Walking into town on Tuesday to meet a friend for lunch I started thinking about how important friends are not only in real life but in fiction too. There are all kinds of friends, from the ones that stick by you through the good times and bad; the friends you don’t speak to very often but when you do it feels like no time at all has passed; the friends who have drifted apart; and the friends that you’ve known since you were a kid. In fiction the main character’s friends can play a vital role to the story. The role of friend is a great fictional device – they can be someone the main character can talk to, argue with, confide in, go on an adventure with, be divided from or even fall in love with.
Meeting up with my friend after six months and catching up on all that’s happened in that time got me thinking about my new WIP and the fact that I’ve not yet figured in a friend for my main character, someone she can confide in when she suddenly finds herself on her own and out of her depth in a country she doesn’t yet know. (My new WIP is going to be set in Tanzania and Zanzibar.)
In my novel The Butterfly Storm my main character, Sophie, has a best friend who, although divided by physical distance, is someone she trusts and can confide in when there’s no one else to talk to. Friends (and enemies) play an even more important role in my children’s novel, Time Shifters, where my main character, Maisie, goes off on an adventure in search of her best friend who is caught up with an army. The only trouble is Maisie has to share her adventure with Lizzie, the school bully and someone who she considers to be far from a friend.
Whatever genre of novel, whether fantasy, children’s or chick-lit, fiction is filled with characters whose role is that of friend and confidant. In Lord of the Rings it’s Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee that accompanies Frodo on his quest to destroy the One Ring at Mount Doom. Ron and Hermione are as integral to the story as Harry himself is in the Harry Potter books, while contemporary women’s fiction wouldn’t be the same without its carefully crafted friendships where characters can share their hopes, dreams and innermost thoughts with a best mate.
Just as in real life friendships in fiction can be complicated affairs with relationships between friends falling apart over the smallest of things or managing to survive the worst of times. Friends can impart invaluable advice or set your main character on the wrong path. So, this coming week my quest will be to decide on the friendships my main character in my new WIP is going to discover and the impact they will have on her during her time in Tanzania and Zanzibar.
How about you, do friends and friendships play an important part in your writing?