Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sidekicks

In high school and college, I did a lot of theater, usually onstage as an actress, but sometimes as a director. My favorite spot for action, whether acting or directing, often occurred in the "Sidekick" or supporting roles. Sometimes Sidekicks hold more promise for a fully-developed character than the main heroine or hero, at the risk of stealing the show if the director isn't careful. Sidekicks provide humor and oomph! and act as a rudder for many a troubled or lovesick lead.

In Lord of the Rings, for example, I prefer Sam over Frodo, who is more passive, more deterministic, and less engaging as a character. Sam, on the other hand, demonstrates a positive dynamism, shows appreciation for both the dark and sunny sides of life, and generally exhibits the full range of regular human emotions that we, as readers, like to see in stories. Sam is like the Holy Spirit who prods us as Believers to stay the course--infusing us with steady strength and sound counsel in the face of evil.

That being said, I do not want Wendy, the Sidekick in my current work in progress (WIP), to steal the limelight from the protagonist, Meghan. In the early stages of the plot development, Wendy inserted herself, adding vibrancy and contrast to Meghan. Wendy spits out all the witty lines and does quirky things, reminding Meghan to keep a light heart. I briefly considered letting Wendy be the protagonist, but the story loses something. Frankly, it's Meghan's story that I'm exploring--not Wendy's. It's challenging to reign Wendy in, but necessary. I don't want to tone her down, so perhaps I just need to elevate Meghan--help her find an distinct, authentic voice. While I love Wendy, Meghan is really at the core of this journey. I guess I need to take some quiet walks with Meghan and listen to her heart.

How do you paint your sidekicks? Do you have unwieldy ones in your story?

3 comments:

  1. I love playing sidekicks--I played Nerissa in the Merchant of Venice and had a wonderful time mocking all Portia's suitors and hamming it up in the background with Gratiano.
    My novel has several supporting characters, but only one could be accused of being a sidekick. Tristin, a dear friend of the hero, says what he thinks, cracks jokes, tells tall tales, and being a twenty-something male does rather foolhardy things and gets away with them. He's not the foil Riley, in National Treasure, is, but more the independent person who lends his support to the hero and the story because he wants to. Tristin could easily be a dynamic hero to his own novel.

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  2. Aw, yeah, Riley makes a great sidekick. I don't remember the actor's name, but he did a fantastic job doing the sidekick in Sahara as well (Frankly, I thought he was the most interesting character in the whole movie).

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  3. Riley is an OK sidekick ;-) _AL_ in Sahara is a great sidekick.

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