Friday, August 14, 2015

Sidekicks Part 2

(Or “Sidekicks Made Special”)

Last week, I talked about Allies who shouldn’t exist. Today, I’d like to continue my “Allies in August” theme. However, I’ll be taking this time to explain what makes Allies so good, so useful, so real.

Enter a character of mine who used to be a Minor Villain. 

How many books have you read that have no Ally whatsoever? This includes the love interest (who can arguably be called an Ally in their own right, or should be), the random guy who gives the Hero directions, and even the minor villains. After all, those guys should be the same thing to the main villain as the Ally is to the Hero.

An Ally is, in short, someone who helps the Hero. One could argue that the mentor character (i.e. Obi-wan Kenobi, Dumbledore, and Gandalf) is an Ally as well.
There are very, very few novels without allies. In stories, as in life, no one can get through to the end all alone. We need friends and mentors and guides, just as heroes need friends and mentors and guides. Funny how stories mirror life in that way, isn’t it?

So. If we want allies in our stories, shouldn’t we want them to be the best they can be? If the heroine is so important, is the ally any less important? Sure, he’s not the focus of this particular story, but imagine the story from his own eyes. His friend won’t be the focus of that tale. He will be. Each person views their saga as their own. No one wants to narrate the story of someone else; that’s not human nature. Just as the heroine focuses on her tale, and not her ally’s, so should the ally see himself as his own hero.

Few allies should show up in the story and say “hey, you know what, I’m not important. The MC is clearly more important than me.” They might say that the Main Character’s goal is more important in this time and place, sure. But they still view themselves as a main character in a different story.

Today, I’d like to look at one particular Ally who does this well. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilage (meaning the moldy, green stuff, not meaning where I tell you the ending of the story), but I can’t make any promises.
My example today is a Weasley. That means red hair, spunky attitude, a fondness for laughter, food, and friends. Loyal to the core and never prejudiced (HA!), and with a good heart.

His name is Ron.

This character hails from a story that is not his own. In fact, the story is named directly after the main character. Poor Ron. He’s your average (perhaps a little below) wizard, hailing from a wizarding family. Second youngest of seven. Three of his older brothers were at the top of their class at school. “Prefects”, I believe they were called.

Isn't he adorable? *snickers*
Throughout the series, Ron is called upon to do all sorts of things for the hero. Fight in a deadly chess match, break rules, eat chocolate frogs, and endanger himself, his family, his friends, and his girl. Over and over and over he sacrifices his own goals for an MC who is, in some ways, quite selfish.

Somewhere in there is the key to a good Ally. And I’ll go ahead and point it out to you: “his own goals”.
Did you catch that?
Let me try again:
His own goals.”
Ron’s goals were not always the same as his main characters were. He wanted to be Prefect, Head Boy, captain of the Quidditch team. To get the girl, be the hero. Pass all his exams, especially potions. Be on time for dinner for once in his life.

Yet he gave them up.
Ron saw how important the goals of the main character were. And he gave up his own goals to see those achieved. Ron wasn’t the hero of the story that is told, but he is still a hero.

There are simple steps to take to make your Ally a Hero in his or her own right. Sadly, I don’t know all of them.
Instead, I’ll give you two simple tips:

1. Ask what.
What are the Allies goals?
What goals must the Ally give up?
What goals do the Ally and Hero have in common?
What goals does the Ally have that might clash with the Hero’s?
What did the Ally have for breakfast the day before the adventure began?

2. Ask why.
Just as in Worldbuilding, “why” is one of the most important questions you can ask.
Why does the Ally give up her goals?
Why are the goals of the Hero admirable to the Ally?
Why do the Hero and Ally connect? Why do they work together?
Why does the Ally settle for not being the main character?

All Allies have one thing in common. No matter how different they look, where in the universe they come from, when they last had a good breakfast, what their hair color is, why they give up their goals, who they follow. One simple thing.
They are their own hero.

And best of all, we get to watch them sacrifice that chance at being the hero.

What a sacrifice.

What about your Ally? What does s/he give up for your Hero? I’d love to hear about them, leave a comment and share!


  1. You always make your point so clear - good work! I'm terrible at explaining things. It's easier to write them out, but I still sound like I'm rambling.
    Thank you for writing these Ally posts!

    1. Thanks Lisa!
      Ahahah, I tend to ramble when I speak. Everything just keeps needing to be explained and explained and...

      My pleasure! :)

    2. Haha no one's ever called me Lisa before so I was a little confused at first ;)
      Yea...glad you understand! I guess it explains why I'm also so bad at writing endings for my stories :P Maybe you could write a post about 'how to bring your novel to a conclusion' (or something like that) - I'd be forever grateful.

    3. Oh, haha. Livvie, then?

      Hm. Endings are my favorite thing to write, actually. Getting just the right amount said without saying everything. Lots of fun.
      I'll certainly consider finding a slot for such a post! Thanks for the suggestion! (Meanwhile, I did blog about endings back in February: And on prologues/epilogues back in March:
      You know, if they're helpful.)

    4. No, Lisa's fine! I kinda like it.
      But I'm gonna call you Bender now.

      Well, that's good. I can never find a good solution(s) to all my story's conflicts. I'm not so bad at writing the /very/ end (the part in my story where everyone is recovering from the 'final battle' and going back to their lives or whatever). But I'm terrible at thinking of a way for my Hero to defeat the Villain...or stop whatever horrible thing is going to happen. I should have been more specific :P
      But hey, your 'endings and beginnings' post was really good!

      I've really spammed up this post with my comments, I'm sorry.
      Thank you so much for your replies and thoughts!

    5. Haha, Lisa it is, then. :P

      Ohhh. Makes sense. It can be quite difficult. I've got posts from now till mid-October planned out, but I'll stick it on the list!

      XD It's no problem. That's what the comments are for.
      My pleasure!