Yesterday we had a look at the demise of the Mentor, and talked about the importance of their demise. Today we’re going to kick it up a notch and talk about the demise of the sidekick or side character.
Last week we developed the side character and talked about the importance of having a sidekick. Today we will destroy them.
Why do we need to do this?
You don’t actually have to destroy the sidekick, or hurt them, or kill them. You just have to put them in a position where they are not doing the Hero’s job. Part of the character arch of your Main Character is that they have to overcome a challenge. The Antagonist is a manifestation of the challenge that they have to overcome. The Antagonist should reflect the inner challenge that the MC has to overcome in order to evolve in the story.
But I digress.
The sidekick has to be detained, restrained, deranged in some manner so that they do not help the Hero in very last moment of completing the leg. There are of course exceptions, such as when your character’s arch involves becoming a team player. However, generally, the defeating of the Antagonist in the final moment must be a solo act.
Furthermore, the detention of the sidekick also provides further motivation for the MC. Consider The Dark Crystal when Kira is stabbed, which motivates Jen even more to heal the crystal. Or in Aladdin when the carpet is tied in a knot, the monkey is turned into a toy, and Genie has to do the will of Jarfar, which leaves Aladdin to defeat the Antagonist on his own. Even in Practical Magic, despite the fact that there are some 12 other women in the circle at the end, Sally had to overcome her own aversion to Magic (thus, overcoming her inner Antagonist) in order to seek the help of the coven to defeat the Antagonist who was inhabiting her sister, who was also her Sidekick.
This spread is to look at how to go about at least delaying the Sidekick.
Select a card that you feel represents your Side Character and use this as your signifier. This doesn’t necessarily have to represent the character themselves, but perhaps the character arch they are on, or their contribution to the plot in your story.
The first card is going to look at the relationship they have with your MC at the moment of their demise. This doesn’t mean their over all relationship, but rather where they’re at during this particular moment. It could be that the sidekick is your MC’s husband and your MC is mad at him for never remembering to do the things he says he’s going to do. Or it could be that the side character is your MC’s love interest and they’ve just declared their love for one another. Or it could be that your Side Character is actually the Antagonist and the MC has just figured this out (though I suppose that technically, if that were the case, then the demise would be the discovery that the Side Character is the Antagonist).
This is scene where it all happens. This card can represent the actual physical scene, or it can represent the situation during which the all happens.
This is what actually happens, what separates the Sidekick from the MC, however it happens to happen. It could be something dramatic like drinking from the wrong cup and getting poisoned, or something low key, like needing to return to see to their family.
Card 4 is why this incapacitates the Sidekick. The reason for this card is that whatever you draw for Card 3, the reasoning might not be immediately obvious. If nothing else, this card gives more detail to the event.
The fifth card represents the Emotional Impact of departure of the Sidekick for the MC. This is a chance to show complexity of relationships and of your characters. For example, if the Sidekick were leaving for family matters, the MC might feel hurt, even though it’s completely reasonable for the SK to leave. Or they might be happy to be rid of them.
The final card of the spread is what the absence of the SK means in terms of the plot. Do they carry something important with them that now the MC no longer has access to? Were they a crutch for the MC? Or does it mean that the MC can now carry on with greater ease to the climax?
My SK isn’t particularly well developed, as far as her contribution to my MC is. So this might be a bit of a rough reading. However, the card I drew for her initially when I was developing her was the World. This is the card I picked as the Signifier.
For the first card I got the 9 of Swords reversed. I think that when they part they’re going to be on good terms. They’ll have had a rocky start to their relationship, which I’d already planned out, and by the time she has to go, they’ve sorted it out.
I got Justice. I think this is an interesting twist. I think that she’s been caught doing something, and she’s being sentenced. Or she’s at a sentencing. I’m not sure yet. However, given that the Antagonist is the daughter of a Lord who also has a lot to do with the Law of the Land (the Mentor being the Antagonist’s father, and he’ll have already fallen at this point), I think the Antagonist is the one doing the judging and sentencing.
I got the Page of Pentacles reversed. This is a little more difficult. My first reaction was that her demise would be that she gets buried head first, just to be almost completely literal with the card. Though, because there is a coin that is actually lifted out of the Page’s hand, it looks as though he’s losing money upside-down. Thus, I think the sentencing is that there is a massive fine, and she’ll be hung upside-down until it is paid, or until she dies. One or the other.
I go the Magician. In this case, I think the Why has to do with why she’s being sentenced. I think it’s because she had a plan on the go with my MC and they were putting it into action against the Antagonist. She was the one who was caught, but the MC is going to be the one faced with a decision to bail her out. He has the money in his business, and thus, he’ll have to make a choice between sorting her out and his business.
So my MC is kind of selfish. And he is actually considering how sneaky he can be about this, and while he promises that he’ll get her down, he’s considering whether or not he actually does want to take money from the business to save her. Hence, the 7 of Swords that I got for this position.
Perfect. I got the 7 of Wands. My MC is going to have to fight harder. He didn’t realize how much he relied on her, and thus, without her, he has to stand on his own two feet and fight harder. Of course, this will spur his decision to make the right choice and help her out, though he’s essentially making it for the wrong reason.
How is your CampNaNoWriMo going? I know a lot of writers cry when they get to this point, where they have to start destroying their characters. Then there are people like me who just adore it. There is something satisfying about knowing you’re having an emotional impact on the reader. What’s your response to situationation like this?