Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Putting the kick in sidekick

Secondary characters should never be wallpaper.
When Cheree at Justified Lunacy said she was hosting the Sidelines Blogfest for scenes that highlight a secondary character, I had to sign on. I have a character in mind that is a favorite, but I may choose another to challenge myself.
Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" created some of the most memorable sidekicks ever. I mean, how can you argue with that if you think about these characters: Willow, Xander, Giles, Cordelia, Faith, Angel, Spike, Tara, Anya. Each of them unique and fascinating as they walk the line between what's right and wrong, what's real and not.
Voice. They had it. If you've never watched this show, please give yourself a treat. Hilarious, heartbreaking, witty and terrifying. And, actually, deep, if you care to muse on it. Here, I'll give you a few snippets from Buffy. These are from various episodes so you won't be following a story line, just hearing their different voices:
Absalom: :"Your day is done, girl. I'll grind you into a sticky paste..."
Buffy: "So, are you gonna kill me? Or are you just making small talk?"
Cordelia: "I am, of course, having my dress specially made. Off-the-rack gives me hives."
Giles: "Buffy, I believe the subtext here is rapidly becoming text."
Xander: "Calm may work for Locutus of Borg here, but I'm freaked and I intend to stay that way."
Buffy: "Vampires are creeps."
Giles: "Yes, that's why one slays them."
Angel: "This isn't some fairy tale. When I kiss you, you don't wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after."
Buffy: "When you kiss me, I want to die."
After Angel changes back to evil with a specific agenda aimed at Buffy:
Buffy: "It's so weird...Every time something like that happens, my first instinct is to run and tell Angel. I can't believe it's the same person. He's the complete opposite of what he was."
Willow: "Well...sort of, except..."
Buffy: "Except what?"
Willow: "You're still the only thing he thinks about."
Sign up for this fest. Show your sidekicks some love. Goes live July 8. And if blogfest fun and camaraderie isn't enough, Cheree is offering a $15 gift certificate to a randomly chosen winner among followers who participate in the fest.
Lydia Kang has given me this pretty award. Thank you! But really, her blog is uber-cool. Every Monday she dispenses answers to questions about medical issues that crop up in your stories. And this week's topic is as cool as it gets.
Also a big thank you to Stephanie Thornton for the Beautiful Blogger award and the wonderfully kind words that went with it. Since I've received it before, the button is in the sidebar.
And a heads-up to watch for on an interview with Gayle Brandeis on her latest book, DELTA GIRLS, which I'm going to post soon.
And, hey, if you care to share a favorite Buffy sidekick moment, please do! I never tire of them.


Tere Kirkland said...

Awesome contest! I agree, Buffy has some of the best sidekicks. What I liked about Whedon's Firefly series was that none of the characters felt like a sidekick, or a side character. They each had a story to tell.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

What a fun post! I love the snippets you shared from Buffy and her pals. You're right - they are full of voice! :-)

Char said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Char said...

Huge Buffy fan here...HUGE. I think if the youth of today had been around when Buffy was new - they would be asking Edward who? This is why I dislike the Twilight series sooo much - the girl of that series is such a whimp compared to Buffy, Willow and Anya.

And Whedon always brings the clever doesn't he? I loved Firefly too.

Phoenix said...

Hah! Great timing - I was over at Eric's Digging With Worms blog a few days ago and he mentioned supporting characters and of course I had to mention Willow as one of the best supporting characters of all time. She was the heart of that show, that witchy girl.

Buffy had an entire slew of well-developed side characters that constantly challenged (lovingly or otherwise) Buffy's motives, ideals, and personality. I miss that show so much, but I have faith that Joss is gonna make another BTVS or Firefly one of these days.

::fingers crossed::

Angela Ackerman said...

You know it's funny, but sometimes my secondaries end up being 'break out sidekicks' and so fun to write. I think because there's a little less pressure knowing they are not the lead, and I can go full speed on voice and not get too caught up in making sure everything else is a perfect mesh.

Not saying secondaries don't require work, but it's different when you know the story doesn't rest fully on their shoulders I think.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Tere: Exactly! That's why his characters are so memorable, each one is fleshed out.

Shannon: They really do, and I could see it even more clearly as I typed in the words. They speak differently, and each comes from a perspective that is unique.

Char: Yeah, I like my heroines with spunk and smarts, even if they have to suffer as they grow. Whedon always delivers.

Phoenix: That's amazing--I love when things happen in conjunction that way. I did pick the Willow cover on purpose. Some of the other characters had wittier dialogue, but she went through such a transformation.
Oh, I crave another Whedon show. I've got all the Buffy and Firefly DVDs, but I'd love a new story, too.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Angela: Wow, that's an interesting comment. I hadn't thought about the freeing aspect of writing sidekicks, but you're quite right.

Nicole said...

Ooooh I LOVE buffy - watching re-runs while editing at the moment *lol*

Andrea Cremer said...

Fantastic post, Tricia. Go Buffy!!!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I've never seen this show, but enjoyed your dialogue clips. yes, important to remember the sidekicks. good topic for a blogfest!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

*waves at Andrea* Buffy forever.

TerryLynn: It's so hard to describe this show to people who haven't seen it, because the first reaction a lot of people have is it must be vampire-cult-sillinessTV. But it really is smartly written and funny with all kinds of depth despite the many monsters.

Suzanne Casamento said...

You are SO right! Buffy's secondary characters have awesome voices. Now I want to watch re-runs!!!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Nicole! Hi, somehow your comment slipped past me and my comment email is also acting up and didn't forward it. But watching reruns while editing!!! That's a skill. ;)

Suzanne: Yay, everyone's watching reruns. Why am I not???

Unknown said...

How sad is it that I never watched Buffy? I saw the movie, but never the series.

*lowers head in shame*

Wen Baragrey said...

Oh Karen, you SO have to watch it! I didn't until it was out on DVD and I've watched it over and over since!

You picked the perfect examples of sidekicks, Tricia. I can't think of any better than the Scooby gang. I could never decide who was my favorite! My friends and I used to argue over which of the gang was most like each of us, and the cool thing was -- no matter which character someone thought you were most like, you were always thrilled. Says a lot about those characters, I think!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Karen! No shame, but, really, give it a chance. I hope you'll love it like I do (and apparently a bunch of the others, too)

Wen: They are the ultimate sidekicks. I hadn't thought about it a lot before this post, but I think that was one reason the show was so good--because each character was so developed and unique. I love your anecdote!

Donna said...

Good reminder on sidekicks. I totally agree with you on Buffy & Co. Love them all.

Congrats on your latest awards.

Dawn Ius said...

It's taken me a long time to love my sidekicks and sometimes they still get lost in the shuffle. Thanks for reminding me to give them some love :-)

VR Barkowski said...

Since I'm writing a trilogy and the MCs in one book become SKs in the others, I will be paying close attention to the upcoming fest.

Loved Buffy - fabulous dialogue!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: Thanks. They are all memorable, aren't they?

Dawn: It's hard to keep track of them all, but it adds depth when they are well drawn. Someone suggested having journal entries for each, so you can get to know them individually. I haven't tried it yet but plan to.

VR: Ooooo, that's intriguing about your trilogy. I hope you join in the fest, and I'm always so excited to find another Buffy lover.

PJ Hoover said...

A great post, Tricia! I am getting better at remembering to not ignore those secondary characters. Someday it will be second nature :)

Davin Malasarn said...

I love secondary characters. I've always been the type to really appreciate the second best, and sometimes it annoys me that I have to care about my main characters!

Congratulations on the awards, Tricia!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

PJ: *waves* Hi and thanks! The more I write, the more I learn, for sure.

Davin: I'm with you on that--sometimes I have way more fun with the sidekicks than the MC, who has to carry the weight of the world and all. ;)

Talli Roland said...

Pretty award! :) Congrats!

Anna Staniszewski said...

I'm not sure how it's possible but my husband has never seen an episode of Buffy. Your post reminded me of how amazing that show was. I will sit him down and make him watch it if it kills me!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Talli: Thanks, sweetie.

Anna: Oh my, I'm glad you're going to remedy that. :D

Hannah said...

Sigh. I love Buffy.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Hannah: I can't imagine the world without Joss & Buffy. I never seem to tire of watching them again, either.