baroness emma orczy, bbc sherlock, brian jacques, characters, friends, j.r.r. tolkien, lord of the rings, madeleine l'engle, redwall, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, star wars, story dynamics, the scarlet pimpernel
Going through life would be pretty lonely without friends, Good Samaritans, and (possibly) spouses. So why deprive your protagonist?
Every protagonist needs a good friend, whether said friend is sidekick or equal. Every Sherlock Holmes needs a Dr. John H. Watson. Every Triss needs a Shogg. Every Luke needs a Leia (and possibly a Han as well.) Every Percy Blakeney needs a Marguerite. Here’s a list of good things that should be present with every best friend/spouse/partner:
- Faithful. Every companion must be faithful, loyal, and committed. It should take more than a little argument to make them go their separate way. A good example of this trait is Doctor John Hamish Watson. Even when everyone else believed that Sherlock was a fraud, John stuck by him. Even when everyone else was condemning Sherlock for killing Magnusson, John was there.
- Reliable. They must turn up when needed. If you get tired of your main character saving the day, then you can have their companion do it! Here’s where Snips comes in handy… when Anakin is in a jam, Padawan Tano springs in and saves the day.
- Courageous? Maybe even courageous enough to stand up to their BFF about things the hero has done that they don’t agree with! Obi-Wan Kenobi, definitely. He doesn’t care what Anakin thinks; he will keep on guiding Anakin whether Master Skywalker likes it or not. And bonus! Even when Anakin does something wrong, Obi-Wan is brave enough to stand up to the Council and say “Give him another chance!”
- Honest, even brutally so. Sometimes a hero just needs to hear the truth, no sugar and no strings attached. Meg Murry. I need say no more.
- Cheerful. When things are at their darkest, a hero needs cheering up. Who do you call? Gonff, the Prince of Mousethieves!
- Deadly in battle? Perhaps. If your hero needs help. Samwise Gamgee may be humble, but he’s also quite the fighter!
- Unassuming. Sollertree the Hedgehog, of Salamandastron fame. He lived as he died, quiet and humble, and jerked more tears out of me than any other Redwall book death except for Cregga’s death in Taggerung, and his death served the double purpose of showing how serious the quest was.
Bear in mind, most of these things are optional, though put most or all of them together and you have a foolproof recipe for a good pal. But be creative! Give your companion a backstory, as well! Or don’t give them any–except for the fact that he was Qui-Gon Jinn’s apprentice, we knew practically nothing about Obi-Wan Kenobi’s background until the Clone Wars came along… and he still managed to fascinate us. Fleeing from the past? Healing the wounds dealt by fate? The companion is a character in his own right–have fun crafting him or her!
Make a whole cast of friends, or just one or two. But give your hero a companion! Your novel will be the more complete for the attention.