Today, we are going to look at the confidante character, next week we’re going to look at killing off you characters and then that will be it for our character themed last few months. I haven’t figured out what the next couple of weeks are going to look like after that, but I have a funny feeling it’s going to be Halloween themed.
*** I have some videos linked to this post as examples, that have mature content, some nudity and coarse language. Please keep that in mind when you get to them and if that’s not your jam don’t watch them. I’ll try to warn you before the videos with those viewer discretions to them.***
So, let’s dig into the confidante character with our definition:
Confidant Character: is a character the protagonist confides in and trusts.
I know it’s a super simple definition, but these guys are super important to your protagonist and the story line. They play an important part in creating or highlighting your themes and plot line of your story.
Confidant characters are never the main character in the story. They’re always there as a support to the main character. This type of character is the main characters sounding board, secret keeper, crutch in the hard times, moral compass, and usually a best friend and/or lover. The confidant doesn’t even need to be human. They can be an animal or an object – think Wilson from Cast Away. Above all, they ALWAYS have the main character’s back.
Besides their function as an adviser or a listener, they can provide comic relief as seen here in this Deadpool clip: [Warning: mature content and lots of swearing.]
Your confidant characters can add to the themes by either trying to persuade the main character from their task or ideals – for their own good – by reminding them that there is a cost for their actions. They make sure they don’t stray from their path too far and they give them a pep talks, as well. [Warning on the Batman vs Superman clip: nudity.]
Now, confidant characters are generally flat or stock characters in their nature. They’re there as support and are generally not main characters. So, as a result, they can be stereotypical and uninteresting. They’re there to serve a function and that’s it. Our feelings towards them are generally positive because they care and are interested in the well-being of the main character.
They also get the main character out of their heads. It can get boring just reading about what your main character is thinking all the time. I, personally, can find this to be frustrating to read if it’s overbearing and goes on for pages. I will lose interest. When a character verbalizes these thoughts to someone else it’s more interesting. They have more pauses and breaks that make those huge paragraphs less daunting to get through. Plus, you’re given a chance to hear about someone else’s perspective on the issue.
I don’t want you to get he confidant character confused with the sidekick. The sidekick is a subordinate of the main character. They are directly involved in the conflict happening within the story. The confidant is not going to be in the thick of everything. If they do happen to be involved in a conflict with the main character, it’s because they were kidnapped as bait to get the hero there or for information on the main character. They’re just going to be sitting tied up in a chair until the hero saves them. They’re rarely going to be involved in the fight or the action.
The confidant character is not just found in superhero movies. They’re found in every genre. In romance, it’s going to be a family member or a best friend that the person falling in love is going to talk to. In a mystery, horror. or suspense novel, you’re going to see them confide in the police or an expert in whatever problem that’s afflicting them.
You can have more than one confidant per character. Harry Potter, for example, has Dumbledore, Hermione, Ron, etc. to confide his troubles to. Harry can go to different characters for different problems in his life. He goes to Ron for girl problems, Hermione with school, and Dumbledore for anything Voldemort related. In the Bride Quartet Series by Nora Roberts, we have the one character Emma being able to talk over her relationship problems with her family, predominately her mom, and her friends. Both avenues have different advice and perspectives that they can offer her to help resolve her problems.
Did I mention stereotypes? Well, this character has a lot of them and, unfortunately, there’s not going to be a lot of wiggle room to change them based upon their function within your story. A lot of the time you’ll see these characters as being wise men or women, the best friend, a close family member, the main characters lover/love interest, the complete stranger that they feel strangely comfortable with, the complete weirdo whose advice ends up to the right thing, etc. With all that said, you can’t really change these character types too much; however, I still think you should try to break those stereotypes as much as you can.
So how are we going to write amazing confidant characters into our stories? Here are my tips:
- Give them a bit of a backstory. It gives the reader a bit of a connection with the character. It will also give you an idea about who this character is going to be without the protagonist around.
- Give them a personality and make them believable. Like I said in my last post, you need to round out a flat character a little bit or you can make your confidant into a round character. Do what you want with them, but make sure they’re going to stick out a bit and that your audience can relate to them. Plus your confidant needs to have a life of their own and shouldn’t be there for every crisis for your main character – the protagonist does need to figure some things out for themselves.
- Let him or her support your main character. That’s what their function is. That’s why they’re in the story. So don’t overdevelop them or under develop them. They don’t need to be fleshed out to the point that your main character is, but an effort should be made.
- They’re not here to compete with your main character. They are going to lack qualities or abilities that your main character is going to have. Remember they are there to support the main character.
- Don’t overdo it. You don’t need to have several people telling your hero what to do or for your hero to tell their woes to. At this point you’ll just have to have a bunch of characters that don’t have a lot to do with furthering your plot or themes. Plus, it can get confusing for the reader as they try to keep everyone straight. Your confidant(s) should be there for a reason – not just because.
- Give them a special skill or ability that your main character doesn’t have. You can incorporate this into the confidants backstory or it can be the reason why the main character and confidant meet. Make sure it serves a purpose to the relationship between the characters and to your story. This Writers Helping Writers article explains this a bit more thoroughly and gives a good example for this type of character.
- Break the stereotypes! Have them give horrible advice that your main character takes. Or have your confidant character grow into a more prominent character. Try to put a twist on what we come to expect of this type of character.
That’s what I have for you this week. I just did want to link to this Writers Write article on confidant characters. I think it was well done and it could be another resource you can use. As I said at the beginning of today’s post we’re looking at killing off your carefully crafted characters next week. So, tune in for that.
Until next week!
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