Episode 98: Sidekick, Battle buddy, best mate

On June 6, 2020, Kasie and Rex took on the topic of Sidekicks, bet friends, and battle buddies. Here are the show notes:

Theme for the day

The Lancer: Battle Buddy, Sidekick, Best Mate

Agenda

  • Patreon is how you say you Love.This.Show.
  • What is the Lancer?
  • Why do heroes (protagonists of all sizes) need a best friend?
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the Sidekick character
  • How is a sidekick different from a normal secondary character
Photo by ws didin on Pexels.com

Link to the podcast

Segment 1

So we’re officially into our June Patreon membership drive and we’re offering a special deal! Become a Patron in June and get the critique, the 30-minute Zoom chat, the story, and the author interview on our website.

Our patrons also get behind the scenes content and access to our course, Short Story Basics for free. So there’s that.

This week’s topic is The Lancer — the sidekick, the battle buddy, the best friend. They lead you astray, are a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes steal your girl. Looking at you, Lancelot.

Sidekicks can be:

  • Counterpoint to the hero
  • An alternate point of view
  • In possession of knowledge the hero doesn’t have
  • Comic relief (the clown) or the straight man to the hero’s antics

Here’s an entire list of sidekicks in literature courtesy of Wikipedia. Among the more famous:

  • Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet)
  • Horatio (Hamlet)
  • Samwise Samgee (Lord of the Rings)
  • Little John (Robin Hood)
  • Dr. Watson (Sherlock Holmes)
  • Ron Weasley (Harry Potter)

Weird how this whole list is men? Are there some good girl sidekicks? (some appear on this list) (and there’s some rebuke as to whether they belong in women’s fiction here)

  • Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
  • Lady MacBeth (would we call her a sidekick? Or an Iago?)
  • George and Bess from the Nancy Drew series, they are both girls, and they are complete opposites
  • Tinkerbell (Peter Pan)

And don’t forget animal sidekicks (more here):

  • Snoopy
  • Hobbes
  • Pegasus
  • Hedwig (Harry Potter)
  • Crookshanks (Harry Potter)
  • Faithful (Alanna’s cat in the Song of the Lioness series — this link)
  • Gabriel to Xena

Segment 2

Strengths and weaknesses of the sidekick — do they have to mirror the hero? Be weak where he’s strong, strong where he’s weak? (a list of evaluated sidekicks here) (more wikipedia here)

Strengths:

  • Help the hero do something he or she couldn’t do if the sidekick weren’t there
  • Rescue the hero in a tight situation
  • Provide a foil to the hero — intentionally show us what the hero is not
  • Show a soft spot for the hero — loyalty, compassion, or even love

Weaknesses:

  • Can be the obvious source of the things above
  • Is in a position to really hurt the hero
  • Same gender as the hero can be an echo chamber effect
  • Villains don’t normally have them, those supporters are goons or minions
  • Age — the teenaged ward, or the elderly butler (Batman never befriends people his own age)

How the sidekick shows value:

  • Be a witness to the hero’s struggle and triumph
  • Go for help!
  • Tell the hero when s/he’s wrong
  • Help the hero see nuance, detail, or subtext

Segment 3

The difference between a sidekick and a side character:

  • Persistent, consistent, and fulfilling multiple roles
  • Has history with the hero, exposition — the case of Ron and Hermione is great because the history is instantaneous

Stock Side Characters that might also be sidekicks:

  • The sassy co-worker (just saw this in A Beginner’s Guide to Freefall)
  • The military buddy / battle buddy (saw this in The Hashtag Hunt)
  • Former teammate / bandmate someone with whom the hero has history
  • Sister / brother
  • Mentor, teacher 

Give your sidekick purpose (this link) Don’t treat them as side characters if you want them to be sidekicks, five them more than one job. Let them:

  • Aid in the cause
  • Serve as encouragement
  • Create secondary tension
  • Confront the hero
  • Deepen the story world — enhance the hero’s world with expositional details, insight into what’s happening now

Breaking the traditions of sidekicks (this link)

  • Same gender
  • Never a love interest 
  • Sidekick who betrays the hero (Lancelot)
  • Becomes a co-protagonist (like A Beginner’s Guide to Freefall)
  • Older or younger
  • Keeps the hero likeable
  • Dies in the line of duty

Segment 4

News in the Write On SC #writerverse:

The South Carolina Writers Association has published its member anthology, Catfish Stew, with poetry, fiction, and more. Buy it here.

The Petigru Review, online journal produced by the SCWA but open to writers anywhere, is now accepting submissions. Visit Submittable to get in on that.

Every Tuesday this summer, SCWA is hosting the Summer Series Tuesday writing chats. Click here to register and we’ll send you the Zoom link. This week’s topic is Great Beginnings.

June 27, 2020 is the first Member Pro workshop led by Barbara Evers of the Greenville chapter. It starts at 10:30 a.m. and is on Zoom. Click here to register for that.

Want to learn more about Short Story Basics? Click here to get the class.

Ready to support Write On SC? Go to Patreon.com/WriteOnSC to become a patron!

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