Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Sidekicks' Lounge

I’m a big fan of the sidekick as a character. Then again, I always liked Robin better as a child. As an adult, of course, I flipped like a pancake about the time they started making the movies. What is it about that black, Batman mask?


What is it about the insignificant, filler characters that captivates me? I can’t tell you. But I do know that as I write a book, there will almost always be one that gets under my skin—a character that just popped into a scene as a necessity and wasn’t in the original cast, a character that was supposed to just have a cameo, but ends up demanding a sub-plot, a character that just developed too large a personality to remain on the sidelines. This character, this unexpected rebel, is almost always my favorite.

Yes. I do pick favorites.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my heroes. I mean, my stories usually start with a couple of characters, so I figure I owe them a lot of attention. Still, while my protagonist may be my main squeeze, I can’t help but sneak off for a little side-action with a side-kick from time to time.

Don’t judge me.

The joy of the sidekick, I think, is the surprise. You have a plot to deal with when working with your protagonist, you have a place to go and a good idea how you intend to get there. Predictability can kill a relationship, as you know, and the hero in your story has a pre-made agenda.

Not so the quirky, spontaneous minor character. This little devil can take you for a ride, or a tangent, at whim. The insignificant filler character can develop a sudden passion for strange hats. They can learn to yodel. They can get drunk and go streaking through your primary setting without any major plot-line revision required. The sidekick is fun at parties. For a good time call…

You get my drift.

I think, as a reader, I feel the same way about characters. I like the protagonist, especially the heroine, to remain somewhat dignified. I mean, I relate to that character. I empathize with her. I don’t want her doing anything that might embarrass us. But with a minor player….all bets are off. Thank heavens for diversity.

Is there a quirky minor character that you love? Who is your favorite sidekick?
Cast-ing off,


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