How do people make friends? School, work and hobbies often form the basis of meeting people – places where you meet regularly or have a shared interest. Small children are much better at making friends than adults, I mean, walking up to someone in the supermarket and saying “Will you be my friend” like a child in the playground, just isn’t appropriate! It can even be difficult within clubs, like sports groups, to form friendships that stretch beyond the group itself.
Having moved around a lot myself, I can empathise with the protagonist of my novel. She moves from living in isolation in a rural setting, dependent on and immensely close to her grandmother; to living and working in a thriving castle town. It is a closed community and she is the outsider. But make friends she does – and I can used some of my own experiences to enliven those of Annabella.
Try it yourself as a writing activity: take one of your characters and have them meet someone new, developing a new friendship. Remember what this has been like for you – perhaps you will write a scene reminiscent of your early school days, perhaps your character will meet a kindred soul, bonding over something random like turning up to work in the exact same dress or tie as the person on the desk opposite. As with any writing activity, the trick is not to self-edit or censor as you go along – just write!
If you need some inspiration, Wiki’s ‘How to anything’ website offers 24 ways to make friends.
Today I am creating Annabella’s friendship with Marketa. I know so much about why they became friends and what happens to their friendship, but have no idea how the friendship actually began. I think using my own experiences of new friendships might facilitate this part of Annabella’s story. Here we go:
“Annabella, wait!” called a voice behind me.
I have finally been given quarters within the castle and am dashing off to gather my belongings from the Losch’s house. Though it is not yet summer, the days are getting longer and there’s still enough light left to navigate the streets. This is a bonus – I don’t want to spend another night at the Losch’s if I can help it.
Turning around, I see Marketa running to catch me up. “I’ll help you with your things,” she says.
She’s quite pretty and gets more attention from the boys than I would like. I already know that she is popular, with her bright and bubbly personality, she seems to be friends with all the village girls. I’ve seen her in the market and in the castle from time to time, but she’s never made any attempt to speak with me and I wonder why she is being so kind now.
“Thanks, that’s really nice of you, but you don’t need to do that.” I’m suspicious of strangers; it’s a side-effect of living in isolation with Gram.
“I don’t need to, but I want to…that is unless you think you can carry it all yourself tonight!”
She’s got a point, it will take me more than one trip on my own, and I risk not having everything moved before darkness descends. I am really excited to live within the castle and I don’t want to waste a moment.
“Well, thanks. Are you sure you have time to help me?” I would hate to ask for help and hope I’m not inconveniencing her.
“Come on, we’ll have it done in no time, and you can tell me all about yourself as we go.”
As it turns out, we are both only children, both sent to work in the castle at a young age, both love the flowers and perfumes of the castle garden, both dislike the royal doctor. She tells me about the cloak bridge and the views and fresh air from there and how sometimes she sneaks up there when the sun is setting, just for a moment’s peace and quiet. And we talk about boys, well one boy, Zikmund. We both agree that he is by far the most attractive boy in the village. I tell her that he is far too aware of his good looks, that his position of privilege makes him blind to the plight of others, that he is too self-absorbed, like Narcissus. So when she says that he is the boy she likes most of all, I don’t tell her of my involvement with him. I feel like a traitor, an impersonator. I am not quite sure why I have withheld information from her, but by the time we return to the castle, I am acutely aware that I have.
“This was fun!” she tells me, beaming. “Do you want me to stay and help you set your room up?”
“No, it’s fine,” I tell her. I feel somehow ashamed, like I am keeping a secret from her. “I’m exhausted actually. I think I’ll turn in now and get sorted later.”
“Well, now we know each other. It is so nice to have a friend here, in the castle. We can sneak off to the cloak bridge together!”
She gives me a quick hug and is gone. I am conflicted, but elated to have made a friend. I’m sure not telling her about Zikmund will amount to no big thing.
Phot credit: Alone
Photo credit: Friends