by Kaye George
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What exactly IS a sidekick? He’s not a partner. The main character is the obvious number one star. The sidekick is…less so. They exist across lots of genres, as seen by the examples that popped up for me right away when I started thinking about them.
They are not antagonists. Those are people who are working against the main character. A sidekick is on his side, obviously. At his side and on his side.
My best answer is that they are helpers. They assist the main character, either by noticing something the main character has overlooked or thinking up solutions that haven’t occurred to the MC. And always supporting the MC, of course.
Why do so many heroes and main characters have sidekicks anyway? Aside from the stuff in the paragraph I just wrote. It’s not random. As a writer, I can use them for my own devices. They could have access to information that the MC couldn’t have access to. That helps my plot along, helps with the solution.
They can also help me convey my information to you, the reader. They do this in conversation a lot. The MC and SK can talk something out and I, the writer, can reveal things to you that would be awkward otherwise. Of course, the MC can puzzle things out in their head and come up with the some information by thinking about it, but I think dialog is more interesting on the page than internal thoughts. I like to use internal thoughts, but don’t want too many of them—I don’t want all of my detective’s thinking revealed to you that way.
What are the qualifications for a sidekick? It has to be someone who would naturally be associating with the sleuth. A friend, coworker, relative, even a pet. It also has to be someone who won’t overshadow the sleuth, won’t take over the story. The SK needs to remain the SK. But, I like that person to be an interesting character, nonetheless, not someone boring or bland. They have to be different from the MC in some sort of interesting way.
Chewbacca is a Wookiee while Han Solo is a regular human. Roy Rogers rides his horse Trigger and Pat Brady drives his jeep Nellybelle. Watson’s occupation as a doctor is very different from Holmes’s as a professional detective. And Robin isn’t even an adult and can’t spin webs like Batman.
You know what? Mystery writers kind of have sidekicks, too. I have a regular group of fellow authors I can go to with questions I’m having on characters, plot, and titles; just about anything a sidekick would give me help with. I couldn’t do without my writer friends! They have also helped me through this pandemic with my sanity relatively intact. Thanks for being there, Janet Bolin, Peg Cochran, Krista Davis, Daryl Wood Gerber, Janet Koch, and Marilyn Levinson.
Do you like to encounter interesting sidekicks?
Who are your favorites?
Do you have friends who have helped you get through the pandemic?
I hope so.
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