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6 Apr 2013

F is for... friendship

The lone wolf kind of protagonist has never appealed to me.  I don't know why, maybe it's because the story centres around them and after a while they can get a little boring.  Especially in paranormal type books.  The protagonist, often female, is usually a loner.  Anti-social, unpopular with no friends except for the underdog sidekick who secretly pines for her.  And we're in their head constantly so if they turn into a character who navel gazes a lot and whines it puts me off.  I think when you're in a paranormal situation that also affects the town it's hard to keep things to yourself.  And that's when a group of friends come in that make it interesting, not just for the situation but for the protagonist.

One thing I've always been inspired by is that group of friends, whether they were close to begin with or learn to be close.  There are no frenemies which seem to be popular these days.  They genuinely like each other, care for each other and fight together.  They're bound by what they know of their oddly paranormal town.  I'd love to see more of it in YA. 

My favourite examples:

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy came into Sunnydale high with no intent to be the popular chick, although she missed her prom
queen days a lot.  She knew having friends meant they would be harmed and she couldn't save a town and look after people who didn't have her skills.  But she met Xander and Willow and straight away they promised to help her out, unable to turn their backs on what they had seen.  Seven seasons later and they're wandering down the corridors of their old high school, holding hands and wordlessly saying goodbye to each other in case this potential apocalypse was in deed their last.  Throughout those seasons they dealt with supernatural situations, loss, broken friendships, and being harassed at school.  They were all there for each other when a character took a turn for the worse.

 Cas, Carmel, and Thomas

Cas met Thomas and Carmel on his investigation into the infamous ghost Anna Dressed in Blood.  They were useful, had information but Cas never really intended to befriend them.  Think again, Cas.  Think again.  While he wasn't used to having friends Cas learnt that a couple of people having your back wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  The both of them were very brave teenagers who were ready to step in and assist Cas in preventing Anna to kill again.  Carmel lost friends but she still stuck.  I loved this trio.  In a way they reminded me of Buffy and her friends.

The Spooksville Gang (Christopher Pike)

This gang of pre-teens lived in an uber-creepy American town which might as well have been another Hellmouth.  One by one they met each other and discovered that there was more to their strange little town than a rumoured witch.  The two female characters argued like mad but all in all they cared for each other and when one of their group were in danger of being lost to them, whether dead or turned into some strange creature they were determined to get them back.

My projects generally tend to have quite a few main characters, usually a group of friends.  It's just what I love seeing: teenagers who care for each other rather than being at each others throats or just not getting on.  When you have that close knit group, interesting developments arise. :)

Has anything inspired your choice of characters?

2 comments:

  1. I think giving friends to your MC helps you draw out their character. Are they caring, or indifferent? Would they sacrifice people for the cause, or be prepared to sacrifice themselves? How well do they take advice? And so on. Friends can bring out the best and worst in an MC. Trying to write a story with a loner MC is much harder to pull off, I think.

    All this comes into play when I think about friends for my MCs. The friend, or friends, must have a different perspective, different abilities--in other words, not simply a yes-man (or girl), and not simply a carbon-copy of the MC. There must be some friction, some give-and-take. Otherwise the story would be pretty boring. Think Harry and Ron! :)

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    1. When you have a loner MC you basically treat them as you would a real life person who doesn't make an effot to socialise. You assume their hostile and anti-social so you can't really bond with them either as a character or person.

      But when that loner character suddenly gains friends it's interesting because their priorities are about their friends as well. How do they grow to care about friends? Like you said, it's more interesting than a MC who doesn't care much for friendship at all.

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