I have a lot of friends and am thankful for all of them. One thing that I have always attempted to do is portray friends in fiction as they are in real life. So many elements of stories are inspired by actual events, whether they’re ‘based on true events’ or simply to add the feeling of reality.
One problem I face in that attempt is what happens in real life is differentiating characters. We see differences between people when they’re standing in front of us, but in short stories especially readers get confused. It forces me as a writer to dig deeper to really show different nuances, but I notice that isn’t always readily apparent in everyday interactions.
Another big problem is that truth is stranger than fiction. I have a short story on friendship that a few readers commented, “I don’t believe anyone could ever be like this.” I’d made the person less extreme than she really acted, so I never figured out how to really reconcile the story. Friendship takes many forms, and each of them depends on the dynamic between the two or more individuals who are together.
Then there’s the question of what makes friends not be friends anymore. It comes up more in my YA than it does in science fiction, likely because the teenage years are such a volatile time. Each time I write that, I wonder about friendship itself. I pick relationships apart and then analyze what I know about people.
It might not always help some ‘real’ relationships that seem doomed, but it has helped me make more realistic interactions for my characters. Next up ought to be someone who gets a phone call out of the blue from someone who’s been out of contact for two or three years. But after that amount of time, are the two still friends? It’s a question I haven’t yet been able to answer. Most of the time, I’d say no.