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Help! I Need A Sidekick!

Your protagonist is in need of a sidekick. Maybe they are in need of a foil, or someone to get them out of trouble.

Sidekicks can be very useful. They provide your protagonist with someone to talk to, and they can assist in moving the plot forward. Be careful they aren't too boring or pointless.
Here's a few ways to make your sidekick interesting:

1. Foil characters can be fun sometimes

Nanny Ogg from Discworld (right) is possibly one of my favorite sidekicks. She adds an excellent air of comedy as well as being a helpful foil to the grim and fearsome Granny Weatherwax. As well as being a witch, Nanny Ogg has been married three times and has numerous children and grandchildren, an unusual talent for cooking, and an evil cat called Greebo. Despite being a sidekick, she provides much insight to the character of Granny Weatherwax at the same time as having an equally colorful personality.
Make sure your foil characters are interesting too, instead of just being writing devices.

2. Add a twist of fantasy

These are always fun, but watch out for cliches.

Fantasy races

Elves can be awesome if written well. However in my experience elves have basically been spinoffs of Tolkien or takes on Santa's little helpers. Dwarves aren't nearly as overused, but please lay off the overworked short bearded men with scottish accents and a mechanical bent. Terry Pratchett (Author of Discworld again) had a handful of female dwarves, which was an original move. A werewolf or vampire as a sidekick, as cool as they sound, might actually be too interesting and eclipse your MC. If your MC is going to be a fantasy race as well, it might actually be interesting to give them a human sidekick. Cultural differences are always super fun to write. And if you're going to invent your own fantasy race, good for you. Just make sure they don't eclipse your MC in awesomeness. I have missed out a ton of other races but this could take forever if I go into faeries, orcs, trolls and so on.

Fantasy creatures

Like I said about the elves, dragons can be very trite. Unicorns are less so, and I can only think of one book that has a mermaid/man as a sidekick, Ingo. Helen Dunmore did a really good job creating a more original race of mermaids. Genies and Djinns as sidekicks could be very interesting. Try to avoid cliches. You could do this by twisting them, like how Terry Pratchett gave dragons incredibly bad digestive systems which made them occasionally spontaneously combust. Just remember that one main aspect of a sidekick is being able to talk to the protagonist.

3. Add a twist of Sci-Fi

Mechanical friend

These can be fun. Think of R2D2 and C3PO in Star Wars. Your protagonist could have built it himself, wanting a friend to talk to or someone to order around. Or they could have discovered on their adventures. Think The Legend Of Zita. Your bot could have a colourful personality thanks to highly advanced AI, but make sure they fit in with the tech of the world your MC lives in.

4. They could just be a pet

If you are feeling that a human(oid) sidekick would be a bit flat, just make them an animal instead! It would probably fulfill its purpose just as well. Your protagonist can talk to a pet, and the pet could provide help in dire circumstances (e.g. dogs can be trained to smell out bombs, birds can send messages). For some reason Disney princesses almost ALWAYS have an animal sidekick. However watch out for deux ex machina pets.

Basically, watch out for cliches and have fun.



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