Tuesday, November 10, 2009


We've had some great discussion on Enemies/Villians. Let's turn our attention to Allies.

Allies, friends, sidekicks. Typically, we have all these things in our story. They help the Heroine.

Allies come and go. Friends come and go. Sidekicks pretty much stay with the Hero. These characters can provide help, companionship, wisdom and humor.

In my WIP, Akeela has several friends. Not sure if any of them qualify for the type of sidekick we usually think of. There's Anon (a faun who is mentally challenged), Hawk (the boy she ends up falling in love with) and Hawk's cousins (a boy and a girl.) They all travel with her until the very end when she has to spend some time alone.

Allies can also band together to form a team, which I've done with Akeela.

I also have fairies, who are under the antagonist's (Tzmet) spell. They are enemies who mascarade as allies. This ends up causing a rift between Akeela and Hawk, which is the ulimate cause of Akeela falling into the Moon Dancer world. Which is not a good thing. Which is a good thing ... for tension. HA!

How important are allies, friends and sidekicks? How are you using them in your stories?
Let's talk!


  1. Danielle

    Allies are invaluable -- just like a real friend in real life. They keep the hero going, keep the humor up, and there is no doubt that the hero couldn't make it without them.

    Like in LOTR, Frodo would have been Spider food if not for Sam; if Pippin hadn't thrown the rock into the water at the freaky dwarf place they even freakier dwarf-eating thing wouldn't have chased them into Khasa Doom (I know I spelled it wrong; I need to read the books again) The story would have been none existent.

    More and more I'm reading new fantasy where the hero gets past a sustain stage and doesn't need anyone. The allies are just THERE ... for NO REASON! We have lost sight of something so important -- especially in this 'Me Solo' age! The allies make up for the the hero doesn't have. In fact, if they were the ones with the (ring, responsibility, etc) THEY would be the heroes! They mold our characters into what they must be.

    Not that the hero can't be heroic :)

    Do you think we should make it like in LOTR? The journey impossible without faithful friends?

  2. I think friends and allies are important in fantasy stories, and maybe even more in Christian fantasy.

    One of the misconceptions of the world is that we can do it by ourselves. If I just try hard enough or search deep enough within myself, I will find the power to overcome all the obstacles.

    The Christian message is different. We need God. We can't do it on our own. Without God's grace we will fail.

    The question is how do we show this other view in our stories. Friends and allies are one way. God brings people into our lives to help us. God gives us gifts to help each other. We may not have God directly acting in our stories, but we can show how God brought together the right people.

    In my WIP Annay has several friends who keep her going, point her in the right direction, catch her when she falls, and use their own gifts to support her as she becomes the hero.

    Hector is a man of God. It is obvious how God is using him in both his words and actions. When he prays to heal someone, God's power flows through him.

    Tom on the other hand is a simple man. You can tell he knows about God, but his actions are subtle. He is there with a kind word, a shoulder to cry on, and a sword to watch her back.

    Samuel teaches her how to control her emotions, how to keep hate from over powering her. He has wisdom.

    Mrs. Jenkens has trod the path that Annay is walking. She has compassion and love, and is not afraid to show it.

    Without all of these friends, Annay would fail in her quest. Each adds something of themselves to her journey.

  3. I'm not sure if I should make my allies more or less important. I need to make sure that it is the Main Character who is the hero. For me, I have to ask myself: Who's story is this; why is it their story; and are they the real hero.

    A few times (at least once, anyway) I have changed the Main Character simply because the side character was more interesting and played a bigger role.

    I don't know if anyone here watches LOST but that show has great characters. They each have a role they have to fulfill, and are there for more than just to keep the Main Character going.

    I should maybe try making the side characters less important.

    I have also noticed in some stories there are too many allies who play the same role. In LOTR they each have their own role they play eventually. In newer fiction I sometimes get confused with who's Billy, who's Bobby, and what in the world are their points?! They both are the comforter/ companion. Sometimes I have to combine characters, and most of the time it's a good thing because instead of a human paper cut-out, here's this really awesome individual!

  4. Mr. Clarke:

    I think it's great that they each have their own job! Good going.

  5. We do have to keep a tight rein on our secondary characters or they will take over. But I think if another character is more interesting than the hero, we should rethink who the main character really is.

    I agree with Danielle about Doug's characters each having a part in the hero's journey. Isn't that true of real life?

    I also think it's important to have friends help our heroes make it to the end. We don't live in a vacuum, and Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

    In the next novel I'm planning, my theme is strength. But it's not strength in the way the hero thinks of it. He will learn strength sometimes comes in leaning on a friend.

  6. I have something of an ensemble cast because, like the LOTR example, secondary characters both provide comic relief and move the plot along. I made one secondary character a main character (so now I have two) because

    a) he is present for much of the action that the other character misses, and so she (and the reader) would only hear about it secondhand, which is boring, and

    b) much of the conflict with him is internal, so unless you know what he's thinking, you don't really understand why he's doing it. I think it has opened the story up much more to the reader and added a lot of depth, to be able to get inside his head.

  7. Since my work is more "the history of this imaginary world" than "the story of such-and-such a character," and I have entirely too many characters (over 200) each of whom has his or her own story that I could tell (though I haven't gotten to most of those stories yet even in the sparsest of outlines), I pretty much have to have an ensemble cast.

    Also, in the one novel draft that I got a long way into before realizing this, I had picked my one obviously invincible character as my protagonist. Switching him to the role of an ally and a major character into the role of protagonist resulted in a much better story, I think, because as an ally I can have something urgent pull him away at what turns out to be a critical moment.

  8. Yes, there are times when we need to switch our cast of characters around. Depends on what the story requires. A wise author will be willing to let that happen.