A Little Help From My Friends

Friends are important.  Good friends support you when you are having trouble, make you laugh when times are good, and keep your head from swelling.  Friends are fun singly or in groups.  And friendships can make book characters more believable.

It can be tricky to develop friendships in books.  A real relationship between people includes a variety of moods and moments, and these need to be present in a novel, too.  There are seven girls, 4 main characters and 3 supporting, who form a tight-knit group in Butterflies.   They become friends through shared training, and we see their connection develop and strengthen in various groupings and scenarios. There are even variations of the depth of friendship between individual pairs within the group.  Some of them are paired for projects; two sets of three have overlapping courses. Three share the same birthday, and they all turn to one another as resources.

The trick to a group of female friends is the blend of emotions.  One girl may treat another with sympathy in one scene and sarcasm in the next.  Women who are friends know all the clever teasing and loving humor that works with each other, and it is a skill we develop as teens.  This can be easy and difficult to write all at once; the dialog flows freely but much of the conversation is body language and tone, hard to convey in words. 

The most enjoyable writing of this set of friends was when two of the girls begin to develop some romantic relationships.  As any woman knows, you are happy for a friend when she finds someone but a little jealous at the same time.  The conversation is at once teasing and encouraging, with just a hint of cattiness.  It was supremely fun to write, with blushing, tongues stuck out, things being thrown, and innuendo.

There are two groups of friends that form the reference point for my writing.  One is the “Upstairs Corner,” a group of 6 girls that I was a part of in high school.  This is the main source for the friends in Butterflies, as the ages and general scenario are quite similar.  The other group is the social group I have at work – a better refernce for adult friends, but with the same balance of support, teasing, and fun that I found in school.

I hope you have friends to lean on, both in real life and your writing!