Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Won't You Be My Sidekick?

A writer's newsletter I receive urged all its readers to consider adding a sidekick to their books, to liven things up and get the protagonist out of his own head. Without actually having read the article, I've been meditating on their many useful purposes:

1. To make the protagonist look less idiotic. Think of Batman and Robin. If your hero runs around in a dark mask with tiny bat ears and throws little bat-shaped boomerangs, you definitely want him accompanied by an even more ludicrous young fellow clad in primary colors and a minimal eye mask that wouldn't fool anyone.

2. To give the protagonist a reason to talk about what he's thinking and feeling without making him appear utterly self-absorbed. Where would Pocahontas be without Grandmother Willow and that annoying hummingbird-raccoon combo? She couldn't express her innermost thoughts to John Smith, after all, since they didn't speak the same language. Oh--I forgot--they did speak the same language after about five minutes.

3. To make the protagonist appear likeable. Sure, there have been plenty of books and movies about repellent loners, but if you don't happen to be writing about a serial killer or other psychopath, likeability isn't a bad thing. (And even Dick Hickock and Perry Smith had each other in Capote's IN COLD BLOOD.) Lack of sidekick may have been the reason Bella Swan wore people out eventually in the TWILIGHT series: if the girl had absolutely no friends besides a few vampires and overgrown wolves, maybe we shouldn't be hanging out with her either.

All of which is to say, I'm looking for a few sidekicks at some upcoming book events. Think about poor authors sitting at tables by themselves while strangers scuttle by, eyes averted, thinking, "Oh, my, what an idiotic, self-absorbed, unlikeable person!" With your engaging presence, people are more likely to think, "Wow! What charming readers this author attracts. Perhaps if I purchase that book, I might be another such person."

Let us enhance each other. Catch me at:

Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle
Tuesday, Feb 9, 2010, at 7:00 p.m.
(And, no, I'm not the abortion doctor advertised on the site)

And, for variety, I'll be talking about being a writer who happens to be Christian and the intersection of Christians and culture at Seattle University's "Search for Meaning: Pacific NW Spirituality Book Festival" on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010, at 1:00 p.m. in Rm 106, Pigott Auditorium.
(If you get bored during my session, you can run next door and catch Robert "All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten" Fulghum! Even my own husband heard who I was up against and said, "Nobody will come to your session!")

You complete me. See you then.

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