Sidekick characters can breath life into a story and set your protagonist up for success. But in order to do that, you have to make sure you’re using your sidekick characters to their fullest potential.
However, if you include a sidekick, make sure your sidekick has a clear stake in the outcome of whatever problem your protagonist faces. Next, make sure they have a clear reason to trust and follow your protagonist. Also make sure they have their own backstory, even if not all of it is mentioned. Finally, make sure your sidekick has some effect on the outcome of the story. Whether they’re the ones who figure out one of the mysterious riddles or the ones who save the protagonist at a difficult moment, they need to have a role in the outcome in order to justify their presence.
So, once you know your sidekick is necessary, here are a few ways to make sure you’re using them to the fullest.
Use sidekicks as ways to get information across that the protagonist knows but the reader doesn’t. Maybe there’s a tricky piece of backstory you want to include or some piece of information that the reader will need to know later on. Sidekicks make the perfect sounding block.
2.) Comic Relief
While I’m sure we all wish our main characters were witty all the time, sometimes that role needs to fall to the sidekick. Give them opinions and help them lighten things up.
3.) Hope for the Hopeless
Sidekicks are there in the tough times. They can be the ones to give the protagonist the information or encouragement they need to go on when everything seems ruined.
4.) Access to Information Protagonists Don’t Have
Maybe your protagonist works somewhere where they’ll overhear a key piece of information the protagonist will need. Or maybe they’re off researching someone’s criminal history while the protagonist is off getting into trouble. Whatever it is, sidekicks can be a means of gaining access to information that the protagonist wouldn’t have been able to obtain on their own.
5.) The Company You Keep
Remember that who your protagonist chooses to spend time with says a lot about them as a person. Consider that when you’re creating your sidekick. They also need to balance each other well and have different strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to write a good protagonist, look at the influences in your own lives. Who has picked you up when you were down? Who’s joked with you when things were tough? What characteristics do those people have in common? Take them and meld them into one solid character who nicely compliments the characteristics your protagonist holds dear. You can also watch movies/read books with some of your favorite protagonists. Model your character after them.
Do you have a favorite protagonist? Let me know in the comments!