Saturday, February 28, 2009


I'm my current WIP, I'm working on the section where I introduce the foil for the hero. A foil is a person who contrasts with and so emphasizes the characteristics of another. Trouble is, in the heroine's mind, she thinks they are the same (even down to the same cologne). So my challenge is to present the foil in such a light that she can see the difference, but only after perhaps being swayed in his direction.

I don't think that all characters have to have foils. Like a quiet, introspective heroine doesn't necessarily have to have a perky, loud friend. But in "coming of age" women's fiction, I find that they are very frequently used. Somehow, the heroine comes to her self-actualization through her interaction with the foil. Either the foil has faith and she doesn't, or the foil went through a similar experience and handled it completely differently than the heroine...something like that.

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of literary foils I can think of is in Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Marianne and Elinor Dashwood are so dissimilar in their dispositions and interests, yet joined by sisterhood. Austen did it also in Pride and Prejudice with Elizabeth Bennett and her older sister, Jane. Where Elizabeth is hot-headed and outspoken, Jane was always demure and proper, one was dark-headed, the other light, etc.

Wonder what it is we like - and maybe even crave - about this idea of antitheses uniting together in literary work? Contrasts make for so much more fodder than similarities. I'm looking forward to portraying my foil in my WIP...and eventually making my hero shine in juxtaposition.

Just random thoughts for today...


Katie said...

So interesting - I've never heard of foils before. Now you have me thinking - trying to see if I've unknowingly created any foils for my main characters. For my current WIP, I realize I have a foil for my male lead. And I suppose my two female leads are foils. But I can't think of any for my two finished books.... Very interesting post, Jeannie. :)