Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Prologues: Good or Evil?


That such a simple word can raise the hackles of so many agents, editors, and writers lends proof to its power. Most people fall into one camp or the other, with the majority, at least those folks who are most vocal, falling into the "prologues must die" camp.

I don't use prologues myself, and I admit that when I see them in a book, I am most likely to ignore them. For me most prologues feel like the author was cheating, as if they doubted their ability to bring a story completely to life, so pulled me aside and said, "Ok, now here's the important stuff you need to know."
While I may not read prologues in my fun reading, I have wadded through my share in a few years of judging writer's contests.  While I have never lowered a score because of a prologue, I have also yet to find a book where the prologue was needed.

And right now prologue lovers everywhere are throwing things at the screen :).  Let me interject, while I don't feel most prologues help the story, many folks really love them.  And the first rule that I think all writers need to stick with (and the only one, aside from "just keep writing, damnit") is be true to yourself.  If you love prologues, and feel you have to have them- do it.  Just really examine why you are using them. Try taking them out or making them chapter one and see what happens.

To show the other side of the great prologue debate, I wanted to use an example of a successful prologue.  I know I've probably got some written examples, but A) can't find them, and B) have found that movie examples often show writing issues better.  So my example of a prologue that works is the recent Star Trek movie. The first ten minutes of the film take place prior to the title shot, so I'm calling it a prologue.  If you haven't seen the movie, the first ten minutes are an intense action scene in which were are shown that Star Trek cannon will not be followed (aka someone goes back in time and screws things up) and that it's a very rough world we have here.  The scene is needed because the actions set up the rest of the movie, ST fans would be confused without it as it changes the life history of the primary characters.  Since no one in that first scene is seen later on in the movie (except the bad guys) I think it works nicely as a prologue to give vital information and set the tone for the movie.

Now what about you?  Love prologues?  Hate them? If you do use them, why?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Do Your Characters Grieve?

This week I lost a very dear friend, my 18 year old cat. She’d been with me side by side through huge changes in my life, and really was a furry family member. For me part of the healing process after a death is telling stories about that person (furry or otherwise). I realized this was my way when I lost my father when I was 19, and my best friend (of the human variety) 5 and a half years ago.

When I lost my father, friends would try and steer me away from talking about him, just so I wouldn’t cry. But I began to realize that if I could talk about him, share stories about him, it helped ease the pain. The same was true when I lost my very dear friend Noelle, and even now when I lost my crazy, sweet kitty, Growl Tiger. Stories and remembrances help me secure that person in my life and remind me how lucky I was to have them when I did.

Now, being a writer, I’ve realized that grief and grieving can have a big impact on fictional characters as well. Even if the reader NEVER sees the death, or even the grief, you as the writer should be fully aware of how this person you’ve created grieves. Who have they lost in their lives? How old were they? What changed when that happened? This is something to be looked at for all characters- your villains too. Unless they are a socio-path, humans grieve. We all grieve differently, but we grieve. If you add that to your characters, you give them one more layer of life.

Now go out and hug everyone you love, and get back to writing.

Growl Tiger Sept 1993- May 22, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Welcome the final installment of Newsletters!

Newsletters for Writers 101 (part three)

This is the third installment of my Newsletters 101 series. Please read Parts One and Two before continuing or you may be in danger of becoming hopelessly adrift in a sea of confusion. Link: http://faeriesdragonsspaceships.blogspot.com/2012/05/guest-blogger-melissa-cutler.html

So far, we've talked about how to create lists, signup forms and signup widgets. Hopefully, you've signed up for published authors' newsletters so you can start to collect examples of what you should be doing and, maybe occasionally, what you don't want to do. I'm also hoping that by now, you've fiddled around with the Mailchimp program enough that you're getting used to its ticks and quirks.

In Mailchimp, a newsletter is called a campaign. And really, that's sort of what marketing is, don't ya think? You're on a campaign to spread the word about your books.

Creating the first campaign is the hardest by far. Have a bottle of wine and a box of cupcakes at the ready when you attempt this. Once you have that first campaign created, you can replicate it for the next campaign, then just go in and change only the info you want. The header, and so forth, will remain the same. I'm telling you think so, when you're halfway through that bottle of wine in hour number three of that first campaign creation, you don't think, "I have to do this every f***ing time????" Relax, soldier. You're going to be all right.

Here we go:

1. From your Mailchimp dashboard, click "campaigns" and a dropdown menu appears. Choose "Regular ole campaign."

2. A page with a gray bar appears. If you only have one list created at this point, you can click "next" (which is located on the right side of the gray bar).

3. This section is where you name your campaign. This name is only for your purposes, so don't make it so generic that you can't easily tell the content of the newsletter. The first one might be "template" or "Test Newsletter" or "I Need More F-ing Wine". I've taken to naming mine with the date I plan to send them out, which helps with my organization because I can tell at a glance which newsletter is most current and when I sent it.

4. The message subject is what your recipients will see in the subject line of their email inboxes. Don't make it something spammy like "win a kindle here!" On the other hand, try not to be boring. No pressure.

5. There are some nice tracking selections on this page too, but for the sake of space in this blog post, I'm going to trust that you understand you can tinker with these options without blowing up your computer. Don't be afraid! When you're done, click "next."

6. Eventually, you'll have your own template designed, but for this "virgin" outing, we must start at the beginning. Select "Basic Templates."

7. You could probably eat the remainder of your box of cupcakes while exploring the options on this page. Let's keep it simple for this tutorial. Select "postcard".

8. Now you've hit the most difficult part of the newsletter journey. Eat a cupcake, refill your wine glass, take a deep breath, and put on some smooth jazz.

9. Don't panic, but I can't write your newsletter for you (unless you're offering me a crapton of money, then we'll talk). You're going to have to be brave, soldier, and do this part yourself.

Here are some tips:

• All the colors are changeable here, as are most of the fields of text.

• If you hover your pointer over any part of the work area, you can edit that section. Even if you don't have a book cover jpeg yet to add, upload a picture so you can get a feel for it. You can even turn the pictures into links, if you want to get fancy about it.

• Any time you want to see a preview, there's a button toward the top left that says "popup preview." And any time you need to walk away—say, to buy more cupcakes—you can hit "Save and Exit". (It's up at the top right of the page)

• Up at the top of the newsletter is a box that starts with "Use this area…" I've received several newsletters from authors who forgot to change this text and it came through to my email with this instructional message. Oops. Be sure you really check carefully that all parts of your newsletter are how you want them.

• There's a button at the bottom to "send test". Do this! Send it to yourself, then check it over. CLICK EVERY LINK to make sure each works.

When you're finished designing your newsletter, go back up to the gray bar and click "next". You'll go to a plain text page. This is a really important step because some people's computers or email systems don't support html. First things first, click the button that says "Copy Text from HTML". Then, go through the text field and clean it up to look like a regular old email message without hyperlinks. You can send a "plain text" test to yourself using the button at the bottom.

The final step in the process is the "confirm" page. From here, you can go back and edit any part of the campaign. You can also view a popup preview, send a test newsletter, schedule your newsletter to be sent at a specific date and time, or send it immediately.

Well…how'd you do? Was that bottle of wine excellent? Did you save a cupcake for me? The process truly does get easier the more you do it, so the best option is to start practicing before you're under the gun with deadlines. For those of you who've gone through the process, did I miss anything? Do share in the comments below! I'm always happy to answer questions, either in the comments section of this blog or through email: cutlermail@yahoo.com.

And if you learned something from these tutorials, I'd love it if you'd subscribe to my newsletter. I send one out twice a month:


Melissa Cutler is a Southern California native living with her family in beautiful San Diego. In 2008, she decided to take her romance novel devotion to the next level by penning one herself. She now divides her time between her dual passions for writing sexy, small town contemporaries for Kensington Books and edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense for Harlequin. Find out more about Melissa and her books at http://www.melissacutler.net/ or write to her at cutlermail@  yahoo.com. You can also find Melissa on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MelissaCutlerBooks) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/m_cutler ).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Quickie About The Big Bads

This past week-end I posted a blog (on Castles & Guns) about villains and a problem I had with them "turning into good guys".

Guess what I started re-watching last night>  Tin Man (if you've never seen it, it is a weird, but well done Wizard of Oz ;)).  And I was reminded that I loved the ending...where the big bad becomes good.

BUT- in this case, she wasn't really herself, but rather the victim of an evil witch...so in  a way, the character was never bad.  Hmmm- that makes sense?  Or am I just confused about how I like my villains? 

How do YOU like your villains?

Thanks for coming by!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Newletters for Writers- Part Two! Guest Blogger Melissa Cutler

I'd like to welcome Melissa back for part two of newsletters!

Newsletters for Writers 101 (part two)

This is the second installment of my Newsletters 101 series. Please read Part One before continuing or you may be in danger of becoming hopelessly adrift in a sea of confusion. Link: http://faeriesdragonsspaceships.blogspot.com/2012/05/guest-blogger-melissa-cutler.html

So…you've created a mailing list and now you've got to fill it. Here are the rules:

Not Cool: automatically adding all the email addresses of everyone you've ever known

Cool: adding a newsletter signup widget to your website.

Not Cool: adding anyone's email address without their express permission.

Cool: tweeting and facebook posting a link to your sign up form in case people would like to sign up.

Not Cool: unless it on behalf of your mother and she's as clueless about the internet as my mother, DO NOT EVER add anyone's email address to your mailing list. If you know someone who'd be delighted to sign up, send them a link to your sign up form and let them do it themselves.

Are you sensing a theme here?

Building up a mailing list takes a lot of time. Don't worry about it. You're in this business for the long haul, right? So what if, for the first few months, you're only distributing your newsletter to your writer friends and your grandma. It'll grow over time—I promise.

Creating a Signup Form

Here's how to create a signup form with a URL you can link to:

1. From your Mailchimp account's dashboard, you want to find "Design a Form" or "Design Signup Forms". Go to there!

2. It's going to take you to a page that looks scary. Put on a brave face and scroll down. You *should* see a long gray bar. Above the bar it should read "Signup Form" in the window of a drop down menu, and in the bar, the first item on the menu is a martini "Build It". If you find this is all true, keep scrolling.

3. You come to an example. This is where you design your form. Hover over the word "Example" and a menu should appear. Here's where things get tricky. Say you had someone design a header for your website and you have the jpeg for it sitting on your computer, you can upload it here by selecting "Design Header" or "Add Image". You can also use a pre-designed Mailchimp header by clicking on "Design Header". Go ahead and play around with it. You can't break anything and you can always start over. Do you see the "remove" button? That's for when you screw up.

4. On to the box with the red dotted line. Hover your pointer over it and an "edit" button should pop up in the right corner. Click it!

5. The box that appears is where you'll write a message to your adoring public about your newsletter. When you're done, hit "Save & Exit". Here's a link to mine for an example: http://melissacutler.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=cbae5804f9559968b4910e503&id=67047d34b9

6. Back to the form. My opinion is to keep it super simple—email addy only. I don't like subscribing to things that require too much personal information. It takes more time and makes me feel icky. I suggest clearing the form of everything but the email address. To do that, click inside the field you want to remove. A plus and minus sign should appear below it. Click the minus sign and follow the instructions in the popup window.

7. Once you have all the fields you want on your form, go back up to the gray bar. The "Design It" tab lets you fiddle with colors. Fiddle away!

8. Skip the "Translate It" tab and head straight to "Share It"

9. On the upper left side of this page, you should see "Subscribe Form URL". Go to there! This should take you to the form you created. Save it to your internet "favorites" list for easy access. If you want to get fancy, the "Share It" page has html you can embed to your website. But if you can do that, you probably don't need this newsletter tutorial ;).

10. To leave the form creation page, click the blue "Save & Exit" button.

Signup Widgets

Everyone loves a good widget. And if you don't know what a widget is, you're screwed. (Just kidding!) A widget is one of those extra, bonus thingies that lives in the margins of your blog or website and does a specific task. You might have a widget that shows part of your twitter feed, or another that displays your books on Goodreads. I use WordPress.org, which has a special widget page on the dashboard and you can drag and drop all the widgets your heart desires. Widgets could be their own special blog post, so for the purpose of this post I'll just say that the Mailchimp signup widget will be a "text" widget. If you're not sure what that means, look on your website's widget page for a "text" option. If you don't see that, you're screwed! (Just kidding again! If the wide world of widgets isn't your forte, befriend a computer savvy person. Ply them with cupcakes and beer until they help you.)

Here's how to create a widget:

1. From your Mailchimp account's dashboard, you want to find "Design a Form" or "Design Signup Forms". Go to there!

2. On the scary page, across the menu in red font below the creepy chimp cartoon, find "For Your Website". Go to there!

3. Then select (from the new red font list) "Signup Form Embed Code"

4. You'll have three options: Super Slim, Classic, and Naked. I could make a lot of juvenile jokes right now, but I'm not going to and you can't make me.

5. Click on each option and figure out what you like best. There are also options within the options, but, like the signup form, you're better off keeping it simple. You definitely want to change the title, which is one of those options within the options choices.

6. When you get it the way you want it, open a new internet window and go to your website or blog's dashboard. Go to your widget menu and get a new text box ready. Then, toggle back to your Mailchimp page and hit the blue "Create Embed Code"

7. Double click on the html gibberish in the box to highlight it all. Then, while it's highlighted, right click and select "copy".

8. Toggle back to your website widget menu and paste the gibberish into the text widget box.

9. Save the widget you just created, then cross your fingers and toes and visit your website to see if it worked.

10. If it didn't work, you're screwed! (or you can call up your new computer savvy friend and ply him or her with more cupcakes and beer)

Can you believe we're on day two of this tutorial and we haven't created a newsletter yet? Well, what's the point of a newsletter if you don't make it super easy to sign up? I promise I'll be back (if Marie Andreas lets me) with more thrilling installments of Newsletters for Writers 101. Until next time! (Melissa, you bet you're going to be back here for the next part!- Marie ;)).

Melissa Cutler is a Southern California native living with her family in beautiful San Diego. In 2008, she decided to take her romance novel devotion to the next level by penning one herself. She now divides her time between her dual passions for writing sexy, small town contemporaries for Kensington Books and edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense for Harlequin. Find out more about Melissa and her books at http://www.melissacutler.net/or write to her at cutlermail@ yahoo. com. You can also find Melissa on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MelissaCutlerBooks) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/m_cutler).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guest Blogger: Melissa Cutler- Newsletters for Writers: 101 (Part One)

I'd like to welcome a guest today--wonderful writer and good friend, Melissa Cutler!

Newsletters for Writers: 101 (Part One)

I've recently entered the wide world of newsletters and mailing lists using Mailchimp. Mailchimp is one of these cool, free tools that you'll want to be familiar with well in advance of the release date of your debut novel. It's one of those Oh, crap, I must do everything all at once! thoughts that goes through your brain during the perfect storm of panic you'll feel immediately upon coming down from the clouds of receiving The Call. Trust me on this.

If you're a self-publishing author, maybe you don't experience the same level of panic at all the things you're "supposed to be doing." Then again, maybe you do.

And if you're not yet published, then I'm glad you're reading this. I wish I'd laid more foundation during my pre-publishing days, er, years. You might be surprised to learn that there's lots you can do to prep for publication long before you ever get The Call. And you're never going to give up on your dream to be published, right? So eventually, all this planning is going to pay off, isn't it? Yes, it is! (power of positive thinking!)

The first thing you should know about newsletters is that you can play around with the program, learning its intricacies, way ahead of needing it. There's no actual chimp on Mailchimp that makes you send newsletters out to your *readers*. I'm just sayin'. You can create innumerable newsletters and send them to yourself. Or you can send newsletters to your family members with photos of the kids or you can harass connect with your writer friends with practice newsletters.

Rule Number One: Subscribe to newsletters of published authors. When you receive them, study them for details, such as:

• What does the header look like?

• How many columns in the layout?

• How many different items does the newsletter discuss?

• What links does the author include?

• What is the overall tone of the newsletter (chatty, formal, etc.)?

• What do they keep the same from newsletter to newsletter?

Then, you file the newsletters you think are excellent in the brand new "Newsletter" folder you created in your email program. Got it? You'll want these later when you're writing your own and looking for inspiration. Again, trust me on this.

Here are some newsletters I recommend subscribing to. I'm not providing links because you should visit these people's websites and notice how easy (or hard) they make it for people to join their mailing lists. This should give you the right idea about how you need to approach the placement of the newsletter sign up on your website or blog. Okay, on to the newsletters I recommend**:

• Nora Roberts

• Susan Mallory

• Vicky Dreiling

• Vince Flynn

• Christina Dodd

• Lisa Kessler

**I invite you to use the comment section to share other newsletters you subscribe to that we might learn from. Sharing knowledge is next to Godliness! Wait, that's not how the saying goes… (but it should).

Anyhow, on to the next rule.

Rule Number Two: Do not sign up for Mailchimp's fee-based programs. Free is good enough until you're Susan Mallory or Christina Dodd! Take all that money and put it into something more important. Like Starbucks Lattes to help you stay up later at night and, therefore, help you write faster. The free program will track number of opens and clinks on links, social media shares and clicks, and lots of other fun data that will make your eyes crossed. The free program will allow you to create a mailing list sign-up widget for your website and a sign-up form with a URL so you can link directly to it on social media.

Lets get started.

1. Sign up for a Mailchimp account: http://mailchimp.com/

2. Follow the directions to activate your account

3. On the Mailchimp website, fill in the fields they require. Note: whatever address you put here will show up on your newsletters, so if you don't have a PO Box, write something fake that's not your home address.

4. They will send you back and forth to your email to click on things.

5. Once you've sufficiently jumped through all the hoops, you'll (hopefully) arrive at a screen that says "Get Started with Mailchimp in Three Easy Steps". Click the first one: "Create a List"

6. You'll arrive at another field page. Make the list name a good one because there are some instances where the public will see this. The only exception is if this is just a practice that you're going to send to yourself. In that case, name it something outrageous.

7. The only field I could see you having trouble with is the "remind people how they got on your list" field. When you click in that box, an example will show up at the bottom of the box. Keep it simple and copy the example. Unless, of course, this is a practice you'll be sending to yourself only. Then, you might write, "Because I put you on the list, bitch" or something equally rousing.

8. You do have a chance on this page to change the address that will appear on the newsletters. Double check that you won't be sending out your home address.

9. Once you're done with the list creation…

Aw, snap—I'm stopping here for today! Tune in for the next installment of newsletter basics.

Do you have any questions so far? Do you subscribe to any newsletters that are excellent? What do you like to read or see in newsletters? I'd love to hear from you.

Melissa Cutler is a Southern California native living in beautiful San Diego. She divides her time between her dual passions for writing sexy, small town contemporaries for Kensington Books and edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense for Harleqin. Find out more about Melissa and her books (and sign up for her newsletter *wink*) at http://www.melissacutler.net/or write to her at cutlermail@ yahoo.com. You can also find Melissa on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MelissaCutlerBooks) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/m_cutler)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rejection Happens.

And if you step in it, it will get your shoes filthy.

But it is part of writing. Not just something that will happen to those “other writers”, if you are submitting your work, you will get rejected. Most likely a hell of a lot.


Writing is a brutal, vile, nasty business, filed with shattered dreams, broken hearts, and damaged computers. But once you realize you’re a writer, there's no way out. Well, to be fair, you may be stuck being a writer, they really haven’t created a 12 step program for us yet, but you chose to send your work out. This is all self-inflicted, baby. (If you are at the stage of being able to walk away from being a writer- DO IT! RUN! Save yourself! It’s too late for the rest of us!)

So what is the best way to deal with any natural disaster? (And, yes, I am lumping rejections in that group- self-inflicted or not ;)).

Plan. You know it’s going to happen. IT WILL HAPPEN. So, have a plan for it.

First, let’s look at what NOT to do (please feel free to add your own in the comments section below ;)).

NOT recommended:


2) Venting to non-writers. This is akin to complaining to your friends when you and your significant other have a fight. Your friends don’t like to see you in pain, so they may try to steer you away from the pain causing element (aka writing or your significant other). Other writers understand that just because you vent doesn’t mean you’re giving up. If you have non-writing friends/family who get that as well (and luckily I do :)) hang on to them! Otherwise, keep your venting to those who will know it for what it is.

3) Do not engage in the Pity Party portion of the program UNTIL you’ve done damage control. You want to enjoy the pity party, and if you’re still wounded and wallowing you won’t. You’ll eat lots of calories and not even enjoy it! Allow yourself to have a Pity Party, but be alert and aware during it.

4) Don’t revamp your entire book based on ONE person’s opinion. No matter who that one person is. Now, if you get a lot of feedback aiming towards the same weakness- then take a long hard look at it. Likewise, don’t obsess on tiny points of “meaning” in the rejection letter. Take anything constructive, then walk away from the rest. And a form letter just means an agent/editor didn’t have time to break down why they were rejecting it. It could be they just bought something just like yours. Don’t obsess, take what works, and then move on.

Now what are some plans for what to do? (Again, please feel free to add your own!)


1) Soak in the rejection- seriously soak it in. Pretend those vile words of nastiness are your favorite guilty pleasure and drink them up.

2) Allow yourself to react. Don’t be strong, brave, powerful, or whatever for a good couple of minutes. Yell, scream, cry, threaten, punch things (that won’t be hurt or hurt you ;))- but give yourself a set time. I recommend deciding on the time limit before the rejection hits.

3) Cut yourself off at your set time and look for damage. Still breathing? Excellent. No major bloody head wounds? Fabu. Limbs? Check, there should be the same amount you started with. More or less and you’ve got a problem (particularly if there are now more).

4) Since this rejection did no physical damage, now look for the psychological. Ask yourself if this rejection has the RIGHT to attack who you are. NOT your writing, but who you are. Because that’s what happens, and what does the damage. It is our writing that has been rejected for whatever reason- NOT US. Yes, our writing is part of us, but it is not us, one story does not define who we are.

Yes, our books are our babies; we’ve all spent WAY too much blood, sweat, and caffeine on them for someone to not love them and it not hurt like hell. But the books aren’t us. We can write more books, we can fix the current book, or we can find someone who LOVES the current book as it is. Bandage that psyche, and move on.

5) Look for anything of value in the rejection. I have been told that I have a great voice, am a wonderful storyteller, have masterful plotting, great characters, and a fabulous sense of pacing, all by professional agents and editors (sadly, not all from the SAME professional). I have also been told the exact OPPOSITE of many of those things. I take what works to help me grow (and give me the fortification that I’m hopefully doing something right ;))- then dump the rest and keep marching forward.

6) Pity Party-Celebration. Yes, now that you have gone through the rejection checklist, and realized that you survived, and that your writing survived, let yourself celebrate. It can still have a twinge of pity, you took a loss, and it’s ok to grieve. But it should also be a celebration. Whether it’s your 1st or your 500th- each rejection reaffirms who you are. A Writer. Be proud, go out and celebrate, watch a favorite show, eat something decadent, whatever you want (limited time though- ONLY the day of the rejection). You're moving in the right direction- enjoy it.

7) Dust yourself off, pull up your big girl/big boy panties and get back out there. No one is holding a gun to your head to write or submit- YOU are doing it because you love writing and want to share it with others. NEVER forget that.

We write. We get rejected. We keep writing.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sidekicks: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

We all know them, the funny sidekick to our favorite characters. Since TV shows are more universal than specific books, and easier to use for my examples, I’ll stick with TV sidekicks for this post. But the premise is the same with literary sidekicks ;). Many times sidekicks get more attention than the main character (on TV- Jim Parsons (actor who plays Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory) has been nominated/won many awards, whereas the “main” character hasn’t). Most of the quoted one-liners from fans come from his character.  The sidekicks for both Lost Girl (Kenzie) and Grimm (Monroe) regularly steal the show in my book.

So, if these sidekicks are so cool, and so popular, why can’t they be the main character?

Because their strength lies in playing off the straight man/woman- the main character. Sheldon is hysterical, (Big Bang Theory) but his character would be too much and cross into just annoying if the show had him as the centerpiece (Big Bang Theory is an ensemble show, but all of the characters revolve around their connection to Leonard).

Since the sidekick is often comic relief, putting them as the main focus often weakens them since the scriptwriter is taking away one of their strengths to make them more serious for a heavier role. The same can happen if a novelist decides that they want to give more weight to a comic relief character- doesn't always work.

The sidekick character gives the main character depth, by allowing the reader (or watcher) to see different sides of the character without the author telling us or pounding us over the head with it. Through the sidekick we often get a reprieve from the drama of the main plot, a chance to relax before the next "big bad" comes our way. Also,a lot of true character development comes about from seeing how the character relates to different people and different situations. A sidekick allows you to show aspects of your character that you want the reader to know, but other characters are unaware of.

One rule of caution about a great sidekick, if your sidekick is TOO good, too interesting, too much fun to write, you may have actually created two main characters. I’d look at them carefully and see who is really the story teller? Who is the main character for whom the rest of the world (in the reader’s eyes) revolves around? Hate to say it, but in some cases you may be telling the wrong person’s story.

What about you? Do you consciously have sidekicks in your books (I do. The one time I tried not to, it drove me insane- but that’s another post ;)). Who are some of your favorite sidekicks?

Thanks for coming by!