Helen Cox is a UK author. She made her on-screen debut in The Krankies in 1990. Given the choice, her Mastermind topic would be Grease 2 and when someone asks her if she is a god she says 'yes.' Oh, you want to know about her books? Best click some of the links below.
Let me clarify the ‘should’ in this title. I’m deeply uncomfortable with ‘shoulds’. Don’t really believe in them as a species. But they occasionally make for succinct headlines.
Essentially, based on my own writing experience, I’ve listed seven characters that prove useful when moving narratives forward. In each case, I’ve offered up some potential story suggestions but I’m sure you can think of many more applications for these handy individuals.
I’m not suggesting these characters should all show up in one story. Or that some of them will come as much of a surprise. But isn’t it nice when you’re stuck with your writing to have a quick and easy ‘cheat sheet’ to hand? Just to get you over that little snag you’ve hit. Here’s hoping…
1. A doctor. If your protagonist knows a doctor they can: be patched up when they’ve been shot / stabbed; have access to medical supplies / drugs; be easily evaluated when exhibiting signs of an unbalanced mind; be asked to take part in an experimental study; live, even after being involved in a terrible accident; have their friends / lovers assessed for physical injury / psychological anomalies.
2. A police officer. If your protagonist knows a police officer they can: get arrested with ease; out-smart the cops if they enlist the help of someone on the inside; gain access to criminal records; join in on a criminal investigation; brush shoulders with a wanted criminal; wrestle over hiding whatever crime they’ve committed; gain insight on how to outsmart a criminal mind.
3. A pilot. If your protagonist knows a pilot they can: visit any destination simply by calling in a favour; have a love affair with somebody who is constantly flying off somewhere; escape a state of national emergency; learn how to fly a plane; phone for an emergency rescue when stranded; commandeer a plane with ease for any noble purpose; rescue someone they love who has been stranded.
4. A psychic. More broadly speaking, the psychic character is often the person who brings with them the call to adventure. Usually offering up some kind of news or prophecy which will shake the hero out of their previous routine. If your protagonist happens across a person who is literally psychic then they can: have a prediction made about them that comes true or that they try and make come true; have a prediction made that they try to disprove or turns out to be false; have someone to go to when the path ahead isn’t clear; get connected with people who dabble in related other-worldly stuff like magic; can struggle with the idea of whether or not they make their own destiny.
5. A lawyer. If your protagonist knows a lawyer they can: learn how the justice system works and cheat that to their advantage; learn how to trick or sway a jury; influence the lawyer on a case they’re working on; easily find someone to defend them should they ever be accused of a crime; get away with murder; rifle through the lawyer’s files and find something out about a prominent individual in the community; uncover a conspiracy the lawyer has been hiding.
6. A news reporter. If your protagonist knows a news reporter they can: use their resources to find out about somebody they’re thinking of dating; easily broadcast a message to the world should they ever need to; have articles written about them that boost their career; have articles written about them that destroy their reputation; take part in a journalistic investigation that uncovers some great truth; fall in love with someone who was using them for material / influence.
7. A mysterious benefactor. Oh I can almost feel you rolling your eyes at this one. But hear me out. I don’t necessarily mean that your protagonist has to be friends with some cheesy millionaire – although if done with a little irony I don’t see anything wrong with that. When crafting a story, I tend to write what I call my ‘Raggedy-Ann’ characters. Probably because I have a lot more experience at being poor than being rich and, in some stories, it’s nice to see a little bit of literal wealth come the way of these people. I think the benefits of having a bit of money tucked under the mattress are well-understood so I won’t list possible stories for this one. I’ll just say, if it’s good enough for Dickens, it seems to me it’s good enough for anyone else.
BONUS: I’m writing this as a bonus suggestion as some people might not want to involve religious ideas in their stories. That’s a choice each writer must make for themselves. But I’ll say that a priest or some other religious figure is a useful person for your protagonist to know. The general question of faith is an interesting one. Not just in a God but in life, people, corporations and even religious organisations themselves, and having an expert on such matters sauntering around your story somewhere can be helpful. If nothing else, spiritual figures are often keen to counsel and advise. Something that one or more of your characters might need at some point.
If you have any more suggestions for useful people our protagonists should know, please post them in the comments section below!