Archive for December 17th, 2011

Dec 17 2011

How to Write a Good Sidekick

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

A bad sidekick aggravates readers and weakens the story.  Over the past 25 years, the two live-action Batman movies with Robin have averaged 29% on Rotten Tomatoes.  The four without Robin have averaged 82%.  Here are some tips that will help you write a sidekick that will excite readers rather than make them want to stick their brains in a blender.

 

(Amazingly, the nipples on Robin's suit weren't the worst thing Batman & Robin did to the character).

 

1. If a character is actually interesting enough to belong as a sidekick, promote him to partner or superhero.  Calling him a “sidekick” cues readers that he’s probably a distraction from the character that actually matters.  If he’s not interesting enough to be a partner, you’d probably be better off without him altogether.  Alternately, you can have a character play an interesting role far from the spotlight.  For example, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) adds an interesting ideological dispute with Batman in The Dark Knight but he gets extremely little screen-time and never participates in any fights.

 

2. Give yourself a reason for writing in a partner/sidekick besides adding “relatability” for younger readers.  If you’re mainly including a sidekick for relatability, I think you’ll probably aggravate older readers more than you’ll please younger ones.  For example, watch Robin in Batman and Robin, Scrappy Doo in too many Scooby Doo episodes, or Jar-Jar Binks in Phantom Menace.  Did these characters at any point take the story in a direction that you wanted to go?  Or were they exceedingly unlikable and a distraction from more interesting characters?

 

3. Here are some better reasons for having a partner than relatability.  

  • In Kick-Ass, the relationship between Hit Girl and Big Daddy (her father) was probably the most interesting character dynamic.  It was somehow simultaneously abusive and touching, both of which helped flesh him out as a three-dimensional character rather than just another ersatz Punisher.  Also, having Hit Girl be insanely effective in battle was a delightful subversion that raised the stakes for Kick-Ass.  (If you’re a superhero getting schooled in battle by a 11 year old girl, maybe it’s time to think about hanging up the tights).
  • The character is a loner, but his thought processes are interesting enough that his interactions would develop him and/or the story.  For example, one of Watson’s main roles is giving Holmes a way to narrate the mental leaps he’s making to solve the case.  As the “straight man,” he’s also the audience stand-in, which helps create a contrast with the eccentric and unorthodox Holmes.
  • You absolutely need someone with a particular skill to make a plot arc work, but for whatever reason, it wouldn’t make sense to give that skill to the main character.

 

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Dec 17 2011

This speaks for itself, I think

Published by under Comedy

I made this t-shirt on CustomInk. It is a t-shirt for spectacular people.

Funny T-shirt about ninjas killing dinosaurs

 

Custom t-shirt printing at CustomInk.com

 

 

 

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