AU: When a prince comes to Agrabah in the hopes of winning the hand of the sultan’s daughter, Jasmine falls for one of the dancers in his royal caravan - Esmeralda; they run away together.
do you ever just
make a friend and think
I am so glad this friend is mine
I went to the Met today
Modern fiction is sorely lacking in friendships - and I don’t count friendships that evolve into romantic relationships. I’m talking about a real old-fashioned friendship that has no romantic connotations or potential whatsoever. Romance and sex are great, but they’re not the end-all, be-all.
Types of Friendship
- You’re OK. That person that you talk to rarely, but you’ve heard good things about them. You talk to share opinions on stuff sometimes, but you don’t have a lot of shared interests and you never hang out. Anyway, you don’t mind working with them on group projects.
- Acquaintance. That person who you make small talk with on a fairly regular basis. You know the basics of their life and they know the basics of yours. You get along well and you’ll work together if your better friends aren’t around. You have a mild interest in each other but rarely hang out.
- Friend. That person who you hang out with on a fairly regular basis. You share many interests, such as humor, media (books, shows, etc.), sports, hobbies, and/or opinions. You, at least, have a strong interest in their life and they ideally have a mild to strong interest in theirs. However, there are things you keep from each other and you would probably not help them bury a body.
- Life companion. That person who you hang out with as much as you can. You share many interests, have a strong interest in each others’ life, and keep very little from each other. You always work together when you have the chance. You would probably help them murder someone.
Basically, you don’t need to make friendships only people your MC grunts at in greeting or besties 4ever. There’s a whole spectrum and I invite you to play with it.
Problems with Friendships in Fiction
- No friends. The character literally has no friends, even if they have ample exposure to people their own age or sharing the same interests. I understand that a lot of your characters are introverts. So am I. I spend an unhealthy amount of time blogging and I still miraculously have friends on the outside. Even total jerks will probably have some jerk friends.
- Shallow friends. The friends the character does make are rather one-dimensional. They don’t seem to do anything when the MC isn’t around. If they have a life outside the MC, they are usually dating or hanging out with other friends, making them little better than acquaintances.
- Sycophants. This applies chiefly the the MC’s enemies but also the MC. The MC’s enemy has an inexplicably large amount of followers without a reason for it. I would get it if the enemy has wealth or power, but surely there are some people in there that the enemy likes or something about the enemy that makes them charismatic. If the MC has a large following, their friends will fawn over them and/or drop anything to help them, without a real reason why. I often don’t understand why the MC has so many friends, especially if they’re angst-ridden world-savers.
- Friendship = romance. NO IT DOESN’T. Astoundingly, you can be friends with someone of a compatible gender without experiencing sexual attraction to them. As a pansexual, it would be very awkward if I was sexually attracted to everyone I befriended. Also, whenever I hear the phrase, “Marry your best friend”, I puke. I would not marry my best friend, thank you very much (incompatible orientations aside) because our friendship is built on a different kind of intimacy. Romance can develop from friendship - especially if your character is demisexual - but please stop making every single friendship of compatible genders turn romantic.
- "Like a brother/sister to me." This is the plague of male/female friendships. Listen, guys, friendship and fraternity are two different bonds. They’re like apples and oranges, especially considering the bond you have with your siblings rarely maps directly to a bond you have with one of your friends. You’re also discrediting the entire idea of friendship, as if it can’t exist without a familial vibe.
Benefits of Friendship
- Shoulder to cry on
- OK with touching each other
- Long-running inside jokes
- Shared interests
- No judgement - if there is a disagreement, you ideally agree to disagree or have a controlled debate about it
- Exposure to new things
But, you cry, that is exactly like a good romantic relationship without the sex! That’s the point. You can have all the good emotional/intimate things about a romantic relationship without the sex! And you should have important relationships without sex, because they are real and do happen IRL. Also, chances are - especially if your characters are young or unmarried - their closest relationships will be with friends.
Awesomeness of Friendship (Plotwise)
- Friendships don’t tend to end or begin with a bang. So you can have your character slowly deal with the creeping fear their friends are abandoning them or deal with the creeping realization that someone is becoming closer to them in a good way.
- Your MC has difficulty budgeting time between their significant other and their friends
- Friends make great secondary characters and interactions with the MC will bring out their character as well as the MC’s
- Killing off good, well-developed friends really will motivate your MC instead of blase, kind-of-friends the author usually opts for
- BrOTPs (although make sure they are BrOTPs and not a form of queerbaiting)
- Gives your character a larger network of people to emote with, other than the usual lover, mentor, and friend the MC abuses a lot
- Toxic friendships that drive the MC into dangerous situations
Bolded & italicized mine for emphasis because people don’t seem to grasp this concept
Some superb photographs of birds, Sushyue Liao , a Taiwanese photographer (via)