Ana muses about the physics of best friend secondary characters.
Back in my teens, I wanted to be an astronomer. In college, I tried to major in physics but lacked adequate proficiency in calculus. I still devour scientific articles about scientific discoveries. Did you hear about the recent sighting of an earth-like planet in a galaxy far, far away?
Yesterday, I free-associated the letter I with Isotopes. Isotopes are variations of atomic elements with the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus. And because I am writing Act 1of my WIP and have introduced my main characters, I segued to secondary characters.
Secondary character friends serve a similar purpose. They interact regularly with the main character. They point out holes in the main character's reasoning, question his choices, and prod her into taking action.
The best friend is like Carbon-12, which makes up nearly all of the carbon on earth. Best friend characters are stalwart, dependable, always there to lend a hand or a shoulder. They are quick to counter the heroine's faulty reasoning about the hero.
Carbon-13 is much more rare. Marine researchers use this element to help determine which plants different sea creatures eat. It's like the mentor who offers insight and advice at critical moments in a story.
Then there's Carbon-14, the rare cosmically-generated radioactive isotope, whose half-life is used for dating fossils and bones millions of years old. In writing, the prescient herald announces something is about to happen, so get ready.
Others carbon isotopes are allies, ready to play bit parts that propel a scene forward. The wry doorman. Blunt bartender. Caring co-worker. Supportive sister. Isotopic variations of the secondary character.