By Lynn McPherson
I love developing characters for stories. Right now I'm writing the first draft of a new book and I'm in the process of narrowing down the sidekick--who is she and why do I like her? I’ve talked about them before but I think it's worth bringing up again.
Why is a sidekick so important? Simple. She is an ally to our amateur sleuth--someone trustworthy enough for her to share secrets with. There's no one better to bounce ideas off of than a best bud.
Top three qualities in a sidekick? Here's my picks:
1. Good Listening Skills!
What is the point of having great insight if there is no one around to share it with? A sidekick in a mystery must be willing to indulge the protagonist no matter what they are prattling on about. It goes beyond the passive ability to hear. The character must absorb what the sleuth is saying and sometimes even help progress ideas along so they are not mere musings. The amateur sleuth can either turn them into coherent theories, or pass them off as sheer observations.
Of all the qualities in a friend, this one always tops the charts. The main character in a cozy needs someone to rely on through thick and thin. This is especially important in the business of amateur sleuthing since the protagonist is almost always mixed up in murder! It’s important for the reader to have faith in the friendship, as well. With so many suspects on the loose, there should be at least one dependable friend at all times—someone who will always be there, even when things go awry.
Part of the charm of mysteries is the knowledge that a solution lies at the end of the book. The puzzle will be solved, order will be restored. Light mysteries require an element of joy that is brought about through close relationships within the surrounding community—most notably, with her ever-present true friend and confidante. Why not make them a funny? It’s a great way to lighten the mood and show the sleuth doesn’t take herself too seriously all of the time.
The name of the sidekick in my Izzy Walsh Mystery Series is Ava Russell. She has all of the above qualities and was my favorite character to write--especially the dialogue. Sassy is probably the best word to describe her. Ava is inspired by Jane Russell's character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Dorothy Shaw.
I hope everyone can get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Until then, happy reading!
Lynn McPherson has worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ran a small business, and taught English across the globe. She has travelled the world solo where her daring spirit has led her to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks, and learn she would never master a surfboard. She now channels her lifelong love of adventure and history into her writing, where she is free to go anywhere, anytime. Her cozy series has three books out: The Girls' Weekend Murder and The Girls Whispered Murder, and The Girls Dressed For Murder.