Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Best Friends

In my books, my secondary characters are either family or best friends. Families are a hoot and a great way to exorcise your demons—but I’ll leave that little nugget for another blog. Today, I want to talk about best friends—my favorite characters to write.

If a woman, in real life or in fiction, is interesting, she has an amazing best friend. You should know because you have one yourself. She’s the one who'll tell you when you’re acting stupid, threaten your boyfriend with castration if he hurts you, and call your big brother to beat up your ex after he hurts you.

A true best friend won’t give you any undeserved poor babys. She’s your sounding board with a bullshit meter, and she’s the one person who will throw your past in your face and enjoy it.

The problem with the heroine’s best friend, who  by definition is interesting and fun, is that she tends to take over the book because, like all best friends, she knows all our heroine’s secrets and isn’t afraid to use them. And, like any woman, she’s not happy playing the best friend.

Gina, Rosalie’s best friend in Romeo, Romeo, is a cross between Jessica Rabbit and Tinkerbelle with a Latin twist. She has a smart mouth, a small waist, big boobs, and can put the fear of God in people twice her size. She also has men falling all over her--not that she notices. Every now and then, she sharpens her claws, picks out a man, and keeps him like a cat keeps a mouse—just to have something to play with.

Gina was the most difficult character to rein in. A writer could spend a whole page just describing her outfit. The only way I got her to behave herself was to offer her a book of her own in the near future. No, she’s not the heroine of If You Can’t Take The Heat… but my next book is hers. All I can say is I feel sorry for her future love interest Ben. The poor boy doesn’t stand a chance.

Heroes have best friends too. But for some reason, most men need two: one who is older and settled down, and one who is single and just as confused as our poor misguided hero.

In Romeo, Romeo Nick has Vinny and Mike. Vinny is Nick’s older cousin and father figure. Vinny tells Nick what he doesn’t want to hear, tells Nick what not to do, and when Nick doesn’t listen, Vinny says I-told-you-so beforehand--that way he won’t have to kick Nick when he’s down. A best friend like Vinny will get a guy drunk, put him to bed, and wake him with a phone call at the time calculated to inflict the most pain since he knows damn well our hero is hung-over. After telling our hero that there’s coffee made and food in the fridge to soak up the alcohol, the best friend will deliver a lesson on groveling, along with the phone numbers and addresses of the closest Godiva shop and florist.

Characters like Mike, Nick’s other best friend, take great pleasure in flirting with the heroine and showing our hero what he’s missing. Best friends like Mike make fun of our poor hero once he’s good and hooked and take every opportunity to tease the hero about being domesticated, all the while swearing it will never happen to him. Mike goes along his merry way--until I get him in my next book.


  1. Great post, Robin! Thanks for the reminder! I realize now that my characters tend not to have best friends, and as a result, they live in something of a vacuum. (They have sounding boards in one format or another; a parent or co-worker.) More often than not, they lean on their own judgment, which is sometimes flawed, or else there's no story. :) Something I need to think about, and work on more. Thanks!

  2. Sounds like a rich novel, Robin. If a book lacks great characterization, I can easily put the book down. I suspect with Romeo, Romeo and your cast of characters, I'll have an all nighter on my hands :)

  3. Looking forward to reading the book, Robin! Sounds like some wonderful characters are waiting to be found.

  4. You are so right, Robin!! The best friends are there for a reason and I love writing those characters too. I totally agree about going on for pages about their outfit!! Can't wait to read these books!!


  5. Okay, woman, you need to write faster!

  6. Thank heaven for best friends--even at those times you want to stuff a sock in their mouths. I'm dying to read your book. I've already told MY best bud--who happens to be Italian & Irish--about it so she's dying right along with me. I do so love to share (snicker). Much love, hon. Pat

  7. Hi Carla -

    Best friends are great sounding boards and they also show the reader a lot about the Hero or Heroine. What your mother said was correct: the friends you keep are a reflection of you.

    Of course all my friends are beautiful, talented and witty. A lot of them stopped by to say hi. I'm one lucky writer.

    Robin :)

  8. Morning all!

    Thanx for the great post, Robin. You know the old saying, "Thank goodness you can pick your friends because you can't pick your relatives."

    Hmmm, lots of my secondary characters are relatives. No wonder my poor h/h have so many problems!


  9. Robin-

    I love how quirky the best friends get to be; they're either a voice of reason or the troublemaker for the hero or heroine. Either way they generally play a seemingly small but always bigger part in plots than they might even realize! I can't wait to read about yours :)


  10. Hey, Robin, this sounds like a lot of fun! I can't wait for you to "get" Mike in your next book. Serves him right!


  11. I've not only written about best friends, but have used real friends as characters. They love being in a book, but what's even more fun is to totally lambaste someone who has REALLY ticked you off! Revenge can be sweet....

  12. Your book sounds great. And I totally agree about the secondary characters. I love to write B/F/Fs. They can provide the sassiest dialogue. My B/F in Dating da Vinci has the personality of Cristina Yang in Grey's Anatomy (only she's older and thrice married.) My B/F in my first novel was a metro sexual (as opposed to the gay best friend) so he was pretty fun too and still loved to chase skirts. It's fun to explore who makes the right "fit" for the position of B/F to enhance the novel

  13. What great characters! A super post on a subject that is often missed in many books. :)