What would heroes be without their sidekicks? Well, they probably wouldn't be alive. Statistics show that heroes without sidekicks are more likely to die before they reach age thirty than heroes with sidekicks.... But enough of the statistics! The point is, that the sidekick is a very important character in a story. Not only does he provide comic relief, but he is also always there to rescue the hero when he gets in too deep. And, let's face it, they always do!
Sidekicks generally get the shaft in a story. I mean, think about it. They don't get the girl, they don't get the spotlight, they don't usually get the looks, they get beat around, used against the hero, you name it. They might get a laugh here and there, but what good is that for your poor sidekick? Since they don't get any of that good stuff, they at least need to get something to eat every once in a while. This is one main reason that in books and especially movies, you usually come to the conclusion that the sidekick is a compulsive eater. This is not true at all, in fact, he probably eats no more than than normal person does, it's just that he's the only one who has TIME to stuff his face. One thing that bothers me in books and movies is when they can go the whole time and NOT EAT ANYTHING! How can they live???? In truth, your sidekick is supposed to be the one to shove food down the hero's throat when he's too busy to think about himself. Your aim as an author is to make your characters seem human. You might know to give them flaws, but did you know that a common and very underused flaw is a grumbly tummy? If your characters don't eat, what are they? Vampires? (oh, there goes that "almost" reference again, bad, bad Hazel ;-) For masters at eating scenes, read Brian Jacques' Redwall books and John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice books. These have eating scenes so good you'll be hungry.
Anyway...moving on. Sidekicks have the toughest jobs in your plot. It's not only a sidekick's job to see his hero gets fed, but also to watch his back. This includes making sure the baddie doesn't stab him in the back, making sure he doesn't get in with the wrong girl (for some reason sidekicks are more attuned to the female kind than heroes often are) and even sometimes rescuing the hero.
Now, sidekicks do not always go unrewarded. That is what sequels are for, my dear writers! Sequels, those books where your hero has his girl, his enemy is dead, and where does that leave the plot line??? Open for the sidekick, of course! Reward your sidekick for how wonderfully he put up with the hero, doing his cooking and laundry and tending his wounds when his bonnie lass wasn't there to do it for him, and give him the plot of the second book. Give him a chance to be the hero and get that brave man a girl! (That is, if he's that brave) If you don't want to write a sequel, well, be prepared for some nagging and sleepless nights.
So, I hope that after this you will all think of your sidekicks in a better light. You know you always loved them, but love them more. Remember, to your heroes, the sidekick is the hero! Or at least he should be, otherwise you might just have to have a talk with that hero of yours!
By the way, Mr. Pepys is looking for more entries into his advice column! Don't let my nosey characters get a chance to put them in!!!