A Promise for Sidekicks

The literary world is full of sidekicks — Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, Stephanie Plum and Lula, Linus and his blanket.

So are movies — Thelma and Louise, R2D2 and C3PO, the Karate Kid and his actual side kick.

So are meals. After all, what’s the point of mashed potatoes without gravy? Bagels without cream cheese? Cheesecake without strawberries? Orange jello without grated carrots?

I never said all sidekicks were good.

We have sidekicks in our real lives, too. Spouses, significant others, kids, siblings, BFFs, business partners, cubicle mates, roommates, critique partners, beta readers, pets.

Nala for Marshmallow Mayhem
Nala’s sidekick is this red pillow.

Everyone brings their unique angle to the relationship. And don’t forget that nobody thinks they are the sidekick — everyone is the hero of their own story. Some are equal relationships, others might tilt weekly or even hourly in favor of one or the other depending on a million different negotiations, verbalized or not. (But in the case of pets, the sidekick is always the one without opposable thumbs.)

As a writer, I depend on all these types of sidekicks, real and imaginary. The real people keep me moving forward, helping with my manuscripts or my psyche, calming, cajoling or kicking me, whichever I might need at that moment.

The imaginary people help creatively. They populate and drive my stories, often doing things that surprise and delight me … and sometimes confound me, spinning me off in a scary new direction.

But then there’s a group of sidekicks in that nebulous world between real and imaginary. I call them My Readers. I feel their presence almost more than I do my real-life sidekicks because they’re always hovering on my periphery. They never go to school or work, they don’t sleep, they don’t disappear while on a ski trip or a Netflix eight-season binge. I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how to get My Readers to fall in love with my characters. How can I pull them into this plot with me? How can I get them to laugh, or gasp, or cry, or keep turning pages?

My Reader sidekicks are always in my head. I’m compelled to be a better writer for them, to be a better storyteller, to give them more than they give me.

I doubt I’ll ever be able to give them that much, but I can promise all my sidekicks one thing. I will never put carrots in their jello.

What will you never do to your sidekicks?

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Author: Becky Clark

I write funny cozy mysteries and spend my free time attempting to rid my clothing of dog hair, making purses and things out of rescued books, and plastering silly sayings on t-shirts and other products you simply can't live without.

16 thoughts on “A Promise for Sidekicks”

  1. Good post. You hooked me with the intro. And yes, as writers, we do need to pay attention to our sidekicks. It’s easy to sort of dismiss them because they aren’t the protagonist or antagonist, when in fact, they are equally important. Thanks for that reminder.

  2. Thanks, ladies, you’re right, sidekicks are so important. More than once I had so much fun writing my sidekicks that they turned into main characters!

    Forgive me if I don’t respond to comments right away today. I’m lucky enough to get a playdate with one of my real-life sidekicks. Maybe I’ll offer her some jello….

  3. You asked: “What will you never do to your sidekicks?” I would have to say: Never not be there for them.

  4. The sidekicks are always my favorite — Robin, Shirley, Ethel. I would never betray my sidekicks.

  5. Amen, Sue! And Ethel … how could I forget Ethel, the Ultimate Sidekick, ready for any of Lucy’s shenanigans. Thanks for the reminder, Kimberly!

  6. Great post! I never thought of readers as sidekicks but I do know that it’s their encouragement that keeps me going through the tough parts of writing a story.

    What will I never do to my sidekicks? I suppose it would be treat them like sidekicks.

  7. Hi Becky,
    I have the potential to be one of your sidekicks because , you see, I am a reader. I have not (as yet) read any of your books, but after I read your comments, I looked your books up on Amazon. Now, I do judge a book by its cover, so I was not “won over” by the banana and the marshmallow, but I also looked you up on Goodreads, just because I could. I found that other “sidekicks” had written (and I quote) that your books were “hilarious from start to finish” and “made me laugh out-loud.” Now, those sidekicks have enticed me. I absolutely do love a book, a murder book especially, that makes people laugh out loud. I mean, come on !!

    As a reader, whoops, sidekick, I find that recommendations from other readers are important. I know that I absolutely do not like everything that has been written or even everything that I have read, but I value my reading time as if it were cash. It is sometimes hard to come by, and want to “spend” that valuable time wisely. You, Becky, have treated your sidekicks well. They are happy with how you have spend your valuable time writing for them and how they have “spent” their valuable time reading for you. I shall explore those opportunities.

    What should you NEVER do to your sidekicks? Stop making us laugh!
    For you — write on. For me, add you to my “to read” list. Thanks

  8. Love this post, Becky! Wonderful insights. Although my cat would probably argue that she is in fact the hero and we are her sidekicks 😉

  9. Thanks, everyone, and again, apologies for the late response. (But you’ll be happy to know I was out having fun with, yes, my sidekick.)

    Peg … treat your sidekicks like heroes … excellent advice.

    Keenan, Kait, and Kate … I can tell you have furry sidekicks in your lives!

    3no7 … thanks so much for taking the books out for a spin. Hope you enjoy even if you didn’t like the covers. And it’s funny about the covers, because for as many people who hate them, there are just as many who say, “I picked up your book because of the cute cover.” I’ve given up trying to figure it out!

    Thanks, Sam … may all your sidekicks be delicious! Or something.

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