Fictional friendships are important.
How do you ensure that these ring true?
I’ve already shared a post about writing romance, but romantic relationships aren’t the only type that need attention – in reality, or in our stories.
It’s worth considering that, in the context of a story, we will often tend to focus upon maybe one to three close friendships.
This is fine. But it’s also useful to keep in mind that our main characters will generally have a wider friendship circle, of some description. It can sometimes be beneficial to include a name or reference here and there, in order to reflect this.
When developing a friendship, consider the backstory – the history behind the friendship.
My main character, Lucy, has been best friends with Charlotte since primary school. As well as going to school together, they used to be neighbours. This does mean that they have a great deal of shared history. Yet, they have also grown apart, in many respects. By the end of the novel, Charlotte isn’t Lucy’s exclusive “best friend” in quite the same way. At the same time, that shared history will always be there – and that would be the case, even if the friendship ended.
Think about the “why” behind the friendship.
There are usually multiple reasons. In the case of Lucy and Charlotte, obviously they would have become friends partly due to circumstances – because they lived so close to each other, and went to school together. So, yes – the met at school, through work, or at the local chess club, part is always going to be there.
But then there will be other factors, including shared interests, shared secrets, a similar sense of humour – or, going deeper, the same core values. Maybe the friends are actually opposites, in many respects? Which can be good or bad – or a bit of both.
All friendships have their ups and downs, and this definitely needs to be reflected.
In some stories, it will be a major plot point, or a subplot – but, even if it isn’t, it should ideally be communicated, to some degree. No friendship is perfect, after all. The problems and misunderstandings are part of what makes the relationship feel realistic. In this way, hopefully, your reader will be able to relate, and being able to relate leads to caring.
Make sure that your friend characters are fully developed in themselves, and not simply “sidekicks”, with no other obvious role in life.
They need to have their own lives, and not everything they do will be about their friend, even if said friend happens to be your protagonist.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to create believable friendships in your fiction. You might even start to envy your fictional characters, for having such strong friendships. That’s a good sign, because it shows that you believe in your own characters, and can feel the strength of their friendships.