It may be because my very first novella (‘Getting Off’) was a friends-to-lovers story, but every one of the L.A. Stories has a strong friendship component. My protagonists almost all have at least one key friendship that’s brought out in the story. This is generally because I think a person needs someone to talk to who is not also a lover. Michelle (‘Chrome’) talks to Kelli (‘All the Bars at Sunset’), and Julia (‘Mating Dance’) talks to Michelle. Sometimes the friends are also family: Tyrone (‘Chai at Midnight’) talks to his adult kids; Kelli talks to her sister; Mateo (one of the heroes of ‘Beat’) talks to his sister.
Occasionally the friendships in the stories have gotten so interesting that I’ve ended up writing about both sides. Tyrone is essential to the Underground Cabaret, the fictional dance company of which Michelle and Rory (‘Stripped’) are members. Danny (‘Speed Date’) is friends with James (‘Vintage’). Vince (‘All the Bars on Sunset’) is friends with Vicky (‘Getting Off’). Vince, in fact, is where I first realized this might turn into a series. When I turned my original ‘Getting Off’ screenplay into a novella, Vince wasn’t very important. He was a convenient plot point. But in the first major rewrite, he became a real person for me … at which point I knew he needed his own story.
Vince is one of those characters who turn out to be a key figure. He is friends with Sam (‘Beat’), Diego (‘A Random Sequence’), Ray (‘Mating Dance’), and Michelle, as well as Vicky. He is also important in my long work-in-progress novel, and will soon be appearing in at least one other novel.
Things happened a little differently in a recent pair of stories. ‘The Whole Truth’ was always about Stella and Frank, but Stella’s friend Tina has a lot of personality. My beta reader asked me for a story about Tina, and now we have ‘Drawn Out.’ In writing Tina’s story, I realized her lover Reza needed a friend. That friend turned out to be Nick (‘Set Dressing’).
There are lots of ways to bring friendship into a story. For me, it’s most often because my protagonist needs that person to talk to, as when Charlene (‘Benchwork’) meets up with her friend Dana (‘Stripped’). Sometimes the relationship is based on past romance (as with Red and Tanith of ‘Million Dollar Death’ and ‘Green Man Walking’). Sometimes friends are also colleagues: Lucy (‘Set Dressing’) meets up with her friend Andy (‘Exposure’) about furnishing his set for a photo series; Marco (‘Toward Love’) is mentored by Tanith.
Most often it’s based on just liking each other a lot, as with Juan (‘Benchwork’) and his friend Sal, or Kenji (‘Chrome’) and his friend Dmitri. This is pretty much how I’ve observed real-life friendships to work. One thing I don’t have in these stories is the friend who betrays or undermines. My protagonists have friends who are supportive. I know the other thing does exist, but in a novella-length romance, I’d rather devote my time and space to the love story.