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).
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?