This week on the Ball we’re talking Friends. Yesterday Deb Joanne rounded up some of her favorite imaginary friends so today I thought I’d share my thoughts on writing friends in our novels.
(Hint: It’s not as easy as it seems.)
But it should be! I mean, we all know how to be a friend, right? We all know why we have the friends we do and what we love about them.
But writing a friend—especially a BEST friend—for your lead character can be oh-so tricky.
For starters, don’t even think of the word “sidekick.” You don’t want your BFF to be a cardboard wing man/woman, only there to make your lead look funnier, sexier, prettier, richer, you get my drift. Your BFF should have her own well-rounded life, her own quirks, her own wants and needs.
BUT! That said, you don’t want your character’s BFF to be so much fun that your reader would sooner spend the story with her than your main character. (Writers: how many times has this happened to you? You write a BFF only to find she’s much more interesting than your lead? Whoops.)
So what makes a good pair of friends on paper (er, or e-book)?
When I write in a friend for a character, I think the key is balance. Like romantic partners, good friends should balance each other. Just look at Anne Shirley and Diana Barry: There’s no question that the two “bosom friends” liked many of the same things (and fellas: We’re lookin’—and swoonin’—at you, Gilbert Blythe!) but their differences were clear and yet, they balanced one another. Diana was not nearly as daring and outspoken as Anne (who could be?!) but her often shy and tentative demeanor made her Anne’s perfect mate.
Or who can forget Cee Cee Bloom and Bertie Barron, the polar opposite besties in Iris Rainer Dart’s tear-jerking Beaches? Night and day don’t even begin to describe these two women and yet their friendships preserves through crushing life challenges.
And of course, no post of mine on BFFs would be complete without a toast to Miles and Jack from Sideways. Miles is as wound up and nervous as Jack is carefree and reckless; but as different as they are, they combine to make for a very believable pair of friends. And when it comes right down to it, the most important rule of writing best friends is to make them believable, and show how they connect, conflict after conflict, page after page.
So who are some of your favorite literary besties?