If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

THE IMPORTANCE OF SIDEKICKS







Almost all the main characters in fictional books, movies or TV shows have at least one sidekick or friend and sometimes more. Dating myself a little here, think the Lone Ranger and Tonto or Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes in the old movies. In books there is Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, an iconic duo. Sometimes the sidekick can be funny like the clueless Barney Fife to Sheriff Andy Taylor common in TV sitcoms. Or it can be turned around a bit. In P.G. Wodehouse books, Bertie Wooster is the silly one while his butler Jeeves is the intelligent one who always saves Bertie. Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey is highly intelligent, but puts on a lighthearted and comedic front, while Bunter is not only devoted to him, but intelligent and helpful.

     

 More current books follow the main character/sidekick theme, too. Elizabeth George's Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley has Barbara Havers, his polar opposite, as well as others who often work with him. Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs works with Billy Beale. Both are survivors of WWI. Sometimes the sidekick can be a significant other. Jane Langton's detective Homer Kelly is often helped and toned down a little when needed by his wife Mary. Katherine Hall Page's Faith Fairchild has family and friends, but her chief confidant is her husband Rev. Thomas Fairchild. Louise Penny's  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has Jean Guy Beauvoir, but he also has his wife Reine-Marie.

Sidekicks or secondary characters are important because few books are interesting with only one main character unless it's a memoir or something similar like Walden by Henry David Thoreau, which was published in 1854 and still widely read. I have Wild by Cheryl Strayed in my TBR pile. She wrote of her 1100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail which was mostly alone.
               

Dialog is important in a book to break up long sections of description or even action. Along with section breaks, it’s referred to as white space which breaks up long paragraphs and is more appealing to readers than pages of solid print. Also, it helps if the main character is able to bounce ideas off someone he or she trusts rather than just thinking about the problem confronted. And, in my opinion, a book is more interesting with good secondary characters close to the main character whether they’re a comic secondary character or a serious one.


Who are your favorite sidekicks and why?

13 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

There are so many different roles a sidekick can undertake and some, like shape shifters, assume different roles depending on the story’s needs. Paddy (or Patrick as he’d prefer to be known) periodically performs the role of sidekick for Seamus McCree. At times he is gatekeeper, mentor, provider of magic, prodder of action and brake against untimely action.

My favorite sidekick might depend on what I read most recently. Two who have withstood the test of time are Hawk to Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and Sloan to John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

I really like Paddy, Jim, and the good relationship Seamus and his son have. Because I'm currently reading - in addition to several other books including your excellent BAD POLICY - one of Jacqueline Winspear's books, I must say I like Billy Beale, but I also like George's Barbara Havers, too.

Alyx Morgan said...

I haven't read too many books with sidekicks in them, which is odd, since my series DOES have one.

If I had to stretch my knowledge of what I read, I'd have to say my favorite sidekick is Mary Russell's sidekick, Sherlock Holmes, in Laurie King's series.

Gloria Alden said...

I love the two of them, too, Alyx. I'm not sure if Mary Russell is the sidekick or Sherlock Holmes is as you say. I still haven't read her latest one although I have it on my shelf.

Anonymous said...

I use a side kick sometimes. He is a guy, different from me, an ex-cop and an investigator the Public Defender's Office uses sometimes. He gets to say the im-politic things I don't want my protagonist to use and he's not always polite. My favorite sidekick is Abe Glitzkey of Dismas Hardy in John Lescroart's series of legal thrillers. I love Stephanie Plum but get a little annoyed at her sidekick, Lula because she is a little stereotypical black fat girl. I like the differences in sidekick personalities, but no matter how comical the side kick is supposed to be, the comedy must come from a real place not forced into slapstick. But I love the Stooges. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Above comment from Gupppie Laura H.

Gloria Alden said...

Laura, I agree with you on comedy that must come from a real place and not forced into slapstick. There's a real trick to writing comedy, and not too many writers have it. Because I know it's not my strong suit, so that's why the humor in my books is light hearted and more subtle.

E. B. Davis said...

I love sidekicks. In the Chet and Bernie mystery series, Bernie, the human is actually Chet, the dog's sidekick. Bernie is really bad with money. "Oh, Bernie." Gives a big dog sigh.

In the last Evanovich adventure, I was glad to see that Stephanie was cooling off on her sidekick, Lula, who is over-the-top. Good there was a character change.

I'm reading the Inspector Barnaby series now, by Caroline Graham. His sidekick Troy is a pain, but Barnaby catches him being petty and self-centered and makes him pay. I love that.

Gloria Alden said...

E.B., I've not heard of the Chet and Bernie mysteries, nor the Inspector Barnaby series. They sound like something I'd like to read someday.

E. B. Davis said...

Spencer Quinn is the author of the Chet and Bernie series--you must try it. Evidently, I'm late on the uptake with Detective Barnaby. The BBC already made a series of the book series. It's quite popular in England, although I've never seen them. Usually I'm disappointed by films made from books. But then again, the BBC does some quality work. You can download both series from the library or just check them out.

KM said...

Sidekicks and other secondary characters certainly add to the rich fabric of a story. And if you're writing a series, you can build on a familiar set of characters and settings, and I think readers will look forward to them. Of course, you do have to include enough intro & background that each book can stand independently. Nick & Nora are the ones who come to mind for me, although I would be hard pressed to say who was the sidekick there! They are equally important.

Polly Iyer said...

What about Harlan Coben's psycho sidekick, Win? Robert Crais wrote such a good sidekick, Joe Pike, that now he's a leading character, and a mighty fine one.

I'm a big fan of secondary characters. I take as much care with my secondary characters as with my main ones. In many books, it's the secondary characters who set the book apart from the ordinary.

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. I wrote those writers down. I need to go to the library today to pick up a book for my 2nd book club this week.

KM, I agree with you about how secondary characters add to the rich fabric of a story. They are especially important in series. I thought of Nick and Nora, too, but didn't want my blog to run on forever.

Polly, you are right to take much care with your secondary characters. As you say, it's the secondary characters, who set these characters apart from the ordinary. I see that in the Louise Penny and Elizabeth George books especially.