I had an entire blog created to talk about receiving manuscript rejections today. But in the past twenty-four hours, I've received two different requests for full manuscripts, so I think I'll put off the depressing "r" topic for some other time. And since my blog idea has been foiled, I think I'll discuss...foils (sorry for the pun; couldn't help it!).
Eons ago when I was taking a writing course in college, I wrote a short story about two friends that were about as similar as black and white to each other. My professor told me I had showed a good example of creating a foil character. And I was like, a what character?
I then learned how authors put certain people in their stories that are the complete opposite of their main character in order to highlight the features of said main character. Instead of outright telling readers about the hero/heroine, they show their protagonist's characteristics by contrasting them with another character's personality. In movies, I would say we'd call these people supporting actors/actresses. (Check out Wikipedia's definition of a Foil for a better description)
After I wrote that story in college, time passed, and I forgot all about these foiled people.... until the other day. I was reading Claire Ashgrove's blog about stretching a story out longer with sub plotting. And for some reason, I thought, hey, Linda Kay, remember those foil characters back from college? They could really add a good subplot and help lengthen a book as well as deepen emotions and give your tale more meaning.
So...There's my helpful writing tip for the day. Don't forget about Foil Characters! Write that on a post-it and stick it somewhere in your writing tool box to pull back out whenever you stumble across a rough patch and need to lengthen, strengthen or deepen your story. They really do help.
Famous Foils in Literature
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell : Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck : George Milton and Lennie Small
Don Quixote by Cervantes : Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
Hamlet by Shakespeare : Hamlet and Laertes
Star Wars by George Lucas : Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling : Harry Potter and Ron Weasley
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle : Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson