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The Significance of the Sidekick.

August 2, 2012

Hello kids and kittens!

Today just a short ramble on the Sidekick. That most trusted companion to the protagonist. You see them in literature all over the place: Doctor Watson, Tonto, Wendell Reed, Detective Sergeant Lewis, Sancho Panza, Sally Kimbal, Samwise Gamgee and Hermione Granger. To name a few. They are of course the companion/sidekicks to: Sherlock Holmes, The Lone Ranger, Ryker Mayson, Inspector Morse, Don Quiote, Encyclopedia Brown, Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter (respectively.)

Why do we need them? What purpose do they serve in our writing?

They take on jobs in  the story that the Protagonist is too busy, disinclined or incapable of doing.

They are a narrator at times, take Doctor Watson for example. It is supposedly his write-ups that tell us the tales of Sherlock. They can fill in a missing attribute from the main character, expand the reader’s experience by presenting another point of view or help us cope with a flawed protagonist as Sancho Panza does. They provide extra insight to the problem(s) facing the Protagonist like Sally Kimbal or Hermione Granger or DS Lewis. They balance the odds (Tonto, Wendell) or carry it for a time (Samwise.)

As a writing tool, the sidekick gives the Protagonist someone to converse with and thereby inform the reader. They can discuss the recent events, bring up the past, plot the future. Without a decent sidekick, both the writer and protagonist are forced to figure out how best to give exposition without just rambling on and on about it to the reader, possibly breaking the mood and setting of the piece.

Personally I like sidekicks who are independent, they join the protagonist because they want to (well sort of…  I mean obviously the author has put them there.) They shore up the protagonist’s weak areas, hold conversations at peer levels and can come up with solutions that are at times better than the protagonist’s.

On the other hand, a really flawed gem of a protagonist needs a stabilizing sidekick. Watson, Gamgee I’m looking at you. Their protagonists would ultimately fail at some point without the steadfast loyalty of the sidekick. Would Frodo have succeeded at destroying the ring without Samwise? It seems unlikely.

Even to my own writing, I tend to put characters in place to assist the Protagonist, as well as the Antagonist. Less talking to themselves, dontcha you know.

I drew several sidekicks from this page, which listed quite a number of the ones I picked out, added a few I did not think of, and has more to check out. An interesting sidebar to read if you get the chance.

— Status update.

Gah! Not sure how I missed this one. My Fantasy tale ‘The Fall of Akui, Part 1’ was published on QuantumMuse.com yesterday. Please take a minute and drop by for some Samurai/Cat action!

I have finished the draft of ‘A Dirigible Disaster’. I just need to edit Chapter 5 and the epilogue. I missed a prior goal of sketching/inking the cover for ‘A Chemical Confusion’, which I am ok with because it needs to be reviewed/edited (Anyone interested in helping out, please drop me a line!) I started a new project which is being told in the 1st person voice. Not quite sure how that’ll turn out, but we’ll see. Lastly, this weekend I will probably start preparing for the next  Ignatius St. Eligius story: ‘Automaton Anarchy.’

Thank you for dropping by and reading!

Steve.

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From → Writing

2 Comments
  1. I like using my sidekicks as people to help keep the main character in check. Sometimes the main character can be a little too flawed, and want to cause some serious damage; and that’s where the sidekick steps in to talk the protagonist out of it.

    • Excellent point. I think Dr. Watson would be a good example of doing that. The modern Sherlock from BBC/Stephen Moffat and the recent movies specifically.

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