by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan
Laverne & Shirley. Lucy & Ethel. Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson. Batman & Robin. Shaggy & Scooby. SpongeBob& Patrick. Shrek & Donkey. Frodo & Sam.Monica & Rachel. Lorelai & Sookie.
Depending on your age, these names may sound familiar, but what do they have in common?
Main characters need those strong friends to come alongside them in their stories and act as Voices of Truth or help them to see reason. Sidekicks have that skill as well as providing information to the main character or just plain watching the other’s back. Additionally, sidekicks help to draw out the main characters to allow the reader to be exposed to other facets of their personalities that may not have developed fully without those friendships.
In addition to being a Voice of Truth, a good sidekick can:
- Act as comic relief. Nothing like a dose of laughter to lighten the mood in an intense scene.
- Bring out strong qualities in main characters, even if that main character doesn’t feel so strong at a specific moment.
- Help the main characters stay grounded…going back to that Voice of Reason role.
- Add tension to a scene, especially if the character and sidekick have opposing views about a decision that needs to be made.
In my novels, my main characters’ sidekicks have used their wits and wisdom to offer gentle (or not so gentle) truth to my hero and heroine. My main characters haven’t always liked what their friends have had to say, but they did stop to listen because they trusted one another. Having a sidekick means investing in a relationship and building trust so when the sidekick becomes a Voice of Truth, it’s a little easier to hear.
Oh, and by the way, sidekicks don’t necessarily have to be human. Including pets in your stories won’t give your characters a verbal Voice of Truth, but their interaction will help to show different sides of the characters’ personalities to the reader.
If your main character doesn’t have a sidekick, consider adding one. Take a moment to think about your story and your main characters. Who does your main character pal around with most? What does this sidekick contribute to the relationship? A true sidekick knows her unspoken duties—check to make sure there isn’t any toilet paper stuck to the other person’s shoe…or worse, tell the truth about that new outfit, be honest (in love, of course) about that possible dream guy or even share truth (again in love) about negative choices when hearing it could cause a rift in the relationship.
Sidekick relationships are essential to complement the main character. So when you create character sidekicks, remember the main traits of a sidekick—truth, loyalty and trust. You may be surprised to learn your character’s sidekick has his or her own story to tell.
Several years ago, I wrote Lakeside Family and introduced Agnes as a sidekick for my main character Josie. The more I got to know Agnes, I realized she had her own story to tell, and that’s how she became the heroine in Lakeside Sweethearts.
So, the next time you’re creating a story and you’re struggling with bringing your main characters to life on the page, consider adding in a sidekick to help them develop and grow through the story. Like real life friendships, those sidekicks can add uniqueness and bring out qualities in your characters you wouldn’t have had discovered on your own.
Heart, home and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. She is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa also serves on the My Book Therapy leadership team. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, crafting with friends and binging on Netflix. Learn more about her at lisajordanbooks.com.