advances.  There might be a villain (there is always a villain in my stories) but that’s not what I’m talking about.

Why is it so hard to write in that best friend?  In writing terms, that extra character can really provide some conflict and movement in a story.  No one lives in a vacuum that includes only themselves.  There is interaction everywhere.  Why do we only see occasional entrances with very quick exits from these ancillary characters?  I often have to remind myself to go back in and add some more people, and to build a “best friend” or at least a sister or family member that is going to show up regularly in the story.  The lack of doing so is what I feel is one of my major flaws as a story-teller.

How do you handle the side-kick in your novels?  Do you feel that character is important, and if so, what role do you see them playing?  Do you have any tips for me to get these people in my stories regularly?  It is definitely something I struggle with!

 


4 thoughts on “The Sidekick

  1. Interesting issue. I never seem to struggle with the sidekick. They always seem to come to me naturally. My main problem is relying on them too much. I suspect few men reveal as much to their buddies as my heroes do with theirs and I tend to make the sidekick too astute and helpful. Sometimes they make the hero look a bit dense. Another trouble with strong sidekicks is that they tend to introduce subplots that are a pain in the butt to resolve. In my current book, the heroine’s “sidekick” is the victim of attempted murder and now I have to figure out how to work in the clues to make the mystery part work. You’re right that sidekicks add depth and complexity to a story, but be careful what you wish for. Sooner or later you’ll end up with a sidekick who takes over the book!

    • That could be a problem, Mary! Since I’m so bad at putting them in in the first place, I’m not likely to have one take over the story. But I will have to be careful. Characters often come up with their own ideas!

  2. This is a great topic. I think about whether the best friend is necessary for the story. To me it depends on how much of a loner/independent type/ the main H/h characters are as well. It depend also on the herione’s job, family, living situation who is naturally in her circle. Then it arises organically but also serves to move the plot.

    • My heroines and heroes are always loners, which, if you think about it, is pretty unnatural. I’m pretty much a loaner, but even I have friends that I talk to regularly. 🙂 So trying to be better about making people more “normal” in my stories.

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