Friends, Allies and Enemies — Who They Are & How To Portray Them

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Karyn Connor

Senior Editor @ GoneWithTheWord

The part of the Hero’s Journey that always tripped me up was the Allies and Enemies portion. 

I get the basic elements of how to create enemy characters. Enemies are the proverbial scary monsters who want to destroy or devour the hero either physically or metaphorically. Or, on a more subtle level, they are the snotty upstart colleagues who sabotage the hero’s efforts in success.

Sure, those are easy. But how does the hero befriend a stranger? Or turn an enemy into a potential ally?

It occurred to me in one of those holy crap moments that I don’t know how to make friends. No, I’m not a dumb blond (most of the time anyway). So how did I miss this grand revelation for so long?

By having lots of friends. The reason I was able to miss out on the basic courting rituals of friendship is that most of my friends are extroverts who befriended me. I more acquiesced rather than aggressively acquired friendship.

Now the question is: What process does my protagonist need to use to befriend other characters and create allies?

I’m a researcher by trade so I hit the pavement (uh, keyboard). Here’s what I found are the best tactics and tricks to initiating friendships and creating allies:

  1. Common interests. Find what’s common between you and the other person. Sometimes this is obvious such as you’re the only two (wo)men in the room. Sometimes it is subtler such as your both have the same guilty pleasure like silent movies on a rainy afternoon.
  2. Common friends or enemies. Just like having solid references helps you get a better job, so does having solid social references help you fast-track friendship building. On the flip side is the old adage: an enemy of thy enemy is thy friend.
  3. Offer help. This is especially effective when it’s neither expected nor asked for. For example, in the British drama Downton Abbey, the outcast Tom Branson is brought into the aristocratic fold when he helps mend the unraveling engagement between the Lordship’s daughter and her fiancé.  
  4. Show support or appreciation. This is also especially effective when it’s neither expected nor asked for. For example, having someone who is a friend tell you that your work presentation was a smash success is nice. Having a perceived enemy tell you that your work presentation was a smash success (especially if said begrudgingly) holds more weight and can be a first step towards becoming allies or friends.

Keep in mind though, these are the initial steps. Once friends or allies are acquired, they require nurturing and continued energy to be maintained. Or, once you have flipped an enemy into an ally, you must still remain on guard for returns to old tricks, or someone else flipping them back.

#BeBold, by Karyn Connor is available noweBook and Paperback

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