I was thinking today about all the wonderful friends I have right now and those I’ve had throughout the years. It’s quite amazing how people become good friends. Who chooses whom? Do you know what I mean? I have met women that within minutes, I knew we would be friends. There is this certain chemistry which is hard to explain. It goes beyond what we have in common because I have absolutely nothing in common with some of my best friends. I enjoy their differences and for some unknown reason, they enjoy mine. Go figure!
I have friends who suffer from depression but we are able to laugh together. One friend happens to be a big-time hypochondriac and when we get together, we share our aches and pains. She knows the name of every brand of medication from the cure for headaches to the diet for diverticulosis. If I’m not feeling well, she is the one who shows the most empathy.
Four years ago, I met up with my first roommate after many years of not seeing each other or keeping in touch. We shared the attic suite in an old house back in 1963! What did we do when we got together? We laughed and acted like we were twenty again. It was so easy to pick up where we left off.
Ah, but what is the connection to writing? It is wonderful to write about friends. The two main characters in my Parson Cove mystery series are best friends – lifelong friends. And, they are as opposite as chalk and cheese.
As lovely as it would be to write solely about the fun and enjoyment best friends share, there is always a need for conflict. Believe it or not, a book gets quite boring if everything is always hunky-dory. So, we need to create a character that stirs our emotions in other ways. If we’re writing a mystery, we obviously don’t want to end up loving the killer and feeling disappointed when he or she gets caught. We might love them at the beginning of a story but as the story unfolds, we have to see some characteristics that we don’t particularly like. We also have to see the imperfections in the good characters; otherwise it would be too easy to pick out who ‘did it.’
No matter how wonderful we think people are, we know we all have our shortcomings. For example, Mabel Wickles, my protagonist in my cozy mystery series, even irritates me sometimes. Why is she so snoopy? Why does she get herself into such dangerous situations? And then, there’s Flori Flanders – why does she cry over every little thing?
And my wonderful friends? They are also imperfect – just like me! I am forever grateful that they overlook my shortcomings and love me as I am.