Monday, November 15, 2010

Yes, Fictional Characters Need Friendship Too

I spent the other day with my girlfriend, D. It was invigorating and refreshing and something I always look forward to.

A woman can be close to her husband or children. She could be close to her mother. But being close to a girlfriend is different. Let me explain why. D and I have been friends since we were freshmen in high school. We've done weekend visits, gone to church outings, stood up at each other's weddings. I wouldn't even consider anyone else to be my daughter's godmother. We've both worked and worked hard at our jobs, offered comfort for family losses and joy at personal successes.

But that isn't all. We can talk about our failures or disappointments, our hopes or dreams and we can do it without fear of ridicule or of being a disappointment to someone important to us. I won't say that we've never gotten irritated with each other or that our relationship has always been roses and light although for the most part it has. I know no hurt has been intentional between us even if it has sometimes occurred.

The same happens with men although a man's relationship with his friends will be described perhaps in more manly terms and events.

The reason I'm bring all this up though is that so often we authors don't always utilize friendships in our writings. We create a character who is alone and we seem to think that when they find their true love, they'll be whole. Complete.

But I have to disagree. If a character can't form friendships, s/he won't be able to form a lasting, loving relationship. Why? Because they won't know how.

Friendship helps us learn how to trust. It gives us confidence in ourselves and our relationships with those around us. When we create a character who has no friends or has never had a friend, we have to show  how they learn to open up, how they can extend their trust. It may be hard for them but it's something they must do before they can open themselves to love.

In my novel, Heartstone, Keriam the female lead, can't touch anyone without becoming hyper-aware. But she still managed to have friends and when she falls in love with Eric, the handsome shapeshifter who steals her away from her normal life, it starts with her beginning to admire things like his humor or tenacity or protectiveness. And the same happens with Eric. Neither of them lock eyes the first time they meet and decide S/He is The One. In fact, the first time they meet with Eric in his human form is...memorable. 

So...the next time you read about a character who is friendless, always been friendless but still falls in love, check out how they manage to do it. Look for the signs of a budding friendship before the love bomb falls on them :-)

As for me and my day with D...
Lunch With Friend $10
Shopping With Friend $50

Time Spent With Friend...Priceless

She appeared unhurt, thank the Stones. Her breathing was
steady. He pried her mouth open. It didn’t appear the Gawan-spawn
had had time to Infest her. He hoped it hadn’t.

Hearing a noise, his head whipped around. His entire body
tensed, poised on the brink of shapeshifting. The wind whispered
through the clearing. A curious tree-rodent scampered higher among
the branches of its tree home. Near the stream, a small, hornless herbivore
cautiously dipped its head toward the burbling water. From a
farther distance, he heard a dog bark, then fall silent.

After a moment he relaxed, satisfied there was no immediate
danger. The Gawan threat on Earth would have to be seen to but, for
now, his duty lay with the Stonebearer.

Quickly standing, he surveyed the trees, found the one he wanted
and scrambled up. His clothes dropped to the ground. A moment later,

he dropped too, holding his sheathed sword and the Gatefold Key.
Instinctively, he glanced at the Stonebearer still prone on the ground.

He had almost lost her.

He might still lose her if she was Infested.

He looped the Key’s chain around his neck. The incubation period
varied. He had seen battlemates succumb to the Gawan embrace
and within seconds—change. Others suffered a longer incubation, a
time spent in anguished terror. Often they chose Enogch, the mercy
death, rather than become a danger to their friends and family. More
than once, he had been asked to deliver the stroke.

Could he do less for the Stonebearer?

Eric clamped down, hard, on the sudden pain centered near
his heart. He shook his head, negating that line of thought. With
the Gawan on Earth, there was no time to waste. Clearly they knew,
or suspected, her vital role in his mission. He had to get her out of
their reach. He had to find the Heartstone.

Standing, he jerked his trousers on. The Gawan-spawn had fled
rather than continue the fight. That bothered him. While he could
not be Infested in his alter-forms, neither could he successfully battle
a Gawan-spawn’s greater strength. His sword would have equalized
them, but with Keriam—the Stonebearer—so close... Well, he could
not risk her.

Slipping an arm into the sleeve of his shirt, Eric heard a soft
moan and turned. Her hand fluttered. With a gasp, she sat up, eyes
wide and scanning the area. When she saw him, she scrambled to
her feet. “Stay away from me.”

His gut squeezed into a hard knot. Did she fear him because she
was Infested? Or was it an aftermath of her fight with the Gawanspawn?
He shoved his other arm into its sleeve and held his hands
out in a gesture of peace. “I won’t hurt you.”

“Damn straight,” she agreed and spun around, already in a dead
run. Directly to the Gatefold. Astounded, Eric watched as she tried to
stop but she was too close. She yelped as she passed through the glowing
circle, then tumbled in an ungraceful sprawl on the other side.

Well, she had gone where he wanted to take her and he was
willing to take advantage of the situation. Grabbing his boots and
his sword, he followed.

Eric compensated for the disorienting effects of the Gatefold
as he stepped through. As the Stonebearer surged to her feet,
hishunter’s instinct made him lunge forward. Grabbing her hand,
he whipped her against his chest before she could dash away. Her frenzied
resistance staggered him. His back crashed into the rough bole
of a calanti tree, loosening his grip.

The Stonebearer swung her fist, connecting just above his ear.
Stars exploded in his vision.

Rottinghell! What was wrong with the woman? Sweat trickled
down his temples as he struggled to contain her. Her heel slammed
down on his bare foot, drawing a loud curse as he sucked in air. Her
knee slammed into his thigh, too close to a very sensitive part of his
anatomy. “Stop! I don’t want to hurt you!”

Men did not strike females. Ever. Eric was beginning to wonder
why that was as the Stonebearer wriggled, twisted, and bucked
against him. She jerked free, turned to run and he kicked her feet
out from under her. She fell face first onto the ground. Eric followed,
straddling her hips. Though the fall knocked the air out of her, she
continued to struggle.

He threw his full weight on her, plastering her to the ground.
She heaved, wriggling her firm backside against his loins. He groaned
as his flesh hardened. That was all he needed, he thought caustically.
This was ridiculous. He was a seasoned warrior. He ought to be able
to subdue one small woman.

Her elbow jabbed backwards toward him. He caught it in a viselike
grip and reached for her other hand as she groped for a rock.
Lifting suddenly, her head banged sharply against his nose. “OW!”

Enough, he thought and snared her hands. Roughly, he whipped
them together tight enough to elicit a sharp gasp from the little ryka.
With one hand free, he groped in his belt pouch for a length of dursilk.
Irritation, and a strong sense of self-preservation, made him pull
her hands behind her back and bind them tightly.

Sitting on her buttocks, he gingerly dabbed his nose, not surprised
when his hand came away bloody. The ryka lay panting, the
side of her face pressed to the soil while he lifted the Key from his
neck. Activating it with his breath, he aimed it the way he would a
hand blaster. His thumb followed the silver maze around the stone.

The shimmering Gatefold vanished.

Eric sighed. He looked down at the woman. Now what?


Author Guy said...

All very true. All my heroes and heroines come from somewhere, they have people they love and want to be with, people they lose to the callof whatever they take to be duty. It's like that great line from the movie Grosse Pointe Blank, "I just think it's interesting that you came from somewhere."

The great charm of Miss Congeniality or the show Burn Notice is how the hero finds a new suppport group and assistance from the friends they make after the organizations they work for let them down. The tragedy of Witchblade is how wielding the blade cuts the heroine off from the rest of her life. You can't make choices, if you don't have choices. A man alone is choiceless, and boring.

Marc Vun Kannon

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Lynda and Marc,

Your comments are significant. Characters in a novel have to appear to be real. We all have some connection to other people.
Our characters should have friends as well.

Jacqueline Seewald
TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, paranormal historical romance

STACY'S SONG, YA romance

D'Ann said...

Great post!
And something to absolutely use.

Victoria said...

I love the final comment - lunch $10 - Shopping $50 - Time w/friend priceless. Just did all three this past Saturday. Really felt great after spending a few hours w/her. Girl friendship is very healthy.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Marc, great examples! And I agree, you can't make a choice if there are no choices.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Jacqueline and D'Ann, thanks for stopping by.

You're absolutely right, Jacqueline. It's important that we remember the people we create appear to be real and, consequently, have connections to other people.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Victoria,

I often feel that friendship is fuel for the psyche :-)

desitheblonde said...

hi well i did have some one like that but i have so many penpal now
and they are like family tome and the books well every one need someone
like charlie brown like the book wow
i would love to have it and read

Linda Andrews said...

Quite an insightful post. Friends can influence the hero/heroine for good or bad and make it that much harder to trust the next person.

Loved the excerpt too.

Asylumgirl said...

Absolutely, there's no substitute for the companionship of others.

deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Skylar Masey said...

So true Lynda! Most of my sci-fi heroines are loners, but my contemporary ones always have a best friend. And I love my girls night out with friends! It gives me a chance to talk girl talk and really get stuff off my chest...kind of like I used to do at pick-up writers meetings. lol. Sometimes you just need that sounding board.