Monday, July 16, 2012

Character Profiles: The ex-bff

Guest post by Kathryn.
Bio: I enjoy to read, write, and volunteer with special needs kids. I've been published in Stone Soup, and am super excited to be published on TWFT!

In a lot of books I’ve read, I notice that a lot of the time, there’s a best friend that:

  • Isn’t let on to the MC’s magical powers, gets mad, and refuses to be the best friend anymore.
  • Get’s jealous of the MC (or the MC gets jealous of them) and the two characters fight, and aren’t best friends anymore.
  • Starts to hang out with popular people, the MC gets mad, and the two fight, and they aren’t best friends.

I haven’t mentioned all of the possible situations, but they all end in basically one way: The two characters aren’t best friends anymore.

Now, this does happen in real life. And it is a great added dimension to a story, because most readers usually want the characters to make up, which keeps them reading to find out if they do.
But it isn’t the fact that characters in books are constantly fighting and finding new friends, it’s what happens after the fight that bothers me.

First of all, let me say I have nothing against the ex-BFF character. They add a whole new problem to the story, because the ex-BFF probably has lots of good rumors and trouble they can cause for the MC.
But, sometimes the way the ex-BFF goes about doing this is just a bit....unrealistic. For instance, in one story I read, the ex-BFF put an article in the school newspaper (which an adult proofread), that revealed all of these embarrassing things about the MC.
When I’d first read the chapter, I was all, “Oh, I feel so bad for her” (by her I mean the MC) but then, I started to think about the actual details.
One thing I realized, was that the actual event of putting a humiliating article in a school newspaper would be impossible. As I’d mentioned before, a teacher read the final draft of the newspaper before it was released to the kids. So, unless the teacher had something against the MC (which she didn’t) it would be entirely impossible to let the article be read by kids without the teacher reading it. But, later in the book, the teacher says she’d never read the article.
And, for another thing, there are kind kids out there who would probably go ambush the ex-BFF, and that would be the end of her hurtful reign.

Another thing in the whole making a realistic ex-BFF, is the popular people thing.
I will admit, I have encountered some snobs that were popular. But, not all popular people are mean. The dictionary definition of the word popular is: Widely liked or appreciated. This basically means that a synonym for popular is: nice.
So, why does every book have to bash popular kids? I think, personally, that it’s a fun subject to write about. And, yes, it is! The hard part is doing it realistically.
OK. Let’s use a plotline I wrote.

Lola and Jewel were best friends. Then, suddenly Jewel starts hanging out with the popular kids, and Lola’s left in the dust. As Jewel starts to pull away from Lola, and do things with her new friends, Lola can’t help remembering how mean Jewel’s new friends were to them in the past.
What will Lola do? Will Jewel become popular, or will she and Lola be BFFs again?

The plot line itself isn’t that bad. It’s just the way it’s written. About how the “popular kids” are mean (which, I know a lot are) and how it sort of poses a question at the end, when the answer is kind of predictable: they make up.

It isn’t that a good ex-BFF is bad, it’s that they can be very tacky. The harsh truth is that friends make new friends, though the new friends may not be popular, and sometimes friends don’t make up. And I hope someday, I’ll find a book with that perfect contrast

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