How to Write a Sidekick 101

Grab some popcorn, soda, and sour patch kids…or maybe raisinets? Okay, your candy of choice because this is a long one! 14 people submitted questions with two to three questions each! Like wow!!! So, this is like the longest post ever! You can just scan till you find your questions, but I totally recommend reading it all because they kind of all builds…lol…Have fun!!! Because I added in gifs to make it more fun…lol…

Here we go! *hands out popcorn* Don’t worry, Kayti’s paying for it *winks*. She did make me answer like a hundred questions…you’re good at writing Sidekicks *rolls eyes*.

Oh, and I wanted to say for those who aren’t writers MC stands for Main Character and SK (I think I just made that abbreviation up) stands for Sidekick. Enjoy!

How do you make a sidekick feel not totally cut off from the main hero, like definitely side sidekick? Rather, how do you make them have their share of the spotlight without taking too much from the hero, but still having enough for themselves?

Well, that’s one of the trickiest parts of writing sidekicks, making sure they don’t steal the spotlight. They have to be well developed themselves, such as backstories, humor, and anything your MC has needs to be established for the SK as well. But we don’t usually go into the SK’s head, he’s not usually the one with a problem to work out. At least, not as big a problem as the hero.

How do you write a sidekick as the main character?

I’m not the best person to answer this since I have never done that…but I recommend as people told me, to read Sherlock Holmes as it is written from Watson’s perspective, not Sherlock’s…so go read some books…lol…

Personal life. Why the sidekick and not the hero?

Generally, this is because the SK is not a leader, he’s more of a follower. (Which means my sisters and I would be SKs…lol…) They don’t feel confident or capable of leading and thus they are the SK…or the MC is overbearing, a shadow the SK lives in and refuses to face up to till a certain part in the story where they find the courage to tell the MC how it is and thus knock some sense into the MC and he saves the day, I like those stories…lol…

How to create a lovable sidekick that readers will cherish

What do you cherish about an SK? What makes you like them? What do fall in love with? Now turn around and use that in your own SK!

What are examples of traits a sidekick might have? / What qualities make up a good sidekick?

A sidekick might be loyal (think Samwise Gamgee from LotR), funny (think Pippin Took from LotR), smart (think Riley from National Treasure), brave (think Reepicheep from Narnia), or any other trait. They don’t have specific ones, but the ones mentioned above are the most commonly used and your SK can be a combo of any of the above traits! Such as funny and smart, loyal and brave, funny and loyal, brave and smart….or anything you want! Just like your MC!

How do you make your sidekicks super fun and amazing without making them more like shadows or people who get in the hero’s way? / How do you balance their positions as side characters with their individuality?

You have to think of them as their own being and not just a prop for the MC. When we think of them as nothing more than a tool to help the MC we lose out on the beauty of what an SK can be when fully developed. As for making them fun and amazing…well, think of something and write it down even if it’s corny or cheesy, leave it and roll with it. You can always make it better when you edit but don’t skip over the opportunity to make a joke because you can only think of cheesy lines. It might turn out that everyone really likes the scene you thought might be cheesy.

How do you keep them from being annoying or cliche?

First, let’s address cliché…there is nothing new under the sun. I personally, like cliché things…lol…I’m an old soul all cliches are old and thus it works out great for me…lol…but the main thing is to write the character in your head, you can worry about not being cliché later during editing.

As for being annoying, I have not met an SK who is not annoying to the MC, Emmet is annoying to Cruz in Explorer Academy, Much is annoying to Robin in BBC’s Robin Hood, and Sam is annoying to Frodo in LotR…etc. Etc…If the SK and MC got along all the time it’d be no fun…Now, the SK being annoying to the reader…this mainly happens when the SK is repeatedly getting in the way or saying things that everyone already knows. By having fully fleshed out SKs you can easily avoid both of these problems!

How to depict a sidekick who is a nerdy scientist and how to make it seem that they’re incredibly smart

Use long words and therefore you will assuredly sound one hundred times smarter than if you had simply used puny words. See how smart I sounded? Lol…I’d also recommend reading and watching smart SK, The Wars of the Realm Series by Chuck Black has a great science-smart SK named Ben, I love his character, so well done!

Also, as a side note smart characters don’t have to have glasses…just saying. That’s cliché and a bit overdone…sometimes glasses are nice, but not every time. Assuming that someone is smart because they have glasses is like assuming that because someone has braces they’re nerdy. It’s just not true…we have no control over whether we have braces or glasses…

How to depict a flirty but loyal side kick

Okay, first off…I’m not a romance writer, not a romance reader, never dated, never flirted, how do you flirt? Questions for my older sisters there…*ask Rissy who shrugs and says to ask our married sister*

So, all that to say I have no clue…I honestly write SK of the same gender as my MC…usually because they’re best friends…lol…I like that kind of SK. But I think, Grace A. Johnson might be able to help you with that one if you want to ask her! *Me screams “Grace, HELP!!!!”*

How to make them there for you just enough yet not always, and how to make them really matter to the reader other than just a sideline person.

Making them matter as more than a sideline person links back to developing them as their own person. They need backstory, likes, dislikes, and quirks just as much as the MC…for the first part of the question when I think of SK I think of someone who is always there…lol… So, I’m afraid I’m not very helpful…but hey, at least I’m honest and not just throwing out random unfounded advice…lol…

How to create them as complex characters, with their own ambitions, yet show how their actions aid/adhere to the hero.

I recommend filling out a character profile…that way you get a good grip on the SK, or you can do a Pinterest board which is way more fun in my humble opinion. So that will help with making them complex with their own ambitions…but they are the MC’s best friend. What would you do for your best friend? How would you help them? Take that info and use it for the SK…they’re not tools! I don’t know how much I need to stress this fact, they are characters with goals and ambitions…they can help the MC but they are not there for you to merely use when you feel like it…you need to build them. I hope that makes sense…lol…

How do you keep the sidekicks from becoming the hero without damaging their character?

If your SK has taken over and become the hero…you’re gonna have to damage him to get him back in his slot. There’s no way to work around that outside of making your SK the MC and your MC the SK…

Why are most sidekicks more likable and relatable than the main characters?

Sometimes the MC is too perfect or too flawed and thus we end up liking the SK more. Sometimes enough work isn’t put into making sure the MC shines brighter than the SK. To avoid this problem, you need to make sure your MC is relatable. Rissy will cover that more for you guys next week!

How to make them have an interesting dynamic with the main character

What makes your friendship with your best friend unique? What’s something you notice in the relationships you have with your siblings, cousins, etc. Turn around and use those traits when developing the relationship between your MC and SK. Honestly, they don’t have to have anything in common. They just need to share a bond over something, whether that’s the fact they both hate riding the bus, or they both almost died in the epidemic of 3097…

But the most important thing is to write them. Write their interactions…don’t make them get along all the time, that’d be boring. Create conflict, but nothing that’s going to spilt the friendship, or maybe you could *raises eyebrows*. Then once you have them written get feedback on it. Maybe write a scene and ask for feedback, see what people think. Ask questions, very specific questions!

How to keep the focus on the main character while still having a fully developed side character

Always make the MC’s problem bigger than the SK’s problem. Normally, we’re gonna be in the MC’s head…so even if his problem isn’t as big we’re gonna think it is till proven otherwise, the only time it’s okay to make the MC’s problems smaller is when you’re writing a self-centered MC. The SK is built to bring out the best in the MC to spur him on in the hardest moments, sometimes the MC likes that, other times not so much. But the point is…the story is never supposed to be focused on the SK.

So, if your story is becoming more about the SK…consider why? Then figure out a way to fix it…or maybe reverse the character roles…

How to make your sidekick cool but not more interesting than the hero

Well, first off…SK needs a backstory, that being said…nobody but you are usually going to see that backstory. That’s for you to build his personality. We only get access to the SK backstory when it is related to helping the MC or some other story situation. Unlike the MC whom we get to venture into his thoughts and histories and learn everything…the readers aren’t going to get that with the SK, unless it’s absolutely, vitally, necessary.

Also, you don’t have to make the hero better at everything. Each character should have their strengths. It’s learning to balance when the SK should shine and when not…and I think somewhere in this mess of a post I’ve probably detailed it somewhere…lol…

Types of supporting talents/qualities the sidekick can/should have.

This really depends on what type of story you’re writing. If you’re writing a contemporary an SK with sword skills would be pretty useless, and if you’re writing a fantasy an SK who knows everything under the sun about food but can’t wield a weapon is useless (albeit it comical). So, pick talents and skills that compliment your genre and what your specific MC needs.

What do you do when the sidekick starts stealing the show?

Embrace it…no just kidding…lol…rein back on the SK, figure out why he’s stealing the show. Why do you like writing him more? What makes him relatable? What could make your MC easier to write? It’s a delicate balance…but you need to make sure your MC has enough flaws and development to carry him through the story at the lead.

Why we need them, how to break stereotypes

Everyone needs someone…it’s no good to die alone. Solo: A Star Wars Story…We all need someone; humans were created by God to need each other so the SK is basically a given. Sure, your MC could go on his quest alone but…no offense that’s going to be a lame trip with no one to talk to or break up the silence or get him in or out of sticky situations.

There are tons of stereotypes…I can’t go into them all…but as for breaking a stereotype…the surest way to do this is to pick a stereotype you either like or don’t like and flip it. Do the exact opposite of what is usually done with it. Smart guy has glasses and is bad at sports, drop the glasses and make him a killer football player and also a tech genius. We don’t have to be one thing only. We’re not either jocks or smarts…we can be both, so go write someone as both and break the stereotypical mold!

Character development and making them seem like a trustworthy companion to the hero.

Loyalty plays a large role in this one. Showing the SK sticking with the MC during something tough (in fantasy nine times out of ten this is the MC’s parents’ death, evil uncle, aunt, or stepparent, or a battle…please find something else!).

Most of the time showing the SK making the MC laugh is enough to make me love them, I just love me a good comedian! But for some people they need to see the SK forged in fire, as it would be…they want to see them stick through something tough like a car chase, a meteor, a plague that ravages the entire kingdom…(literally anything but the ones I mentioned in the first note.). Or maybe it’s simply helping the MC off the curb after a bully almost runs them over…we want to see the compassion the SK has…make us love him or her!

Conclusion

Probably thought I was never going to get here, didn’t you? Wow! That was a lot of questions…and I only backed out of answering one! *fist pump* Thank you guys so much for the awesome questions!!! Let’s continue this conversation in the comments and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss next week’s post!

How to write a Hero 101!!! (WHat does 101 stand for? Anyone know? Man I need to google that….lol…)

Also, we hit 100 SUBSCRIBERS!!!!!! WOO-HOO!!!!! (Technically we’re at 105 now…but whatever.) So in honor of the occasion, we’re launching a newsletter! Once a month we’ll send out writing updates, a word of encouragement, art *jumps up and down excitedly*, tips, some random stuff, and anything God lays on our hearts for the monthly letter! You can sign-up by clicking the link below! And we’ll send our first newsletter out about mid-July, Lord willing.

Till next time!

Jaidie the Dragon Nerd

Published by Jaidie

Ello everyone, my name is Jaiden Phillips but I like being called Jaidie because it sounds fun! I love music, movies, rainbows, chocolate of any kind, and BOOKS, of course! I also love dogs, horses, any kind of big cat, foxes, bunnies, and dragons. I love, like love DRAGONS if they were real I'd so have one! I like to pass the time listening to music, writing, reading, drawing, I love drawing! Especially dragons and bunnies. I also like goofing off and talking non-stop to my sisters about the books I'm reading. Yeah, that's all I have to say about myself so bye!

9 thoughts on “How to Write a Sidekick 101

  1. You rang? Tips for writing a flirty sidekick, you say? Whoever asked that question, I’m up for giving advice! OH! And I have lots of experience with writing the sidekick as the MC, so I’d love to help out with that one too! 😀

    And, Jaidie, your answers were all awesome! Those were a LOT of great questions! XD And I just subscribed to the newsletter!!!! SO excited! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha, yes! (Sorry, this comment is so late…been busy with top secret art projects..haha) Awesome! Grace has answers guys!!!

      Thank you soooo much!!!! Hahaha, yes indeed! Thank you so very much!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “You have to think of them as their own being and not just a prop for the MC. When we think of them as nothing more than a tool to help the MC we lose out on the beauty of what an SK can be when fully developed.” AMEN GIRL. That was perfectly phrased. Haha yes, smart SKs don’t always have to have glasses. 😂 And such a good point about always making the MC’s problem bigger than the SK’s problem. Lol, sometimes I get carried away with the sidekicks in my stories and so I’ve got to keep that in mind.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer everyone’e questions, Jaidie!!! ❤ I so enjoyed reading it 😉 and I can't wait for next week's post and EEE CONGRATULATIONS ON 105 SUBSCRIBERS!!! *runs off to sign up for the newsletter*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eeek, Glad you enjoyed the post!!! Hahaha, yeah, the stereotypes for things are so outdated…we really need to make sure we break them. Same! Sidekicks are so fun! But I have to remember the story is not about them…

      Of course, my pleasure! Yay, glad to hear that!!! Thank you so much!!!! Eeek!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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