Story Stuff: B Is For Best Friends

In the first day of our series, we talked about something every good protagonist needs: agency. Today, we’ll talk about something else many can’t do without: best friends.


Or coworkers, or spouses, or roommates . . . you get the idea. The sidekicks.

In Young Adult novels, the best friend is an important character – at times more important than the protagonist himself. The BFFs support, challenge, teach, and provide comic relief. Best friends are great for providing drama, if needed. In thinking of different types of sidekicks, the best friend is often a foil, providing contrast to our protagonist.

However, it’s extremely easy to let the best friend fall into stereotype. I bet you can name a few: the flamboyant one, the nerdy one, and the promiscuous one come to mind. In YA, the protag is often studious while the best friend likes to party (though I’ve read a couple that were the other way around – the BFF ends up saving the protag from herself).

J and K


Alternately, the best friend could be a loyalist. They provide less of a contrast and more of a teammate aspect to the story, and the protag likely can’t succeed without them. It can be tricky to pull off a loyalist-type relationship without making the protag seem weak, but there’s a lesson about counting on others to consider.

Harry had Ron and Hermione, Captain Kirk had Spock, and J had K. These friendships act as a separate character, in a way. Can you imagine Deadpool without Weasel (the bartender), Timon without Pumbaa, or Frodo without Sam?

What are your favorite story friendships? How do you use friendships in your story? 

15 thoughts on “Story Stuff: B Is For Best Friends

  1. Without a sidekick or best friend, novel is incomplete. In my WIP, I’ve a Protagonist uncle as his best friend. He guides and helps Protagonist to achieve what he wants in his endeavors. Your choice for B for best friend is a good choice!.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Can you imagine Deadpool without Weasel?

    I can imagine it without Deadpool – much better. The best line in that movie was when somebody told him to shut up.

    Best friends are probably best friends because they are a lot alike (many interests in common) or because they fill in the gaps the other person is missing. Or both.

    A friend like that, who has what you don’t and still has a lot in common with you, as was said in Jerry McGuire, completes you. Doesn’t get much bester than that.

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  3. I love a good Bromance! (the female equivalent is still Bromance in my head, because girls can totally be bros). One of my favourite Bessie Bromances is from a computer game—Mass Effect—in which one of the alien NPC characters, Garrus, is in many ways the BFF of the MC, Commander Shepard.

    When I write BFFs, I like the BFF to be in some ways a foil, but in other ways complementary. For one to fill in the empty spaces of the other, and for them to be diametrically opposed whilst still being cut from the same cloth. It helps to think of them not in terms of characters, but in terms of people. One’s strength is another’s weakness, one’s flaws another’s perfection.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “and for them to be diametrically opposed whilst still being cut from the same cloth”

      I like that a lot. I think that’s what makes these relationships so compelling. Who doesn’t love a good bromance? 😉


  4. Pingback: Blogging From A to Z Challenge – Theme Reveal! | Allison Maruska

  5. The BFF can be hugely important in bringing out an aspect of the protagonist that otherwise is hidden or underdeveloped–making the serious kid more fun and funny, or the goofball more deep thinking, for example.

    The Harry / Ron / Hermione trio is a great one, especially because there’s some alchemy going on there–the friends act like quicksilver (Hermione — Hg) and brimstone (Ron – the redhead as sulfur) who gradually turn Harry into gold. (Not my original insight, but from The Hidden Key to Harry Potter by John Granger).

    Liked by 2 people

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