Friends in books and movies aren't as bad as families, but they still have their problems. That's what we'll be talking about in this post. Welcome to part two of writing relationships, which is all about writing good friendships. If you missed the first part on family, you can read it here.
In novels, I notice a lot of times that people claim to be friends, but then then back-stab each other or are only friends with people for their own gain. This isn't a friend, it's a frenemy.
Fake friends hurt one another. They tear each other down. They talk behind each other's backs and steal one another's boyfriends (or girlfriends if they're boys). When we fill our books with friendships like these, no wonder we see such problems in our society. Like the saying goes- "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"
False friends do have a place in fiction. Don't we all love a good betrayal by someone the hero trusted? (I'm looking at you, Hans.) Yeah, we hate the character, but it can be an excellent plot twist. Be careful not to use it just for the shock factor. False friends should be used with care.
Now for a few examples of fake friends. These examples will show you how you can properly use a false friend, which is often as a mirror for the protagonist.
• Luke Castellan from The Lightning Thief. Luke is a great example of someone who let his bitterness twist him. He pretends to be a friend to the kids at Camp Half Blood to get what he wants, which is revenge on his godly father, Hermes.
• Hans from Frozen. I remember being in disbelief the first time I watched Frozen and learned that Hans, who was super awesome, was the bad guy. This is excellent use of the false friend. He has great motivation, plus it highlights Anna's flaw of naivety.
True friends are people who are there for you when you need them most. They support you and love you. They're someone you can laugh and cry with, or tell your secrets to, because you know they would never tell. Those are the signs of a real friend.
Let's start filling our writing with more good, solid friendships. No matter if it's a best friend or just a someone you know well, we should show the world what true friends look like. Friends treat one another with respect and trust.
The world already has enough back-stabbing "friends" in it, we don't need to add more just because. A real friend can be a great asset in any sort of book, from realistic fiction to sci-fi. Give your hero someone he or she can rely on and trust.
• The Kingdom Keepers from The Kingdom Keepers. Reason number one I love these books is because it's all about Disney. Reason number two is for the kids. At first, their group is a reluctant pairing, but as the books go along, they become great friends. They're always supporting each other, laughing together, and letting each other shine.
• Mia and Lily from The Princess Diaries. These two are the best of friends. They can tell each other anything. When they fight, they make up, and they're always there for each other (Lily has some of the best lines in the film when defending Mia). Both are weird and neither of them care. They are an amazing friend pair.
Deciding on Friends
When writing a novel, your protagonist will probably be friends with people. It's up to you to decided what sorts of people and why you chose them. Most of the time, you'll probably pick to fill your novel with good friends. Excellent choice.
But there are times as well you may wish to use a false friend. Be careful when choosing that and make sure to show them the right way. Maybe they were nice at first, but don't let readers love them even after they betray the hero. Show what the real consequences are of hurting someone. Hint: it's not we all become friends afterwords and everything goes back the way it was.
And don't forget to add different levels of friends. We all have best friends, good friends, and friends that we only see once in a while. Or those people that are above acquaintance but not quite a friend either. Try to have a variety of friends in your novel, if you can. If not, at least make sure your protagonist has one or more good friends.
A word on Cliques
YA novels are often full of cliques as well. If you're thinking of using one in your novel, think carefully about why. Is it to show how bad they are? Then go ahead and do so. But if it's because you think it's cool and trendy, maybe you should rethink.
Most of the time, cliques are groups of people who only care about being popular and like having the power to exclude others. Maybe there are good cliques out there, but I've never heard of one.
Instead, why not have big groups of friends that are open to making new friends. That's what it's like at my church. There's a large group of girls all around the same age, and we do our best to be friendly, helpful, and open to new people. Try adding something like that to your novel and see what happens.
I know not every novel can feature friendships. But if you take away one thing from this post, it's that we should strive to show healthy friendships in our writing. Whether your character is making new friends or hanging out with old ones, try to writing friendships that you would want to see.
Let's talk! What examples of bad friendships can you think of? What about good ones? What are your thoughts on the types of friendships we should portray? Tell me in the comments.