on Fiction University:
A great sidekick can add a lot to a novel. Bethany Henry shares tips on how to craft a sidekick that enhances your story without stealing the show.
Of course we all love and need heroes. But sidekicks can be just as important.
After all, Batman has Robin. Sherlock has Dr. Watson. And where would Frodo be without his Sam?
“Frodo: You’ve left out one of the chief characters–Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam.”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
Every hero needs their sidekick. Despite not being the center of the story, sidekicks have a vital role that cannot be filled by the hero.
For instance, sidekicks can do things the hero can’t.
A sidekick has the freedom to disappear from the story for more than a few chapters as needed, be extremely incompetent or unlikable, or provide a different perspective to contrast with the hero. Sidekicks can be funny and lighten the mood when the hero is down.
Because sidekicks don’t need to carry the weight of a story’s plot, it gives them more flexibility.
Sidekicks can add a huge amount of depth and power to a story. As we create and evaluate our own sidekicks, here are some quick dos and don’ts to keep in mind.