Straight talk from the sisters about blood, sweat and ink
Masterplots Theater: B is for Buddy Love
Hope you’re back in your comfy chair and ready for another episode of Masterplots Theater! Perhaps you’ve been contemplating a story idea that has two compelling lead characters and can’t decide which is the true hero. Well, I have good news for you — maybe you don’t have to choose! Today we study a masterplot that has two heroes: Buddy Love.
“What “Buddy Love” movies are really all about: My life changed for having met another.” — Blake Snyder, Save the Cat!® Goes to the Movies, pg 134.
Buddy Love Plot Notes:
The essential element of this master plot is the two protagonists or co-heroes.Basically, this pair must meet for the story to happen, regardless of all the other things taking place in the plot. The Buddy Love plot can be funny, romantic, action-packed, suspenseful, you name it, as long as the point of the story is the two main characters’ relationship.
It’s crucial that these co-heroes are incomplete without each other. They may not know it yet, but it’s true. This is not one person’s journey, or a coming-of-age tale aided by a mentor character, this is a story about two people who change each other’s lives. And because they each change (aka have a character arc), both are protagonists/heroes.
Co-hero character arcs operate in tandem, though they are separate. What I mean by this is that each character has inner conflicts independent of the other character, but the act of coming together to tackle external conflicts helps both deal with their issues.
Because of all this, co-heroes carry equal narrative weight in the story. In a movie, both characters get the same amount of scenes; one does not have more screen time than the other. In books, this means that POV time is split equally between each character.
Regardless of the genre (cop drama, comedy, action adventure), every Buddy Love plot arc is a gradual realization that the buddies are not as good apart as they are together.
And finally, the big central question of the Buddy Love masterplot is: Will the buddies overcome the obstacle and be together in the end?
Example to Study:
Snyder studies LETHAL WEAPON in his Save The Cat series. This movie is an excellent example of Buddy Love, and one of the most commonfilm tropes – cops who start as enemies end as best buds. Other film examples of Buddy Love are THELMA & LOUISE, WAYNE’S WORLD and RAIN MAN. However, I’m going to chose to examine the one novel I’ve read that I believe fits into this masterplot, albeit a little differently:
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein
· CO-HEROES: Two young women meet by chance and, though they’re very different, develop a friendship that changes each of their lives’ paths. This story is told from Verity and Maddie’s POVs, though it’s not the usual alternating scenes split – the first half is Verity’s telling, and the second half is Maddie’s. If you’ve read the book you’ll know why this is.
· PLOT: At first glance, this book is about WWII and two women’s roles in it, but by the end it’s clear this is ultimately a story of a friendship so deep it can only be classified as Buddy Love.
· CHARACTER ARC: Both heroines have their own story, told completely separately in fact, but the influence of the other character is clear in every scene. As the story unfolds, the reader sees how these two young women transformed into different and better people because of their friendship.
· CENTRAL QUESTION: Without giving much away, I’ll just state that I believe that Verity and Maddie do overcome the obstacles, though not in a traditional happily-ever-after way. But they did it, and because of their efforts, the good guys win. As for the together forever part? Their friendship does last forever, even if [spoiler alert] one of their lives doesn’t.
I recommend reading Blake Synder’s Save the Cat!® Goes to the Movies for all kinds of examples of Buddy Love. He even breaks it down into Pet Love (films like FREE WILLY, BLACK BEAUTY), Rom-Com Love (WHEN HARRY MET SALLY), Epic Love (TITANIC), and Forbidden Love (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN). *NOTE: Romances can be Buddy Love, but only if the characters are co-heroes. If the story is told mainly from one character’s POV, then it’s a classic romance.
Thank you for joining us today! We hope you enjoyed B is for Buddy Love and we invite you back Monday for our next installment of Masterplots Theater: C is for The Chosen One.
Please share your own favorite Buddy Love stories or tips in the comments below. I know there must be many novels out there that fit into this masterplot (I just haven’t had time to read them yet).
Heather is a freelance screenwriter, game writer, and novelist based in Toronto. For more, visit her website at heatherjacksonwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @HeatherJacksonW
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