Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Writer's Corner - Crossing The Best Friend Line


Here's another thorny one to discuss guys. How do we feel when best friends get together? I've grown up around a lot of boys, so inevitably I'm a bit of a tomboy. I prefer X-men and Transformers to Barbie and Top Model. My male friends have been like brothers to me, so the thought of having my female MC and her best friend fall in love feels a little...wrong. Don't even get me started on kissing a former best friend. I'm not knocking it, I just don't have any experience in the area and it's difficult to write.
        How do you suddenly wake up one day and decide that the guy you've grown up with, you know, the same one that ate crayons and pushed you into the sandpit, is suddenly irresistible? At the moment I cannot think of a single book I've read where this dynamic has been done well. I'm not talking just friend, but best friends. That one person who gets you and knows what you're thinking and just happens to be the opposite gender. So help me out guys, can you think of any books where the best friend line has been crossed successfully? How do you feel about this?

25 comments:

  1. Hum...I'm trying to think of any books I've read lately...the only one I can think of is The Body Finder.

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  2. I actually crossed that best friend line myself with my husband and i'm glad I did but I cant think of any books where this has been done.

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  3. Ash: It's really difficult isn't it? I'd love to know of any books where it's been done well because I can't seem to write anything remotely believable.

    Che: How did you do it? What made you decide to do it? I have so many questions?? The only way I have worked out to write this tricky equation is to bring in another love interest which makes the MC jealous and then she realises that she's in love with him....

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  4. Maybe Rippler by Cidney Swanson? I don't know.

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  5. Sabrina: What's Rippler about? It's a hard question isn't it?

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  6. I can't think of anything off the top of my head. I am like Che, my husband was my best friend. I think there was a six month period for us where we started to look at one another differently. Mainly because we were young, and believed no one else understood us...etc...(lots of mushy stuff)

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  7. Beth: How do you think the situation is best approached? As a gradual affection that slowly builds or through some dramatic event? I read some research somewhere that most male/female frienships are strictly platonic but you guys are the exception!

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  8. Good question! (Your blog always makes me think. I love that!)

    A version of this I've seen a few times is to have them be longtime friends who have recently undergone a separation, then have the sparks fly upon reunion. (Sort of an absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder idea.)

    One specific friends-to-lovers story I enjoyed was Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis (goodreads link) - they work through in all in very adult yet entertaining way.

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  9. BJ: I hadn't thought of that! A separation. Interesting. Let me make it more interesting, say the MC is already in love with another guy as well? All I can think of is to kill the third wheel because he is too big a chararcter. Classic YA drama :( Thanks heaps for the suggestion. Will look onto it for research!

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  10. Sorry, but I'm not going to be much help. I write MG, so I only have to have hints of romance. In the book I'm editing, the MC is a girl, and her best friend is a boy she's grown up with, who is pretty much a brother to her. Another boy joins them to bring down the bad guys-- the one I planned to have her eventually like. So many people who have beta read it say, "She's going to get together with her best friend, right?" And I think, What?! He's like her brother! Eww! But maybe that's because I'm more of a tom boy, too. Hm....

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  11. I've always thought the idea was romantic so I blindly accept it in books but I don't have any male friends. I did once when I was a kid but he moved away and I never saw him again. So I can see the separation thing working...maybe.

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  12. It's kind of weird for two friends who have never thought of one another as more than platonic friends to suddenly feel like they love one another. I think the falling in love with your best friend thing works best when one of the two has harbored a secret crush on the other for a long time. So it's not as out of the blue. I know what you mean about it being weird. Most of my friends are guys, certainly the ones I hang out with the most (I think there's only 1 female friends of mine that I hang out with on a regular basis), and I can't imagine, er, falling in love with any of them haha (never mind the fact that my boyfriend is already my best friend :)

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  13. Since I've had lots of good guy friends through the years, I always romanticized the idea for myself. It just seems so sweet. I like the idea of being with someone who knows me really well and that I share a history with.

    As far as books go, I'll have to think about this one for a little bit. I know I've read at least ONE good best friends turned couple books.

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  14. It doesn't bother me in fiction - I know a lot of married couples who say their husband/wife is their best friend, so it seems somewhat natural for best friends to be husband and wife someday. Of course, when I apply this thought to my own male friends it seems completely unnatural and something that'll never happen, but it's a leap that I can accept in literature.

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  15. Whoa, that is a thorny one! I can't think of any books off the top of my head, and the only movies I can think of weren't very good... Maybe the separation thing would work. Or having one of them in sudden jeopardy, and they both realize what they mean to each other?

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  16. I think I'd avoid the "suddenly"...odds are, if your characters were real people, they'd be noticing the other/in denial about noticing the other...probably wrestling with not wanting to damage the friendship...and then, something happens - the other person, a separation, fighting together against Big Evil - which motivates them to admit the truth.

    Ack! Love Triangle! Nooooo! ;) OK. If you've gotta, you've gotta...but I'd go for heart-wrenching agony, and having to CHOOSE one of the two. Having one of them die makes your character passive instead of proactive, which weakens them and the story. In my (always humble *snort*) opinion, anyway.

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  17. I've been there, and I have to say, it has been one of the most stressful things! You want to be the person, but you don't want to ruin the friendship, but then the friendship is weird because you want more... it's a constant cycle and it's guaranteed to make somebody insane.

    For me, I took the risk, and he took the risk as well. Life's all about them anyway, right? At the end of the day, if they're really your best friends, whether or not they feel the same way you do, they should still be there even after all that.

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  18. I've been dating one of my male best friends for about 3 years now....although to be fair, despite the fact that I've known him since JK I didn't become "best friends" with him until about 5 years ago....so maybe the potential to look at him as more than a friend was easier because I wasn't terribly close to him for the 15 years before that. I'm glad we took the risk though because it is definitely one of the best relationships I've ever been in! I think Jillian in the comment above me summed up pretty mch everything I could add to this......

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  19. Hi All. Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out with this question. Real life has caught up with me today so I haven't had a chance to really response to this the way I wanted and also check out your sites. I'll be back soon though. Thanks again.

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  20. I like the idea of a traumatic event that pushes them together, but I also like the slow progression. There is also a comfort level that is nice, and kind of sweet.

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  21. Hey Lan,
    This is so funny to me. I just finished my third MS, and it actually involves just this situation :D I personally love this storyline, but I think it only works when one character alreads knows. It's that whole "unrequited," "suffer in silence" type thing. I don't like it when they just suddenly realize it. So, anyway, if I ever get an agent and the book sold, hopefully we can count that as one among the successful times! (My book's got plenty of the funny btw:))
    Ninja Girl

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  22. Hey lady,
    Just nominated you for an award!

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  23. Oh and the only book I can think of that did this well and effortlessly is the Harry Potter series with Ron and Hermione.. haha

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  24. Peggy: I got the same reaction from my beta readers. Even though my MC already has a very concrete romantic interest! Doesn't make any sense to me. I think my mistake was making my MC and her best friend too close.

    Jenny: I am seriously thinking about the separation thing for a number of my books!

    Jinny: A lot of people say that their partner is their best friend and I can understand why. My husband and I are best friends now but we were never friends to start off with. I agree that something had to change in the relationship for one of the parties to realise they have feelings for the other.

    Jessica: I like the idea of two best friends falling in love as well. Hence my current predicament. Now I'm just wondering if it's worth enough to destroy an already established relationship.

    TG: I know exactly what you're saying. I can't relate to the falling in love with your best friend thing either, which is why I didn't write my novel on that premise. But the more I think about it the more it kind of makes a bit of sense.

    Alexia: That's my only lifeline right now. Jeopardy = romantic feelings surfacing! Though a bit hard to make convincing as they are both psychics and can read each others minds!

    BJ: The whole time I was writing the novel I was dead set against a love triangle. I think my problem is that my MC's best friend is a character I've had in my head since I was 16-17 so he is more familiar to me than anyone else and crazy as it sounds, I want the best for him. And the best to me seems to be the MC of course :(

    Jillian & Natalie: It's wonderful that crossing the best friend line has been a huge success for you guys! Care to give me some pointers??

    Beth: You summed it right up in those few lines. Comfort level. The telepathy my MC and her best friend share is the ultimate comfort and that's hard to break.

    Ninja Girl: Gimme Gimme Gimme. I want to read this book you've written!! Fingers and toes crossed that an agent is smart enough to pick up your book! And thanks again for the award!

    Jillian: I wish J.K Rowling would do a companion novel from Hermione's point of view. Then we could really get into the breakdown of the relationship!

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  25. Decision note: Thanks again for all the great insights guys. I have decided to leave my novel the way it is and not fiddle with the best friend thing. It wouldn't do either character any justice. In other news, I might try and slip it into my dystopian that I'm just starting!

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