Every writer will tell you that every story needs conflict. The best stories have a strong villain and the most dramatic stories all need moments of levity. More experienced writers, though, will talk to you about the importance of friendship.
Friendship is an opportunity for a writer to explore loyalty, love, and loss. Friendship unites the reader with your characters as characters are united with each other in the course of your story, lifting your characters out of the page and into the reader’s heart. Once a reader believes in the friendship between your characters, the reader becomes emotionally invested in your story.
Can you imagine Harry without Ron and Hermione? At the core of Harry Potter is story based on friendship. Without Ron and Hermione shadowing Harry everywhere, supporting him, laughing with him, picking him up when needed, Harry Potter would have been a dour story about a boy who lost his parents, lives with a horrible aunt and uncle and goes to a dreary school for witches and wizards. It is the spark of friendship against the background of those adverse conditions that fuels the story and hurries the reader’s return to the pages of the novel.
A writer must invite the reader to care for its characters, their friendships, not simply through the perils and trials they face, but by understanding how deeply the loss of a friend may affect the outcome of the hero’s journey. The death of a beloved friend may spur a hero to accomplish their quest in order to honour their friend’s memory, or the grief of such loss may have a paralyzing affect, rendering the hero powerless to continue. Physical loss and emotional loss often have similar outcomes.
Certainly there are other types of friendship. Marriage is perhaps the deepest friendship. Twins have a unique friendship, parents and their children, siblings, coworkers, even nine unique individuals who form a fellowship, create the dynamics that forge friendships. An intelligent writer will explore these friendships, not simply through shared dangers under the threat of violence, but through subtle shared experiences, moments of intimacy as simple as sharing breakfast, a secret or a mutual love of a poet’s syntax.
Young writers would do well to consider the value of friendship and work on developing believable relationships. Always write from experience. Write what you know. Remember your audience. If they care about your characters, they’ll care about your story.
Kaja Blackley is the author of Maggie MacCormack and the Witches’ Wheel now on sale at: maggiemaccormack.com