Getting inspiration from friendship
Friendship is as inspiring as the memory of old love affairs. Our friends can help us write. Sometimes it’s because of something we did together. And sometimes it’s because we want to honor them.
For stories which need a lot of names, why not ask your friends whether they want their names used? I’ve come up to people and asked, “Can I kill you in my novel?” People usually love this. Bonus – when you write about them or you publish, or if you post a quote, be sure to tag them. Because your best friend from sixth grade will probably be thrilled (but ask, in case they aren’t).
And if you’re going to make a friend a villain, be particularly careful about asking permission. A suggestion: for truly villainous villains (e. g. sadists and despots), don’t use friends’ names. For my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel, I needed to populate a space ship with crew members. Some got more screen time (page time, I suppose) than others. Asking whether I could use my friends’ names was the fastest and easiest way to populate the ship. Furthermore, it paid dividends with social sharing because so many people were tagged.
Characteristics and Quirks
Why do we love our friends? Is it how they play poker? How they sing? Their love of the same fandom we love? Then find a way to adapt these details and put them in your work. It can be something as simple as a man stroking his mustache or a woman’s Kentucky accent. Maybe your friends collect stamps or they run track. All of these are good details. Of course, don’t spy on your friends and take extensive notes. But you know these people well. You have already observed their teddy bear collections and their overly full makeup drawers. You don’t have to spy.
Did you and your friend meet in some interesting manner? Did you bond over something funny? Then ask, can I adapt this for my novel? And I say ask – don’t assume. Because some people may feel that’s overly private.
Be respectful, of course. And your friends might not want their memories used for writing fodder. So ask! And if they allow it, do be sure to thank them. The acknowledgements section of your book is a great place for that.