I was trying to find a way to bring up this subject in a fun way. Your definition and requirements for friendship might be very different from mine. Even in fiction, you might see somebody as a bad friend to the protagonist while I see them as a good friend. A very fluid topic that plays a major role in The Spirit Well. So, I’m going to pose a question, answer the question, and see what people say in the comments.
- How important to you is friendship in fiction?
As a writer of ensemble stories, this is a core focus because your heroes need to be friends to some extent. Yes, you can have tension and squabbling, which puts a few more in the category of coworkers. A Wolverine/Cyclops type of relationship where they butt heads in private matters while backing each other up on the battlefield. It is easier to work characters as close friends that border on a family like I do with the champions. It removes that subplot of issues that can get overused at times and make it seem like friendship only exists in fiction to be broken. Even in what I read, I find myself enjoying characters that get along more than fight. This could also stem from me getting sick of the drama of reality.
- Should friendships move quickly or slowly when writing?
YES! Honestly, this depends a lot on the characters themselves as well as their situation. There might not be the luxury of taking their time with friendship like when Delvin is thrown into the champion prophecy. Luke and Nyx started out with friction and developed a partnership through shared misadventures. Meanwhile, Timoran was an outsider for most of his debut book until it’s revealed that he’s one of them. Then, he fit in rather quickly. When working with groups, it helps to have a character that brings everyone together and smooths the edges. On the other end of the spectrum, you can let it go slowly since forced relationships are very easy to pick out.
- Can villains have friendships?
Of course they can, but it really depends on the type of villain. Most antagonists are arrogant, paranoid to some extent, emotionally withdrawn, and see other people as tools instead of friends. This makes a friendship difficult to create unless you soften the villain. For example, Sesshomaru (demon) in Inuyasha becomes more of an anti-hero when he is traveling with Rin (little girl). A way to avoid this is to have the friendship be pre-existing even if one of the characters hasn’t appeared yet. Maybe the antagonist calls on this person to help after several failures. Both of them are evil, but there’s a bond that is stronger than their own flaws. This is a key to nearly every friendship. The connection has to be able to withstand the flaws of those involved or it will collapse rather easily.
- What do you look for in a fictional friendship?
Personally, I like seeing characters that back each other up regardless of them having a personal issue. The broken friendship twist is how you make new rivalries and villains, which can be undone down the road depending on what happened. Accidents and misunderstandings occur in real life, so I don’t see why they shouldn’t happen in fiction too. There is a natural feeling to seeing people shift and change while remaining beside each other. At least if they’re working toward a mutual goal or facing a common enemy that neither can defeat alone. I guess it does happen where two people will self-destruct and both go down because they can’t go it alone. Yet, I see that happen a lot in fiction and would rather see friends that work through the hard patches instead of getting consumed by them.