Character Sources: Ideas for Writing Sidekicks

Writing Novels That Sell with Adrienne deWolfe

Personally, I never have trouble coming up with outrageous sidekicks for my heroes and heroines.  (Yes, it’s a gift.)

Seriously, though, I love writing secondary characters, because they don’t have to walk such a tightrope of “heroism.”  Secondary characters can be whiners or smart-alecks.  They can refuse to tip the waiter or get drunk at the wedding and brawl with the groom. In the end, they can still come out smelling like a rose (if you let them.) 

Secondary characters – especially sidekicks – are wonderful for revealing the various sides of your hero’s persona, from his wounded heart to his noble nature.  Best of all, readers are more likely to cut your sidekicks some slack.  If you write a sidekick that’s interesting, compelling, and memorable, you can even redeem him and make him the hero of a future book.

But where do you find these alluring, smart-alecky, big-hearted sidekicks?

You can base your secondary characters on real people, psychological types, or archetypes. Keep in mind, however, that compelling fictional characters display a consistent individuality.  In other words, you may need to draw from several or all of the following sources to make your characters interesting and complex:

∙    Psychology Books
∙    Astrology
∙    The Bible
∙    Mythical Archetypes
∙    Your Imagination
∙    Real People

“Of course I base my characters partlyon the people I know - one can’t escape it - but fictional characters...are much less complex than the people one knows.” - Aldous Huxley

Secondary characters can be found in your protagonist’s:

∙    Job environment
∙    Family
∙    Neighborhood
∙    Pets
∙    Dreams, Nighmares, or Imagination (including otherworldly creatures)

Remember to give your sidekicks real passions. These goals, motivations, and conflicts will define your secondary characters and the protagonists who interact with them, while shaping the story plot of your book.