I've had this thought for a while and I wondered if other writers had it too. Should your character have a best friend? Do they need a companion on their quest? I think they do, and I wanted to share some tips on how to figure out if the relationship feels real.
Does the friendship feel fake or forced. Why does the friendship work? Harry and Ron not only have a lot of things in common (love quidditch, not super-dedicated students, usually dislike the same subjects, love quidditch, have same opinions on many magical matters such as muggles, love fast quidditch brooms), but they also have common experiences. They have history together. They share detentions and adventures, laughs and losts. They have their quarrels–moments where they even hate each other–but they stick by each other. They are loyal and honest, and share a lot of the same view on life. (Think: could Harry and Ron be as close of friends if Ron was big on the pureblood only thing?)
Friendship example #2: Amanda and Marc from Ugly Betty
While these two are both shallow, their friendship is not. They have common interests and views on life–both conspiring to humiliate Betty and sabotage her work. They both help each other out: Amanda pretends to be Marc’s girlfriend when his mother’s around to help him hide that he’s gay, and he takes personal risks to help protect her job from Wilhelmina. The two are often mischievous and have the same train of thought (while others around them might thing it is stupid), even placing a prank phone calls.
GROUND RULES OF HOW TO WRITE A BEST FRIEND:
1. Friendship is a two-way street. Show the reader how the protag can give just as much as he/she takes in the friendship. The secondary character should find themselves in a pinch so the protag can help them out–even if it’s just carrying their lame-o science fair project to the car or picking up their dry cleaning.
2. Give the bestie an outside life. What do they do when the protag isn’t around? What outside dreams and goals do they have that takes them outside the protags life? Make that life go on when the bestie character isn’t on the page.
3. Make sure your protag is reliable when it comes to the bestie. If they let the bestie down, that is grounds for a friendly fight.
4. Friendship is just as much about the downs as the ups. Friends fight–and life goes on. It’s okay for your besties to have a little argument or for one character to feel resentful of the other.
5. Make the friendship honest. Yeah, best friends really should lie to each other. But this is more than that. By fleshing out the best friend, you get more complexities in the relationship. And when that happens, you have a friendship that feels real and honest to the reader.
6. Give thoughtful advice/listen. While it’s great that the protag goes and talks to her bestie, she also needs to return the favor. Give at least one moment where the best friend can share the problems they face. Everyone has problems, and most of the time they don’t relate to what the main character is going through. Make it unique, like a teacher gave them extra homework because their cell rang in class, they failed a test, or they had a fight with their mom over loud music. This can also tie back to how the protag can give back to the friend.
How do you create awesome relationships between your characters? Let me know your process in the comments below!