As I was writing up an outline of all the reasons I love writing and being a writer, I listed having writing friends as one of the perks. But then that category got some of its own subpoints, and I figured writer friends ought to have their own post. Rest assured as a writer having writerly friends is awesome, but I think they deserve mention in their own post. Because they are awesome and amazing and I love them all. Writer friends can fangirl over your darling characters as much as you do (sometimes more) and they're there to listen to you fangirl and squeal over the characters. And they're also there to offer advice when your stuck, and in turn you're there to help them too.
See what I mean? Fellow writer friends are amazing. So here's lots of reasons exactly why they're so awesome.
Character role-plays. I want to first explain that this is not like role-playing you might read from a book and play with a pair of dice. This kind of role-play is not that kind, let us be clear. This kind is where you write, like a collaborated novel, with a friend and let your characters from your own novels explore this new situation they've been thrust into. All that's required is the written word and an imagination going back and forth. Kind of like those old text-based adventures, a little.
I probably do these as much I do actual writing. These are awesome fun, and if you haven't tried one you should. Grab your writer friend and throw your characters together into wacky scenarios. For example, one friend and I role-played the entirety of the 2004 film version of Phantom of the Opera with our characters, songs and all. We added a touch of our own characters' personalities mixed with their role-played roles. It was awesome and there were feels. The characters even had an after-party. But we don't talk about the "Notes?/Prima Donna" track.
Just... just no.
But character role-plays are also useful to a writer, because we can explore our characters beyond the novels. Situations might make new reactions arose, and we learn more about our characters and their personalities, interests, or weaknesses.
Related to character role-plays are the fun alternate universes (or AUs). These can be awesome and sometimes hilarious. One of the AUs I've done with a friend includes her novel's villain, and the sister of my novel's villain. He is a power-hungry demon, and she is a seductive elf. They have wed and now have two children, twins, and it's terrifying and awesome. The children have not fallen far from the tree.
Sending characters all over the timelines of another character in character role-plays can get chaotic. It can get as timey-wimey as Doctor Who and never makes sense a lot of the time, but it's still really fun and you're able to explore your created world a little more, even meeting characters that populate it outside of the novel. Meeting those character fleshes out your world more when you know you have other named characters living in it even though they don't make any appearances in your story.
It's also fun to simply discuss alternate universe possibilities. One friend and I mused over what might have happened if the older brother of one of her characters had arrived in my fantasy world, instead of that character. What would have happened then? How would things have gone? You get to explore your character's ways of reacting to these life-changing events and get a better understanding of them.
And sometimes AUs can even become actual canon, no longer just an alternate universe. One of my friends (the one mentioned above) has a character that, originally, wasn't going to live. But then we learned that her character and mine had a mutual interest. But it has quickly blossom into a full relationship. We worked out portal kinks and magic and all that and got those two together, since my friend originally had no future use for this character. Now, her character makes an appearance in my novel, and we have planned out her entire future with my character. It's been really fun, planning their lives together, complete with the number of children they'll have and pet names they have for each other.
Writerly discussions. These are great and really insightful. You and your writer friends can discuss and explore characters, and you can glean from their minds different writing techniques. Having lots of different writer minds gives you lots of different aspects of writing. Some people might specialize in worldbuilding, others in characters, and still others in plot arcs or themes. You can learn new things from them all and get better in your own writing. And you also never know what you'll learn next. It can be really random with us writers sometimes.
Writer friends also make excellent critique groups. It's great to be able to have friends you can go to for critiques and advice on your stories who will look at it as both writer and reader. They'll give you their honest opinions (hopefully) and point out what parts could use improvement, or what places were well done. Even the praise helps you learn, knowing what was done well so you have an idea of how it could done the next time.
I had a few of my friends read a short story aloud, as a school assignment, and then critique it. Two girls read the dialogue for the two characters, and the third girl narrated. It was productive for me, learning what worked and what needed improvement. It was also hilarious, as the two characters were a boy and girl in a dating relationship. Nothing could be read with a straight face at many points of the story.
You can have the weirdest, yet "informative" discussions that would concern other people. Writers can go from discussing the possibility of breaking a person's ear to wondering what sounds a person with no tongue can make.
Yes, it's weird. But don't be alarmed or worried for our sanity. We writers are weird, but we've embraced it. It's best to just nod and smile.
Writers taunt each other with spoilers. It can be agonizing to not know something about a friend's novel but know that something is gonna happen. Something will happen to your favorites, and it's probably something bad. I was beta reading a novel for a friend, and the climax was a mystery to me and I had no idea how the characters would be affected (only that most likely they would be traumatized or injured in some way). When this occurs between writers, we might haves texts that go like this:
Friend: *writes* …I'm so, so sorry. >:}
And, in vain, we demand:
Me: WHAT DID YOU DO
And that is how you can antagonize your writerly friends and make their hearts worry for their favorite characters. It's fun, but also that little tinge of genuine worry and suspicion.
|There is truth in this. >_>|
You can bounce ideas and plans for your novel off of them. When I was writing my novel's first draft, I went to one of my friends often to essentially fangirl over what had just happened in the story. But I also went to her on occasion needing to know the consequences of a certain scenario I had in mind. A fresh pair of objective eyes on plans like this can help pinpoints issues you might not have seen. She offered suggestions and prompts to get me thinking. She's been amazing at that, and it's helped me make sense of events and characters.
They keep you focused. When you're discouraged or frustrated with your work, especially a first draft, they can keep you focused. My friend reminded me a lot that it's only a first draft. While I still whined, she still reminded me. It helped. She taught me that it's okay if your first draft looks like a pile of messy chaos.
So writer friends are awesome. They can be supportive, and in turn they receive your support. They're also people you can be weird with and know all these weird things other people would be concerned that we know. We learn from each other, in discussion or in play, or even with the weird things. But it's awesome, and I love it.
Images courtesy of Pinterest.