Friends can be stumbling blocks to your writing: interruptions, temptations & invitations, not to mention occasional put-downs and other negatives. But your friends can also further your writing, whether they know it or not!
1. Borrow your friend’s mannerisms or quirks to make a character come to life. Does she wear heavy jewelry or too much make-up? Finger a locket when she thinks of an old boyfriend? Does he have a horse laugh? Tell hilarious stories that begin with, “but that’s not really how it was?” Does she jump high, punch the air, or do the hokey-pokey when she’s excited? Use judiciously, though – you want to add characterization, not make your friend the character.
2. Tell him or her what you really think. Admit it, there’s that one thing you’d love to say, but you value your friendship too much to really let loose. So give your characters the same issue, and let one of them blast away. Voila! Therapy and storytelling all in one.
3. Develop a plot from the roller coaster of your friend’s life. Here’s one from a friend of mine (used with permission): husband dies suddenly, forced to relocate, moving van gets totaled on the trip. A month later, dog requires surgery and convalescence, mandatory evacuation for hurricane, can’t go to hurricane shelter because dog is on meds. Any one of those is a basis for conflict and plot. All of them? Too much taken from this friend’s life would create privacy concerns. And no one would believe it anyway.
4. Fictionally solve a friend’s problem the opposite way. Is she an understanding mom for her teenage daughter? What if she weren’t? Is he working hard to lose weight or quit smoking? What if he fixated on quackery solutions instead?
5. Ask your friend for encouragement and accountability. Okay, so this one’s more serious. It’s a huge help, though, when someone is on your side. If she will respect your writing time, ask you how far you are on your novel, or even create a writing contract (write 1,000 words per day, etc.) and demand an accounting, it can only help your productivity.
6. Accept offers of help. If you’re the lucky writer of my dream world, your friend will even offer to watch the kids, do the dishes, or cook dinner while you write. How great could a writer’s life get?
How have your friends helped your writing? What would a friend in your dream world do for you? Looking forward to your comments!