Saturday, April 6, 2013

A to Z Challenge: F is for FOIL.


Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! This is my first year participating. Basically, we post every day except Sunday, which in April means we'll finish on the 30th. We blog about something each day which starts with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. So, day 1=A, day 2=B, etc. Visit the A to Z blog for more details.

My theme is writing and related bookish things. A pretty vague theme, I'll admit, but as this is a writing/bookish blog, I thought I'd clarify.

Today's letter: F 
F is for FOIL.

Anyone know what a FOIL is? I remember someone asking this in a religion class years ago, and I was the geek that totally knew what it was. :D 

Anyway, here's the definition: The term ‘foil’ refers to a literary device where the author creates a character whose primary purpose is to create a contrast to another character by laying emphasis or drawing attention to the latter’s traits and characteristics through the former’s obviously contradictory ones. (Source)

Well, I'd argue that even if a character's main purpose isn't to be a foil, you can still make good use of the foil device. If you want to show how good one character is, contrast them with a bad character. Make your hero better and your villain badder. Works every time.

Okay, weird random example: Do you remember back in season...I-can't-remember-which of Friends where Rachel got pregnant? Joey thought it was Phoebe and proposed to her. When he did that, it was sweet and cute and everyone's heart melted. Then he did the same thing to Rachel when he found out it was her. It was funny and all the charm of the gesture kind of went out the window, but that's beside the point. Meanwhile, Phoebe thought Rachel's ex-boyfriend Tag was the father and set up an appointment for Rachel to tell him. When he found out she was pregnant, he literally ran out of the cafe. I remember my mom, who I was watching it with, saying, "Wow. Quite a difference from Joey, huh?" That always stuck with me.

So, use foils to heighten and emphasize characterization. It will make your readers love your heroes more passionately and hate your villains with more gusto. :D Happy writing!

Anyone have any great examples of FOILS?


  1. I have never seen that sounds cute! :) I like the idea of a contrasting character..can't think of a great example at the moment though!:)

  2. Never heard that term either. How about the Odd Couple?

  3. Good post. New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to visiting again.


  4. What a great post! I've actually never heard of this term before, but now I'm going to start thinking about it when developing my characters. I'm a new follower from the A-Z Challenge :)

  5. And here I was hoping that First, Outside, Inside, Last was finally going to apply to real life