Characters Have Friends

Just as in real life, our characters do not walk alone. At least interesting ones don’t. They must have someone they care about, someone to share ideas with, someone to go places with.

Friendships are developed over time, and if well-founded, can survive illness, an argument, and even separations caused by time and place.

Some people believe that you are who you are with, so choose friends for appearance, for stature, for success. For example, a teen who wants to be popular will seek out popular kids and attempt to befriend them. A business woman who wants a job in the tech field, will associate with other techies.

Your character’s world must be populated with friends as well as potential friends. A story in which interpersonal interactions are casual meetings, is an in-your-head story and might not be too appealing. The pace would be slow and tedious.

We must have conflict. Not punches and beatings, but words that force characters out of their shells and to face the situations that arise. Friends help to accomplish this.

For example, a middle grade student hates his teacher and so talks back and disrupts class. He ends up hanging with the tough kids, those that regularly defy authority. Imagine the trouble that ensues as the student finds himself more and more enmeshed in this group.

Your task is to take one of your stories and add in a close friendship. First decide the purpose of the relationship. Is it to become a love interest? A daring-do combative contest? A study partner with equal interests in college?

Once you’ve defined the purpose, then think about how the relationship factors into the story. Does the friend push the protagonist to new heights or drag him down? Does the friend want something out of the relationship that maybe the protagonist isn’t interested in at this time?

Rework your story, adding in the friend. Something has to happen. They have a fight or fall in love. They design new apps for cell phones or open an antique business. They go on a vacation together or rent an apartment.

Make things happen that drive the story along and add interest.

When you are finished, think about what has happened. Does the friendship enrich the story? Why or why not? If not, then go back and rewrite until it does.

Just remember that friendships count in the fiction world as well as in real life.

Have fun with this one.

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