Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sidekicks, The Buddy System for Sleuths

Not necessary, but supplying your sleuth with a sidekick can have benefits. Many famous detectives had sidekicks with some duos being nearly inseparable.  Mention Sherlock Holmes and John Watson comes to mind. Sgt. Joe Friday always had Office Bill Gannon at his side. Adrian Monk kept his assistant near.

Does your sleuth need a buddy? Contemplate this.

Everybody needs a sounding board. Somebody to talk to.  A confidant. Ultimately your detective will want somebody to talk to and try out ideas.  The sidekick is this guy.

  • Alternate view point.  Your sleuth spouts his latest theory of the killer’s method, and the sidekick chimes, “Yes, but what if…” The sleuth says black, and sidekick says could be white.  Up or down?  High or low?  Opposite view points keep the possibilities open.
  • Ever need your brain picked?  A good sidekick will ask questions.  Need further explanations. Push for exemplification. It keeps the story going, but the real effect is to keep your readers informed.
  • Scenes can flow better with two people.  Yes, a scene can be a single character, just the sleuth, but toss in another character, the sidekick, and things go smoothly.  They can talk and argue and discuss the clues.  He can watch your sleuth’s back. Do some grunt work. And just be there for support.
  • Off camera details. The sidekick loves errands (maybe) and can take care of detail too mundane for the detective and uninteresting for the reader.  Time passes and the sidekick returns with the information, missing evidence, a sudden revelation to keep the plot moving. Don’t even have to go into great detail how he did it.

What do you need for a great sleuth-sidekick combo? Chemistry.  Detective soulmates.  Your duo needs to complement each other. Balancing out the sleuth’s personality. If he is cold and calculating, the sidekick is warm and candid. A moody, stuffy sleuth needs a steady, laid-back sidekick. Genius thinker vs everyday guy.  Rude, arrogant needs polite, humble. Opposites can attract. Balance, balance, balance. This should not be a formula but return to the idea of soulmates in solving crimes.

Other features to consider about the sidekick

  • Loyal to the sleuth.
  • Supporting the cause of solving the crime.
  • When things get tough, the sidekick hangs in there.
  • The sleuth’s number one cheerleader.

Some Famous Detective Teams
Sherlock Holmes — John Watson
Hercule Poirot —  Arthur Hastings
Martin Beck — Gunvald Larsson
Master Li — Number Ten Ox
Sister Fidelma — Brother Eadulf
Hildegarde Withers — Inspector Oscar Pipe
Spenser — Hawk
Perry Mason — Della Street, Paul Drake
Sgt. Joe Friday — Officer Bill Gannon
Green Hornet — Kato (Crimefighter)
Batman — Robin (Detective Comics)
Lord Peter Wimsey — Mervyn Bunter
Albert Campion — Magersfontein Lugg
Precious Ramotswe — Grace Makutsi
Adrian Monk — Sharona Fleming, later Natalie Teeger
Charlie Chan — Number One Son
Nero Wolfe — Archie Goodwin
Inspector Darko Dawson — Philip Chikata
Inspector Morse — Sergeant Lewis
Inspector Thomas Lynley — Sergeant Barbara Havers
Dave Robicheaux — Clete Purcel
DI Jimmy Perez — DS Alison McIntosh