Who Needs Best Friends?

Whether it’s in real life or found on the big screen or between the pages of a favorite book, we need best friends.

Anyone who’s been through either good or difficult times can appreciate the steadfast friend who remains at your side.

As a writer, I can’t imagine having a main character without the benefit of a best friend.  Sometimes they provide comic relief or that voice of reason.  Whether that best friend is quirky, serious or just sweetly loyal, I love best friends!  Love, love, love ‘em!

Where would Lucy be without her Ethel?  Probably not in as much trouble, but, come on, where’s the fun in that?  Can you even picture Fred Flinstone without Barney Rubble?  Or Spongebob without Patrick. 

There are, of course, the stories with best friends that have you reaching for your tissue box.  Beaches.  Bridge to Terabithia.  My Girl.  Fried Green Tomatoes.  Charlotte’s Web.  Those are the stories that make you want a best friend just like the one you read or saw—even though the outcome of that friendship may be about loss and pain and learning to go on without them. 

Mohammed Ali once said, “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain.  It’s not something you learn in school.  But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”  So, so true.  We usually do learn the important lessons from our friends because they’re the sounding board for our hair-brained ideas, and if we’re lucky, they’ll manage to talk us out of them!  From the crib to nursing home, we depend on our friends.  No pun intended on the Depends.  Well, now there is…

What does friendship mean to you?  As a person?  As a writer?  What are the qualities that a best friend has to have as a supporting character in a book?  For me, they have to have a strong sense of loyalty and acceptance.  You can tell a lot about people by their best friends.  In some ways, they help define us.  They help us to understand ourselves, and, sometimes to accept ourselves—faults and all. 

Many times best friends come together because they have so much in common.  Others join forces because they’re so different and can somehow, someway balance out each other’s weaknesses and complement their strengths. 

Writers are an amazing group of friends when they finally meet.  Who else can fully appreciate the need to talk to imaginary people?  Who else can understand the mad scramble for a pen and paper while driving because you just thought of an amazing idea?  Who else can sympathize with you as you hit a bump in the publishing road?  No one else gets why a rejection letter from a complete stranger can feel like someone close to you just broke your heart.

Within the past year, I was lucky enough to become part of several amazing groups of writers.  My Unsinkable Sisters (and one lone brother) from the 2010 Golden Heart Finalists.  My MargaRITA sisters, the YA finalists from that same group.  RWA and the smaller chapters—WRW and YARWA.  And, now, my very own Waterworld Mermaids, who recently joined forces as first-timers at our local conference. 

When you think of best friends in books, movies or real life, who comes to mind?  Who inspires you?  Oprah and Gayle?  Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer?  Laverne and Shirley?  And, when you write those secondary characters—best friends for your hero or heroine—what character traits do they have to have? 

I’ll end with an anonymous quote I once read:  “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

So, when life kicks you in the butt or things don’t seem to be going your way, make sure you have the friend who will remind you not to forget your dreams and the songs in your heart.  Someone who will pick you up, dust you off, and then give you another swift kick in that same butt—but in a good way.

40 thoughts on “Who Needs Best Friends?

  1. Lovely and just what I needed today. Have lots of DRAMA going on with my friends right now and that is always such a stressful turn of events. But you’re right friends are that voice that calls bullshit on us when we need it. They celebrate with us in good times and help us see that things will get better when dark clouds settle over us. As to my favorite set of fictional friends I have to go with Bridget Jones’ trio of besties. Love them.

    1. Friend drama is the worst. I feel for you, Avery. 🙂
      Here’s hoping that dark clouds never settle over you again, and if one or two stray your way, you’ll have plenty of friends to stand beside you! And Bridget Jones rocks!

  2. I just spent part of yesterday with my family and a my best friend Charlie. He and I have been best friends since we were 15. We’ve spend 2/3 of our lives as friends–but he’s more like part of my family. He’s followed me across the country twice. He lived with me and my family for 6 months when he was relocating. My kids call him Uncle Chuck, my husband thinks of him as a brother-in-law, and I was closer to his mom and his sisters than I am to my own. We’ve run the gamut together, births, deaths, marriages and failed relationships. I can’t imagine not having him in my life.

    1. Robin,
      You’re lucky that your kids have their Uncle Chuck. He sounds like an awesome friend, indeed. I have one that’s like that. I never call her my best friend because she’s truly the sister of my heart. Our moms were friends before I was born, and we’ve celebrated our special moments together and cried together through the bad ones. Her name is Kimberly also, and my mom laughs now because back when she was thinking of names, she thought, “What are the chances that we’ll even know them years from now…?” Well, she was at my house last night after having my son on an overnight visit the night before. So, I guess Mom was wrong about friends going in different directions in life. If you find the right one, you’ll always go in the same direction.

  3. Amen! Friends are what keep us sane when the rest of the world has melted around us. Okay, I’m going out on a limb with this one–best friends–R2D2 and C3PO/Gilligan and Skipper/Laurel and Hardy/Garfield and Odie.

  4. Great blog, Kim. You said it all. Friendship is a very important outlet. Our friends can be our public conscience, a task master, or just someone to provide a hug when we’re way too hard on ourselves and we try to be perfect.

    1. Loni,
      Love the R2D2 and C3PO! Just goes to show that friends come in all different packages.

      Thanks for stopping by, my Unsinkable sister! You’re right about friends filling different roles in our lives.

  5. Absolutely — friends serve the same purpose, whether real or fictional, and I can’t imagine life without them. Favorite literary besties? Hmn…maybe Min, Liza, and Bonnie, from Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me — they’re all so different yet utterly devoted to each other, even when that means saying tough things.

  6. Right back at you, babe! I’d be nothing without my friends, and I feel lucky to count you as one … and you know I’m all in for the butt kicking part. (grin) Tomorrow I’m sparring with my trainer. I’ll ask him what the best kickboxing technique is for motivating someone to get their business done.

    1. Hello, my lovely MargaRITA sisters! Thanks for stopping by. We know from experience that sometimes we have to say the “tough things” and get ready for the butt kicking, too. LOL. Shea, let me know what your trainer says. I need a little help in that department. 🙂

  7. I love this post!!! And I love my new co-PRO-president friend. She’s pretty rad. Just sayin’.

    I just interrupted my daily g-chatting with my BFF to read this. She had been reading my current synopsis to g-chat with me. It’s all cyclical. We make a good pair. Who else would wear a panda hat, while I wear a tiara and take a picture on the beach with me. Yeah, that’s right – pandas and tiaras. (If I could add a picture to this comment, you would totally see.)

    1. Back at ya, PRO-pres. 😉 BFFs are the bomb. When you find a good match, you just have to stick with it!
      Don’t we have an area on here somewhere to post this picture? Come on! I HAVE to see it!

  8. Great post. Friends make the world a better place. My dear friend and critique partner, Dana Rodgers, one of the Waterworld Mermaids, is one of a kind. She’s incredible at critiquing, but she’s also a wonderful person. She’s full of encouragement and laughs, and she’s there whenever I need her, even if it’s late at night for a stupid brainstorming question. The best friend a girl could have!

    1. It’s funny how our best friends end up being those in the writing community. They really get us more than the average person. The craziness. The wild ideas. The up-at-all-hours kind of nights. I’m glad you found that (not the craziness, but the friendship) with Dana. It sounds like you’re a great pair.

    2. Awwwww! You’re going to make me cry if you keep that up! You’re the best friend a girl could ask for, Anita!

  9. Hi Kim! Lovely post. I think the more life we live, the more we appreciate friends. The friendships I’ve lost have made me sad, but I also think how interesting it is that we do seem to have friends who were made for certain times in our lives, who then fade away when life changes. And then there are friendships that endure. As I’ve gotten older, and have settled into the person I am, the friends I’ve made in the past few years are stronger and I can see them lasting the rest of my life–I hope!

    1. I think you’re right, Heather! Although there are the friends who seem to stay with you–regardless if you’re on the same road–there are the ones who are actually traveling the same road at the same time and trying to get to the same destination. Like our writing groups. 🙂 Some of us arrive a little sooner than others, but we’re still heading the same way. Thanks, my Unsinkable sister, for stopping by!

  10. BFFs are awesome, beyond words (and sometime full of words). They have ups and downs but at the end of the day they are there for you. Thank you Kerri for sharing this blog entry with me, Kimberly you hit the nail on the head. In the words of Kerri’s Nunnie, ‘if you have been friends with someone for more the 10years, hold on to them as they know you the best, they are true friends’. BTW, that Panda hat was hot and we did look cute!

    1. Holy cow! I HAVE to see this picture! Post it somewhere. Now.
      Kerri is awesome, and I’m privileged to be a part of her Underwater Kingdom.
      Maybe next time you could wear the tiara with a mermaid tail? Just sayin’. How cute would that be?

  11. So, so true, Kimberly! What’s that other quote – real friends help you hide the bodies? *grin*

    Knowing that someone is just a phone call away can be a powerful thing.

      I’ve always loved that one, too, Abigail.
      Thanks for the chuckle. 😉

  12. I thought it was: A friend will come bail you out of jail but a true friend will be sitting there beside you saying, “Damn that was fun.” And a best friend will help you bury the body. Or maybe that’s just in my circles. ;-D

    1. Those are two different sayings, Dana. LOL. But, if you need to combine them for whatever reason, go ahead. 🙂
      I’ve heard the one about the jail, too. Although I really prefer to be able to call the friend to bail me out. What good is she if she’s sitting beside me?! Or maybe a best friend will be there when it all happens but runs like hell so she can bail you out later??? That would be the best scenario.

  13. Wait a minute — two of my fellow mermaids are co PRO presidents and this is the first I’m hearing about it? Does that mean I get special treatment? jk
    Very insightful post, Kim. It got me thinking about the best friends in my books and how they function as characters.

  14. Kim,

    I’m a bit teary–and you know how I prefer to make others cry. 🙂 Your post is sooo true. When I think about the friends I’ve made along my journey, I’m so honored and humbled. Thanks for being one of my margaRITAs!!!

    My favorite bff movie is Beaches. 🙂 Corny, I know. My long-time bff and I joke about who is Barbara Hershey and who’s Bette Midler. 🙂

    1. Lovin’ me the corny, Carey. You know that. And thank YOU for being one of the MargaRITAs.

      My list of tear jerkers makes me cry every time–even when I know the ending already. I just really want to change the ending sometimes or shove them into an alternate universe where they have a happily-ever-after.

      I always tear up when Charlotte dies, though. It doesn’t matter how old I get, that damn spider gets me every time.

  15. Hey Kimberly,
    Great post, and a good reminder of how one of the most important aspects of our lives also plays a major role in storytelling.

  16. Hey Kim, thanks for blogging about such a cool topic. One of my fave cinematic duos is Sandy and Frenchy from Grease. I always wanted to have someone who would do that hand thing Frenchy did when the mean girls walked by and made fun of Sandy!

    1. Carlene,
      I have to admit to my complete adoration of Rizzo. When I was a kid, she seemed cool beyond words! While all my friends were trying out for our neighborhood production of Grease (which took place in selective garages with fold up chairs for bored parents), all the other girls wanted to be Sandy. I was so excited I about peed my pants when I sang–rather off-key–“There Are Worse Things I Could Do….” Oh, memories. Gotta love ’em.

  17. I think what makes a best friend truly the best is the ability to tell us when we’re headed in the wrong direction…without lecturing. Just a gentle statement or a pregnant pause can be enough to let us know when the choo choo is in danger of jumping the tracks.

    Fave best friend from books? Hmmm…how about Scout and Jeb Finch? Even though they were sibs, they were great friends, too.

    Great post, Kim!

    1. Kristan,
      Thanks for stopping by. I cracked up in your latest book when Harper finally finds out that her mom named her after Harper’s Bazaar and not after Harper Lee! Good choice with the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird.
      I think we should make you an honorary member of our group since you were also a first-timer at the conference, huh? I hereby name you a Waterworld Mermaid!

  18. Hi, Kim and Mermaids!

    What a lovely post. A girl can’t get by without her besties or her MargaRITAS! I value friends who can tell it like it is.

    Oh, and you mentioned ‘Beaches’. Boy, did I cry when I first saw that movie. I was sixteen and my best friend had just moved to Holland *forever*. Up until then we were inseparable. It took me years to get over that!

    1. Vanessa,
      I really wanted to name you in my post because you deserve it. Thanks for always lighting that fire under me and encouraging me to attempt and then complete NaNo. I probably wouldn’t have if you hadn’t kept dropping me those guilt-producing emails. 🙂

      I’m so glad we’re traveling this crazy road together! Even if our geographic locations are worlds apart, you’re ever in my heart…. God, am I sappy or what?
      Cheers, my MargaRITA sister!

  19. I second that! All in favor of making Kristan an honorary memeber, say I.

  20. Moving post, Kim! Charlotte’s Web has to be one of the best buddy stories of all time. I also LOVE the 1980s John Hughes film, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The evolution of the friendship between Steve Martin and John Candy is so heartwarming and really gets to the essence of why we need friends. Raising my margarita glass to friends!

    1. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: That darn spider gets me every time. Oh, and the look on little Wilbur’s face when he realizes that she’s not coming home with him….
      Oh, heck. I’ve got that lump in my throat again!! LOL
      Raising my MargaRITA glass back at you! Thanks, Shell.

  21. oh, Kim, what a fabulous celebration of friendship! and ohmygosh, it’s really got me to thinking about best friends in fiction. Right now I’m reading DEADLINE — sequel to Mira Grant’s FEED — so can’t help but think of and admire the friendship those main characters (Shaun and Georgia) had/have. Good friendships well written help you see the wonder in your own friendships. So of course now, after reading this, I have to get my BFF Petra on the phone and fire off some emails to friends who I know are sitting at their computers just now — cos nothing brightens a day like a hello from a friend : )

    1. Thanks, Jen. Friendship should always be celebrated. Every single day. And I raise my glass to you! Can’t wait to meet up in NYC. See you soon.

  22. I just watch Thelma & Louise again last night. Now that’s true friendship! I always love a best friend character that speaks the truth, even when the MC doesn’t want to hear it.

    Writers really are the best friends. Only writers can get other writers completely. I don’t know what I’d do without them!

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