Dr. Watson, I Presume? The Importance of Killer Sidekicks

A brilliant post by author Susan Spann on the importance of secondary characters.

Writers In The Storm Blog

by Susan Spann, @SusanSpann

Sherlock Holmes, mystery, writingWhether you write detective fiction, romance, historical novels or fantasy epics, a lone protagonist never receives as great a reaction as one with a well-developed supporting cast.

Foils serve to reinforce and highlight the hero’s good (and bad) characteristics, and also give the protagonist a chance to shine outside the primary narrative.

Although a “sidekick” isn’t mandatory, a strong secondary character improves many stories in several important ways:

1. Introducing an Alternate Point of View.

Sidekicks rarely agree with everything the protagonist does, and often have a radically different worldview. This gives the author a chance to present alternative theories, new opinions, and thoughts that the protagonist or hero might not propose on his (or her) own.

A sidekick proves especially effective where the sidekick has a different gender, religion, or race than the protagonist. In addition to adding great diversity to your fiction (and forcing…

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1 Comment

  1. I think that sidekicks bring the valuable component of giving the main character someone to talk to. Information is always more interesting when it comes in the form of a conversation. Humans are social beings, and those conversations are inherently fascinating.

    I think her point about alternative ideas and explanations is right on, too.

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