Tag Archives: Pride and Prejudice

What book would you bring to a deserted island if you were stranded and could only have only one?

(And I’m not talking about bringing the Kindle here, loaded with millions of titles. It’s a real, paper and ink book we’re discussing today.)

Tough question? Yes, it is, that’s why I’m asking it. You need to dig deep here, kids.

Answers could include everything from the Bible to War and Peace; David Copperfield to Gone with the Wind; Harry Potter book 1 to The fault is in our Stars.

Depending on what genre you like to read, it could be a non-fiction bestseller, an autobiography, a sports book or even Camping for Dummies (hey, you ARE stranded on a deserted island, you know.)

For myself it’s a no-brainer. I’d bring Pride and Prejudice.

Why would I bring a book whose story is over 250 years old, you ask. Well, I’m glad you did.

As a lover of romance novels – and a writer of the same – Pride and Prejudice for me is the penultimate story of love. It has everything a romance book should have: a strong female lead; a tortured, romantic hero, miscommunication, drama, betrayal, several black moments, a wonderful story-line, and most of all a happily ever after ending that endures for all time.

I think I’ve read this book – no lie – two dozen times since I was 11. The first time I read it the language gave me a bit of difficulty – hey, I was a  tween! – and I had trouble understanding some of the plot. I did think Mr Collins was odious, though, even at that tender age, a thought I still have to this day.

I read it again for high school English. This time around, though, I was able to gleam more about the plot and I remember wondering why Lizzy didn’t try to talk Charlotte out of marrying Mr Collins. If she was a true friend, she should have. I also remember it was at this time in my life I began to see Darcy for the hunkadoodledoo he was.

College brought the next reading and by now I loved Lizzy for her strength of character and her loyalty and – even though I knew the end of the story – I prayed she would wind up with Darcy and not the narcissistic Wickham.

The next several times I read the book were after relationship breakups. I’d read the book cover to cover while inhaling cartons of Milano cookies and Pepperidge farm layer cakes. Then I’d watch the BBC rendition with Colin Firth as Darcy. This always made me feel so much better and got me through the downside of the breakups.

After I was married and the Kiera Knightley movie version came out, I read it again a few times and was impressed with how easy it now was to understand the language. Much more so than when I was 11 and had an untrained English lit ear.

Through all of the re-reads, though, I have never once been disappointed with the story. I know some of the page dialogue by heart and can quote Lizzy’s infamous dismissal speech to Darcy verbatim. The story stands up to time and differing cultures, class and age group demographics.

If I could only take one book to read on that island until I was (hopefully) rescued, it would always be Pride and Prejudice.

And in the event I could take two…..

My most recent book, THE VOICES OF ANGELS.

Blurb:

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Love is the last thing Carly Lennox is looking for when she sets out on her new book tour. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine profile based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is ambitious, and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else. As he tells her, he’s a patient man. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. Carly Lennox is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him-may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.

Buy Links: Amazon /// TWRP /// Kobo /// Nook

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, First Impressions, Life challenges, Literary characters, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women, The Voices of Angels, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Who is your favorite Villain?

The person we love to hate; the man we’d like to see incarcerated for life; the woman who needs to be bitch-slapped right now. These are the characters we call Villains.

The true definition of a villain is: the person or thing responsible for specified trouble, harm, or damage.

In romance novels the villain can be:

  • the old flame who comes back into the hero’s life, flooding the heroine with doubts about his love
  • an ex-spouse, or co-worker, or a boss
  • a parent or family member who wants to break the hero and heroine up for any number of selfish reasons
  • ANYONE who has a vested interest in pulling the love interests apart.

Some of my favorite characters are what could be termed villains. They are all self -serving, narcissistic and (mostly) devoid of principles.

Here are a few of my favs:

Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice. The quintessential bitch in a ball gown.

Rochester’s first wife, Jane Eyre. Truly,  one insane biatch.

Briony Tallis, Atonement. (most people won’t agree with me on this one because Briony sets out to atone for her acts, but for much of the novel, she’s the bad guy, and therefore a villain in my mind.

Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca. The original psycho-bitch.

Iago, Othello. Master manipulator and jealous creepazoid.

The best villains I’ve ever read, though, are those characters everybody likes and would never suspect are performing acts of villainy. The good ‘ole southern girl in who’s mouth butter wouldn’t melt, while she’s backstabbing the s**t out of our heroine; the charming rake with a grin a soccer field wide who’s stripping the company’s bankroll bare. Walt Disney had this thing  for step-mothers cast in the role of villains – a true mommy complex if there ever was one. Ever see Dangerous Liaisons?  Best villains EVER.

And of course the best part of reading a book with a good villain is the scene where he/she gets their comeuppance. I live for Karmic payback scenes, absolutely live. Since I’m not quick on the witty repartee comeback ( I need to think and think…and think some more before it’s absolutely a perfect zinger), I appreciate people who are. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than seeing someone get what’s coming to them if they’ve been a rotter to our dear H/H. Remember the last scene in Dangerous Liaisons when Glenn Close gets booed and hissed at during the opera? I booed and hissed at the television right along with the pretend French people in the movie. I know…I’m a little off the beaten track, but hey: I’m happy.

So, dig into your memory banks. Who’s your favorite villain and why? Let’s discuss…

 

 

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What fictional character would you like most to be stuck in an elevator with?

I don’t even have to think about this one. As soon as I saw the question, Elizabeth Bennett’s name popped into my head faster than you could say…well…anyone else!

So here’s the set up. I’m on the elevator and by some time warp bend, Elizabeth Bennett gets on with me. I’m me, she’s…her. Because she was written over 200 years before I came on the scene, we’re a little differently dressed. I’m in jeans and an old Dartmouth hoodie, she’s in the typical garb of her day, parasol and reticule in hand. She nods and smiles pleasantly at me, then turns to face the elevator door forgetting I exist.

No way, Liz.

First and foremost, we need to have a little discussion about Wickham. For someone drawn as the “smart” one in the family, how come you were so blind to his narcissism? I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time at age 12 and even then I could tell he was a loser. You were a whole lot older than me when you first met him. You should have been able to see through his pretty-boy looks and brown-nosing ways. Think of all the heartache you could have saved your family if you’d told them all what a creep he really was.

Second, why oh why didn’t you tell Charlotte Lucas what a humongous mistake she was making by marrying Mr. Collins? You told the world she was your best friend, a compadre for life, and yet you let her lower herself by hooking up with one of the most unlikable, stupid –and by stupid I mean REALLY not smart – characters ever penned. Yes, I understand she felt he was the best she could do in life given her “advanced age and inadequate social status.” But Lizzy, a REAL friend would have told her to stand fast and never settle. Ever. Was it really so horrible she remain unmarried for the rest of her life? I know she didn’t want to be a burden to her parents, but really, Liz, you should have tried hard to convince her to reject his proposal.

Third. Okay, here we’re going to go a little deep. I have always wondered since the first time I read the book, did you fall in love with Darcy because you saw him for the man he really was, or because you wanted Pemberley? I know that’s a mean question because it puts into doubt your feelings for the man, but I really have been in a quandary about your motives. Seeing Pemberely for the first time, and Lydia’s defection, happened pretty much simultaneously. Can you separate the two occurrences? Did you ultimately fall for the man because he truly was the kind of man you wanted? Ask yourself, if Pemberely had been falling into ruin, would you still have wanted Darcy? If you had never seen Pemberely, would you still have wanted Darcy? If Pemberely were say, half the size, would you still have wanted Darcy? If Darcy had been the village cobbler, would you have wanted him? I know these questions are harsh, but I seriously have always doubted you truly loved him for just him and not all that he possessed.

Last, but surely not least. Your mother. Really? Did it never occur to any of you Bennetts to simply slap the s**t out her when she got into one of her ( daily) tizzies? I know medication was sparse back then, but I’d have been slipping laudanum into her morning tea every day and then in a toddy at night. How your poor father didn’t go insane with this woman is beyond me. Divorce was never an option back in your day, I get that. But seriously, she could have been sent away to Bath or anywhere where she could be hidden from public view.

Those are my questions to Lizzy.

What do you think she’d say?

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Filed under Author, Characters, Family Saga, First Impressions, Friends, Literary characters, love, Romance, RWA, Strong Women

So, who was your first FICTIONAL crush?

With the advent of boy bands, teen heart throbs, and movie bigger than life superheros, do any young girls-commonly called TWEENS- read nowadays? Other than the Twilight series, I mean? I remember vividly, long summer days spent on my bed or on a blanket at the beach, reading book after book. Summer was my favorite time as a tween because it meant no reading list from school. I could read what I wanted, when I wanted. I binged read Nancy Drew Mysteries like people binge watch on-demand television shows these days.

My first ever fictional school girl crush was Brian Beldon from the Trixie Beldon books. Trixie, a pre teen  like me, had two brothers, the oldest of who was Brian. Jet black hair and a winning grin, Brian wanted to be a **sigh** doctor. He was frequently the voice of almost-grown-up reason when Trixie got caught in her hair-brained snooping mysteries and I just thought he was “it” for me. I had no real-life boyfriends until I graduated from college, ( I know: late bloomer!) so I had to live vicariously through my fictional one.

And of course, this got me to thinking: Who are some of the most popular and beloved boyfriends in fiction. This could potentially be a hot button issue because true fans are devoted to the boys they feel are the absolute best, so here goes. In no best-to-least-best order

All these  boyfriends are good guys, do-gooders, love their girls, and treat them well. They love their girls so much they put up with mood shifts, dangerous jobs, evil warlocks and vampires, societal restrictions, financial setbacks, and even terminal cancer.

But through all the foibles and follies of dating, the end result is they simply love, support, and respect their girls.

What more could you ask for from a boyfriend?

So. Who was your first fictional crush?

 

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Here’s to Dads…everywhere. Real and fictional

We live in a society that for some reason values LISTS. My Google search this lovely father’s day morning was for the BEST DADS IN LITERARY FICTION. I had upward of 20,000 links I could have clicked on to. I chose a random 1o, and from those I whittled the names down to the dads who showed up on each list. I must admit, I was impressed – but not really surprised.

1. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockinbird. I’ll admit this even though it’s embarrassing, but I don’t know a great deal about Harper Lee’s background. I don’t know if this fictional father was based on her own, someone she knew, or a total compilation of her imagination of what she wanted in a father, but Atticus Finch, for me, is it. If I could have personally ordered a dad from God, this is the man I would have selected. Calm, patient, kind, smart, fair…the descriptors could go on and on, but the aspect  of Atticus Finch that I took away from the book was his incredible sense of morality and Godliness. He not only believes all men are equal, he lives and breathes it. He walks the walk, talks the talk, and backs up when he says with his every action. This, this, is the man I would have gladly thanked God for daily, if he were my father.

2. Mr. Bennett, Pride and Prejudice. Some people describe him as a sad-sack, a man married to a harpy who disappears from the world to his solitary library whenever the pressures of his wife, daughters, and life in general get too hard for him. Well, maybe that’s true. But it can not be denied Mr. Bennett loves his daughters and simply adores his second girl Lizzy. My favorite line- hands down-he delivers to Lizzy is this, and it shows how much he truly values her not only as a daughter, but as a woman as well: “I can not believe that anyone can deserve you.”  Call him what you will, but the man loves his daughter to no end.

3. Matthew Cuthbert, Anne Of Green Gables. While not exactly, biologically her father, Matthew is the first male during Anne’s formative young life who shows her kindness, acceptance, and ultimately the unconditional love of a “father.” It’s not often you read or hear of a confirmed, lifelong bachelor, set in his ways, who has an orphan thrust upon him and learns how to be a better person for it.  As Anne tells him, they are kindred spirits who found each other among all the people in the world.

After writing this, I realized the men listed above all had daughters. (Atticus had a son as well, but the book is Scout’s.)Maybe the reason why I am not surprised these three are top rated is because I am a daughter as well, and what daughter wouldn’t want a father with all the qualities of character these men possess. To be loved unconditionally; to be valued as a person; to be treated with respect and love in equal parts; to be guided through and into life; and to know there is always, always, someone right there who will protect, love and support you, is tantamount to my thought of the perfect person.

On this day we celebrate our fathers, the men who would be dads, and the special men who are as close to being fathers as can get, take a moment and think about what your dad means or meant to you. What qualities made him the man he is(or was) and for what kind of man do you think he would like to be remembered.

And then…call him, talk to him, give him a physical or spiritual hug. But most of all, acknowledge all he has done for you, simply because you are his little girl.

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A visit with Clair Brett

Hey all! I’ve chatting with NHRWA sistah Clair Brett today about falling in love in a love story. Stop on by and share your thoughts.

https://clairbrett.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/the-process-of-falling-in-love-in-a-romance-story-by-peggy-jaeger/comment-page-1/#comment-18

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Let’s have dinner…Who should we invite?

I saw this question on a blog recently:  what Literary character(s) would you like to have dinner with and why?

This is a great question to actually ask at a dinner party. Responses can be all over the board depending on how well-read your guests are and what age. I can see people in their very early twenties wanting to break bread with Katniss Everdeen or Ron Weasley. My literary tastes are somewhat more dated.

First and foremost, I’d like to sit next to Elizabeth Bennet, because I’d like to ask her to truthfully tell me, once and for all, did she fall in love with Darcy for Darcy, or for Pemberley? I’ve always been a little suspicious she really did love Darcy and that her opinions of him could change so abruptly just because he helped Lydia and the Bennet family. What, exactly, made her see him in such a different light, from the first time they were introduced, Pemberley aside?

I’d like to sit down next to Scarlett O’Hara and smack her in the head. What was she thinking? Here she’s got the original bad boy himself, Rhett Butler, all but drooling after he and she wants nothing to do with him. She pines for Ashley Wilkes, one of the most boring characters ever penned, and doesn’t see the hunkadoodle right in front of her pixie little face. What gives, Scarlett?

Breaking bread with Atticus Finch would be memorable. I’d really like to know how he came to be such a liberal thinker in a surrounding chock full of uber-moralistic and conservative viewpoints on race, color, and gender. I’d like to discuss his upbringing and ask about his parents. Did their opinions and beliefs help form him to be the man he was, or was there some internal moral compass driving him?

Sherlock Holmes is such a fascinating character that there are no fewer than three television shows devoted to him at the present time. In an age where police work was in its infancy, his brain and desire for truth at any cost can be viewed either in a positive light, or as the most simplistic narcissism imaginable. He truly believed he was the smartest man in any room, hands down. Humility didn’t exist in his vocabulary. I would love to discuss his toilet training, to discern where his total control evolved from.

Nancy Drew was the coolest character I ever read when I was 10. I wanted to be beautiful and smart like her, drive a Corvair, and just have everyone love me. She had the neatest dad, the handsomest boyfriend and the most loyal friends – in truth, she had everything I didn’t. I’d like to ask her how it felt to be so perfect. And I’d really like to hear her tell me she was far from it!

Jane Eyre. The original drama queen. Tragedy and misery follows poor, plain Jane everywhere she goes. A lousy childhood morphs into an oppressive adolescence that ends in a pitiable adulthood. Even the guy she pines for is a pain in the neck. I’d like to talk to her and ascertain if she’s one of those people who simply thrive on the drama. A day can’t pass without some sort of emotional deluge. 

Holly Golightly seems to be the girl you’d love to sit next to at dinner. Witty, bright and light conversation would abound from her and I’m sure if you were a man she’d make you feel as if you were the only one in her sphere. She is named so perfectly – go-lightly – which is how she flits through life, moving without stopping or settling down, flitting from person to person, relationship to relationship. I’d probably ask her about her toilet training as well. That fear of not holding on to anything or anyone had to come from somewhere!

Madeline. Ah, sweet Madeline. Never having attended one, I’d really like the low down dirt on what it’s like to live in a boarding school. You hear so many unseemly things about them, such as the abuse, the sexual escapades, the bullying. Did our poor, little Parisian girl go through any of these things? Or was life really how it was written for her – all unicorns, butterflies, and sunbeams? And what about Miss Clavel? There’s a hidden understory there and I’m just dying to know it!

Truly, if I sat next to any of the folks at a dinner, I don’t think I’d touch a bit of food. They’re all fascinating in totally individual and diverse ways.

How about you? Who would you like to break bead with if you could?

 

 

 

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The process of falling in love in a romance story

Storytellers use certain techniques to give their tales the most flavor and intrigue they can. The simple turn of a phrase, the order in which they divulge information, how the five senses are employed through the showing and telling of the story, are all ways writers tell a tale.

It’s no different, I feel, with a romance story.

How do your characters meet? Do they already know one another from their pasts? Are they friends of friends? Co-workers? Or do they glance across a Dunkin Donuts and see one another for the first time?

What past experiences have influenced how they see their present lives and how they deal with the people surrounding them? Are they receptive to love at this time, or do they shun it? Why?

Does one partner “fall” faster than the other, and if so, is it revealed or kept hidden?

Little physical nuances the characters show around one another and with no one else, provide clues to how fast and hard they are falling.

Now, take those characters, their backstories, and their present emotions, and weave a romance story around it.

It sounds a great deal easier to do than it really is. While many critics say romance stories are formulaic and predictable, there is nothing predictable about falling in love. Every human is different in how they think, react, emote, and live. It stands to reason the way they each fall in love is individual as well. A master storyteller is able to divine those differences, have the characters equipped with tools to overcome them, and create a happy ending for all involved.

In Pride and Prejudice, my all time favorite romance story, Elizabeth and Darcy fall for each other in totally divergent ways. You can see he is instantly attracted to her as a woman, but her station in life makes it hard for him to admit it to himself or anyone else. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Elizabeth despises him for most of the book. It is only when he reveals his true, kind self during the Wickham/Lydia incident, does she really get to know the person he is and her heart quite literally turns over for him. The obstacles they face of class difference and family connections make it a difficult road to happily ever after, but in the end, their love for one another helps them overcome these seemingly insurmountable problems.

Austin was a master storyteller in the way she doled out information about her characters to the reader. She shows Darcy, arrogant and haughty in his words and actions towards the Bennett family, so much so that most readers don’t like him for the first hundred pages or so. But when his softer, loving side is revealed in how he deals with his sister, we get a better feel of the true man he is. When Elizabeth is allowed to view this side of him, her heart begins to soften.

A true and gifted storyteller is able to make you think the hero and heroine will never get together, never be able to overcome the obstacles in their paths, never find that proverbial road to everlasting happiness. This is the old fashioned basis and tagline for a romance: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. When the hero and heroine finally make it to the last pages, the reader is rewarded doubly. First, with their hoped for happily ever after ending, and second, with the knowledge and satisfaction of watching two people struggle and yet still come out on top in the love department. This is the essence of a fabulously written romance.

Remember what it felt like when you fell in love for the first ( and hopefully last ! ) time. What was your story? A fast fall, or a slow, subtle buildup? Where you friends first? Co-workers? Committee members? Were you set up or did you meet by happenstance? All these little factors make your love story different from every other one, and THAT is the true process of a well written romance.

Check out how two pair of  my H/H Fell in love.

SKATER’S WALTZ  http://www.amazon.com/Skaters-Waltz-MacQuire-Women-Jaeger-ebook/dp/B00TBUK4XS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423442958&sr=8-1&keywords=skater%27s+waltz+by+peggy+jaeger

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THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME http://www.amazon.com/Theres-Place-Like-MacQuire-Women-ebook/dp/B00VU85CBI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428599275&sr=8-1&keywords=there%27s+no+place+like+home%2C+by+peggy+jaeger

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The Pressure of Opening Lines.

Recently, during a weekly on-line author chat with the publisher and editors of The Wild Rose Press, the topic up for discussion was how to hook a reader from the very first line/page of your book. It’s important to establish this hook because the reader spends on average 3 seconds deciding whether or not to buy the book. If you’ve only got 3 seconds – or less (Egads!) – you need something that’s got WOW FACTOR all over it – be it a great opening line or paragraph. You must engage the reader and compel them by doing so to purchase the book. I know for myself I have picked books up at the bookstore, read the back blurb and been intrigued enough to read the first few lines. Many times I have not purchased the book because the hype in the back didn’t translate to the story on the page. The hook was more a jab ( heehee) and didn’t land well with me.

Can you tell I watched Rocky last night? Sheesh!

Anyway…this got me to thinking: what are some of the most memorable lines in books?

Google and Wikipedia are quick, fun tools that have lists compiled for every conceivable thing. So I typed into a search, Best Opening Lines in Books and was virtually assaulted (get it?!) with book lines.

Here are some I recognized:

  • “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina 
  • “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  • Call me Ishmael – Herman Melville, Moby-Dick 1851
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen – George Orwell, 1984 ( 1949)
  • Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. – Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway ( 1925)
  • It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. – Sylvia Plath, the Bell Jar ( 1963)
  • In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together, – Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter ( 1940)
  • As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous verminous bug. – Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis ( 1915)

Everyone of these opening sentences immediately draws the reader into the story by giving them something to think about and a question or two to ask.

In the case of Moby-Dick, Call me Ishmael are three of the most recognized words in literature. Who is Ishmael? Why are we to call him that – does he really have another name but just wants to use Ishmael? Who is he talking to? These natural queries make you want to get answers to satisfy your curiosity. And the way to satisfy that curiosity is to…read the book!

In the 1984 line…. the clocks were striking thirteen… the reader immediately knows something is off because clocks DON’T ( as a rule) strike thirteen. Why are they doing so in this story? And what is the significance of them striking thirteen times? Is something going to happen? Or did it already and the thirteen is the announcement of it? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thinking back on the first lines I’ve written, I know in my heart some of them haven’t been filled with the wow factor – something I will work on arduously in 2015. With the plethora of books to choose from on-line, in bookstores and the library, a writer has to stake their claim on the reader’s attention IMMEDIATELY. No small task, but a worthwhile endeavor. And the payoff is a memorable book ( and a sale!)

Here’s the first line of my new release THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, available right now!!

 

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The Power of Friends… in Literature

Where would Nancy Drew be without George Fayne? Where would Huck Finn have wound up without Tom Sawyer? Scarlett may have derided her, but Melanie Wilkes was her best friend hook, line,  sinker and soul. What about Elizabeth Bennett and Charlotte Lucas? Without Charlotte, Lizzy may just have wound up married to the horrible Mr Collins. Charlotte did her a solid by marrying the little worm. Harry Potter,  Ron Weasley and even Hermione,  were the best of ‘mates. And dear God, could we have had Sherlock Holmes without John Watson?

In my last post I talked about my friends and what having them in my life means to me. Literature is  chock-full of besties and we are all better for having shared in their friendships, albeit second  hand.

Friends in literature serve so many purposes aside from simply being  “a friend.” They are foils for one another’s characters; sounding boards for ideas, problems, and resolutions; cheerleaders and soul soothers, and best of all, the true  friend will always steer you in the right direction when you are going the wrong way, tell you if you have spinach in your teeth, and hold your hair back when you need to vomit. This last one is literally and theoretically!

My two favorite books of all time are Gone with The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Both are rife with the beauty and detail of friendship. In both, the main characters of Dorothy and Scarlett need to find their way: home and in life. The TinMan, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow all help Dorothy face trials, tests,  and tribulations in order to find her way back  to Kansas, to Auntie Em’s loving care, and to discover her heart’s desire. Scarlett is Melanie’s opposite in every way, except in their love for Ashley, and in  this opposition of character details, each woman brings out the best in the other. Despite what many historians have postulated, I really do think Scarlett’s road to redemption begins when she brings Melanie back to Tara after the birth of Beau. She risks her life to make sure they all get home safe and sound. Whether you believe it is for a selfish reason, such as ensuring Ashley knows Scarlett helped his wife, or  – like me – because deep down Scarlett was truly a good and loyal person, their relationship ( Scarlett and Melanie’s) is the strongest and most enduring in the novel.

When a writer creates friends, he/she needs to know what each friend brings to the relationship table. It’s simply not enough to have the main character have friends. They serve purposes, both positive and negative, and these purposes enrich the novel and the character’s quest. They play off one another, spark ideas between them, and – such as in the case of Holmes and Watson – better the lives of the people surrounding them. Ron and Hermione show Harry Potter that people do care about him -not because he is a wizard – but because he is a person with feelings and desires, just like they are. Sharing triumphs, failures, tears, and joy are just some of the emotions friends go through together.

Think about your favorites books. What are the friend relationships like? Is the book made better because of them?  What does each friend bring to the relationship table for the main character? When you write, think about these facets. Your book will be richer for it, and sound more true-to-life.

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