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Writing Strong and Believable Friendships

I’m sure we’ve all read a book where a friendship is the most important relationship to us and that happens for a reason. A solid friendship can turn a good story into a great one! So, how does one go about writing a friendship that will stick in a reader’s mind?

Start with the Characters…

When it comes to literary friendships, the number one thing to avoid is writing a character whose sole purpose in the plot is being “the friend”. A character who is so one-dimensional won’t make a memorable one. So, it’s important to give both parties involved unique backstories from one another. They should have lives outside one another as well if there isn’t some important reason for their entire life revolving around one companion.

Finally, the characters involved in the friendship should be different from one another in a meaningful way. If one is bold and adventurous, and the other is meek and shy, the bold friend can pull the other out of their comfort zone and the shy friend can rein in the other to keep them safe or levelheaded in various situations. Obviously, that your friends are different from one another is not a requirement, but differences that support one another’s strengths and help with one another’s weaknesses can certainly help create a strong foundation for the relationship to grow.

The Relationship…

If the friendship you’re writing was established prior to the start of the story, be sure to give the friends a clear history with one another. This can be demonstrated with things like comfortable silences, bickering, silly long-standing arguments, inside jokes, a deep understanding of one another, and nonverbal communication.

Whether they began as friends or became friends within the story, they wouldn’t come together for no reason at all. So, consider the thing that will connect your characters. Perhaps it’s a common goal, dream, or enemy, or maybe it’s a shared history, status, background, or struggle. Whatever it is, making it important is the first step to a believable friendship.

Your next challenge is to be certain the relationship goes both ways. Just as no character should simply play the role of “the friend”, no character should do all the taking and none of the giving in a proper friendship. If your MC is in a friendship and offers no support, advice, etc. in return for that which is offered to them, the friendship will be presented as one-sided and even reflect poorly on the MC. So, be sure to make the relationship a two-way street if you want it to be supported and loved by your readers.

As with most things, even the best of friends don’t have a perfect relationship. So, in the friendships you write, leave some room for challenges here and there, especially if the friendship involves especially important characters. The effort to solve problems as they come will be a powerful statement on how much your friends care for one another and it will even offer an opportunity for the relationship to grow.

Finally, consider your own friendships! What brings you together? What keeps you from drifting apart? What do you argue over? How do you argue? What do you share? How have you been there for one another? Answering these questions for yourself may help you to answer them for your characters.

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