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Short Stories: March 08, 2023 Issue [#11830]

 This week: Right-Hand Man Trope
  Edited by: Annette
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Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

"I just watched so many Westerns as a kid that you end up using archetypes and sort of tropes of that genre, because there's a language there and you can twist it and turn it on its head or play to it or go sideways at any time." - Gore Verbinski

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Letter from the editor

Right Hand Man Trope

The right-hand man trope is in all actuality a gender-neutral term to define the character who is the most important to a story's main character. As such, the right-hand man is not the leader of the group. Right-hand man is there to take over when the leader is off doing leader things. Often, the right-hand man's job held by the big guy or by the lancer. Both of these have further qualifications in a team, that is why we keep them apart as different tropes.

When the right-hand man is the lancer of a five-man band, then the job consists of providing contrast to the leader. Be it by complementing the leader's skills, or by speaking up against the leader whenever needed. Or whenever the lancer feels like it. When the big guy is the second in command, the role is to be the one who enforces whatever the leader wants enforced. In military fiction, the right-hand man will usually be something akin to a first mate. Someone right below the captain.

Teams can be made up of good guy hero types or bad guy villain types. The role of the second in command is pliable enough to fill either type.

A good guy second in command might be even more ethical than the leader and find ways to make the leader's wishes come to fruition while inserting an extra measure of good guy helpfulness.

The villain second in command can be the final obstacle for a team who wants to reach the evil leader. Once this second in command is overcome, capturing the leader is easier.

One benefit to using the second in command for short stories is that this type of character is easily recognizable. Using this trope saves word count that is needed to advance the plot and story to keep the story short. A lot of actions, opinions, or short amounts of world building backstory can easily be told by inserting small tidbits of the relationship between the leader and the right-hand man.

Have you ever thought of making the second in command the main character?

Editor's Picks

 The Mentor and the Scholar  (E)
Story about Marcus Tullius Cicero
#2291442 by Igor Skoglund

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#2291422 by Not Available.

Baphomet Rises  (18+)
A young Jesuit tells his story of an expulsion ceremony.
#2291413 by Tegs

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#2291376 by Not Available.

The Writer's Cramp  (13+)
Write the best STORY or POEM in 24 hours or less and win 10K GPs!
#333655 by Sophy

Billy and the Valentine Tree  (E)
A little tykes tale [written for Special Rd of I Challenge...Jeopardy, 2/2023]
#2291284 by Soldier_🎶_Mike

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#2291271 by Not Available.

After that I knew I had done sth wrong  (E)
A Flash Fiction (96 words)
#2291265 by Evie123

 Nobody Likes a Spoiler  (13+)
Treasure Hunts and Strategies - Words: 644
#2291176 by Thankful Sonali WDC POWER RVW!

The Author  (E)
Short story about where the idea comes from
#2291019 by L.A. Grawitch

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Word from Writing.Com

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Ask & Answer

Replies to my last Short Stories newsletter "Short Story, Preface, or First Chapter? that asked: Have you written any short stories that were really the first chapter of a novel?

buddhangela's a Crow Girl wrote: I'm actually coming at this all backwards. I only ever wrote novels or novellas before coming to WdC, and I've found it an unexpected challenge to write shorter fiction. So yes, I've set aside most of my unfortunate short story attempts to rewrite as longer fiction "later." They might become novels, it depends on my muse. Some of the stories might only need another 5-10K words to flesh out enough to make them feel better about them.

Paul wrote: I’m a fan of Tobias Wolfe too. He is a master of short story form and I want to emulate him.
Yeah, I’ve written several good first chapters and many central chapters, but I don’t know how to make them a novel. My problem is I don’t think the idea for the story can carry 75 to 100 thousand words. I don’t have the confidence that I could do it. I may just stick with short form and quit worrying about novels.
Thank you for this post, I enjoyed reading it, as well as many others. This is a marvelous site to have found. I love the way it’s so tightly monitored.

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