Monday, May 11, 2015


You know what I don't see much of in books? People who don't like each other but are stuck pursuing a common goal. It is comedy gold and a really beautiful opportunity for character growth, but it had not occurred to me until just a few days ago that I should be taking advantage of this beautiful dynamic. I am definitely going to include it in my next book, but I thought in the meantime I'd talk about a few frenemy pairings that I really love.

Buffy and Cordelia

Cordelia is the self-appointed society queen at Sunnydale High and in comes Buffy who doesn't care about all that because she is busy fighting the vampires, but somehow Cordelia always ends up in the middle of it, snobbing her way along and learning and growing. Several times Buffy and Cordelia have to actually work together or DIE... it is great humor at first, but that growth stuff eventually makes it emotional and we are rooting for reformed Cordy.

Joss Whedon uses this a lot. Even just within Buffy there is also Buffy and Faith and Buffy and Spike. Or on Firefly there is Jayne with just about anyone...

Legolas/Gimly (at least initially)

The Fellowship of the Ring needed representatives from the different peoples, but dwarves and elves are notoriously anti-the-other. It really because noticeable when nine was narrowed to three. Loved their banter.

Percy Jackson and Clarisse

Not many people in the Half Blood Camp like Percy, but Clarice is a special kind of bully. Daughter of Aries, she is made for war, not love, and she is not thrilled to have a son of the “big three” (Zeus, Poseiden and Hades are sort of a tier above the other gods) show up. Needless to say there is a TON of posturing, but eventually Percy needs her and manages to convince her to help.

Dorian and Vicky (from One Life to Live)

You may not be soap fans and the show has been off the air for two years now, but these two divas from rival rich families, having affairs with each other's family members and friends... (you know soaps) but the show gave them some brilliant moments of danger where they had to work together and they were comedic gold and tear jerkers all in one.

Soap operas broadly have made good use of this: competing divas. Whether the day soaps or the prime time ones.

Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire has a couple pairs

Brienne/Jaime: originally captor and captive and a rather mean back and forth but Brienne earns the respect of the snob and they grow to respect each other (is it love? The jury is still out but I think it miight be).

Arya/The Hound: Again, captive/captor but he becomes a sort of twisted mentor to her, teaching her survival skills she very much needs.

In all these cases there is a giant benefit from the comedy potential and the character growth possible from having to learn to work with someone a character doesn't like. Who are your favorite frenemies?

So I am not doing a second blog this week as I have travels for work but I will be back Monday for the blood, boobs and violence blogfest!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great examples, here! This is something I haven't really explored (I've just done friendships that go on the rocks occasionally). Safe travels!

mshatch said...

Those are some excellent examples. The only one I'm not familiar with is the Percy and Clarrise. I need to remember this.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great examples. Legolas and Gimli were a funny pair. Han Solo and Leia didn't like each other in the beginning. That turned into even more than friendship.

Chrys Fey said...

That's right! I see that all the time in movies but not in books. Maybe it's easier to portray frenemies in movies than books? Hmm...

Anonymous said...

I love frienemies! It is a really good thing for character growth. I loved Cordelia, seriously she was the best! I also really like Jaime/Brienne. I hope they hook up and just leave all the crazy stuff behind. I can't think of any frienemies right now..

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Lots of TV shows do that very well. One of my favorite shows, Once Upon a Time, has a few matchups who become friends after being enemies who work together.

Andrew Leon said...

Enemy Mine?
That movie where the dudes are handcuffed together.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Liz A. said...

That is a good point. Frenemies are comedy gold. And they make for a great tension on the page.

Helena said...

You're onto something here--TV shows and movies often use the frenemies approach, but few books do this. But then screenplay writers emphasize that there should be conflict in every scene (including conflict with the self, etc.). I think Charlaine Harris' True Blood books has frenemies all over the place, which may be a big reason why I like them so much.

Mia Hayson said...

These are the best examples. I love how important Cordelia was in Buffy as a character.... like sure she was a side character but an important one even though they were frenemies.

For a while, Jace and Simon in The Mortal Instruments are frenemies and I really enjoyed that too. There's something real about seeing a character get rubbed the exact wrong way while having to learn to deal with it.


S. L. Hennessy said...

Can by for the Blood, Boobs and Carnage blogfest, but saw Buffy and Cordelia and had to check it out! Love frenemies in stories, particularly the ones you've chosen here (Buffy, LOTR and Percy picked ALL my favorites!).