Monday, May 26, 2008


What would Lucy Ricardo be without Ethel? Think of all your comedy favorites, and then name their sidekick. Let's face it, every setup is so much more fun with a duo. If you haven't guessed by now, Ethel is my all-time favorite sidekick.

That's what I worked on all last week--developing my heroine's sidekick. Originally I didn't have one, and I kept feeling like something important was missing from my newest romantic comedy. Thankfully I was less than 100 pages in before coming to this realization.

Here are my random thoughts on what a good sidekick does, and this is by no means an exhaustive list:

*A good sidekick shows the main character what they can't see about themselves through actions and dialogue. I think this works especially well if they have opposite personalities. Also, a good SK will tell it like she sees it. Think about it: Lucy always has a plan and is gung-ho. Ethel, on the other hand, is cautious and looks ahead to the consequences.

*A good sidekick adds to the conflict, or helps the heroine solve the conflict. Often, they are a partner in crime. Ethel may try to stay away from Lucy's plans, but in the end she's right there next to her.

*A good sidekick will help the main character see the motivations of others. This is especially important in first person books where the heroine can't know or see everything for herself. Many times this will be revealed in sounding board scenes. In my books they have a tendency to be in shopping or eating scenes.

*A good sidekick rounds out the main character. They don't upstage, but they are the proverbial wind beneath the MC's wings.

I love the sidekicks I've created thus far. In Table for One, the sidekick is level-headed Dinah who tells Lucy (heroine) to quit being paranoid. Lucy then responds, "Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean people aren't out to get me." It's all about helping the heroine get real about herself and life. Hopefully my new SK will live up to her predecessors.

Tell me about your favorite sidekicks--either TV/movie/book, or your own!


Kara Lynn Russell said...

this a great article that will make me think a little before developing the characters for my next work. I loved Fran's sidekick Val in "The Nanny" and Sean's sidekick Gus in "Psyche." The Disney channel is often on at our house and I think Disney has developed some great sidekicks on their shows for teens such as Lily in "Hannah Montana" and Chelsea in "That's So Raven."

Nicola said...

Excellent article, Georgiana...and the sidekicks in Table for One really are great!

Sarita Leone said...

What a fun post! Now I'm thinking of all the sidekicks I love, even those in real life!

Off to call a sidekick right now...

Cindy K. Green said...

Oh yes sidekicks are so important in our stories, and they are so fun to write too. Recently, I read Jane Richardson's A Different Kind of Honesty. The best friend to the heroine was a fellow officer, Danny Chang. He was eccentric and quirky but not so much that he was annoying. Very well done. In recent tv viewing, I really love the new BBC Robin Hood and Sam Troughton who plays Much is the perfect side kick to Jonas Armstrong's Robin Hood. Loyal to a fault and the comic relief of the cast.