Sunday, August 05, 2012

Character Foil Writing Excuses Prompt

Writing Excuses episode 6.29 talks about writing character foils. A foil being a character that offers a contrasting role that casts the other characters attributes in a sharper light. Several examples are given in the podcast.
  • A straight man being the foil to a funny guy.
  • The sidekick to the superhero
  • The wise man and the apprentice/student
  • Sherlock Homes and Dr Watson.
  • A theologian versus a scientist
  • A human who can't relate to humanity versus a monster that can
  • A person who believes in visions versus someone who thinks they're crazy
  • And probably some others as well
I think this is a great thing to consider when writing. The two points that I think are good to keep in mind here are that the two characters can be very alike in other respects and that both characters should have something to give. In other words the foil should have a reason for being beyond just highlighting the other characters attributes.

The prompt for this episode was:

Generate a list of five character pairs. Pick the most interesting of the set, and write about them.
So here are five character pairs of my own design:
  1. Absolutist versus relativistic
  2. Gluttonous eater versus picky eater
  3. Pessimist and optimist
  4. Desiring success versus having success
  5. A dandy versus a slob
And here is what I wrote on the pair I picked:
Albert sighed as he rolled the pea around with his fork as his brother ate heartily, shoveling mouthfuls of mashed potatoes, peas, carrots and roast into his maw. "Mom knows that I hate peas, why does she keep giving them to me?"  
Swallowing his mouthful, Greg answered, "She probably hopes that you'll be like me." waving his fork around with chubby little fingers and dripping gravy on his shirt. 
"I'd rather think she'd want you to be more like me." Albert wiped his clean fingers on a napkin and stared at his plate wondering if he should make an attempt to eat more as his brother made his plate as clean as Albert's fingers, mopping everything up with a soft roll. "I'm probably a lot cheaper to take car of, not that it makes any difference in my allowance." he frowned. 
"Yeah, well at least you get some, I'm still paying for that broken window, you know." Greg said buttering another roll as Albert got up from the table and dropped his plate in the sink. "Since you've got the money and all, do you want to go and get some ice cream?"
"Only if they have rocky road, I don't even know why they make other kinds of ice cream." 
"I do, because all the different flavors are awesome, you have your classics, chocolate and vanilla, butter pecan, mint chocolate chip, oreo cream, fudge ripple, each one delicious in it's own way." Greg said his mouth on his sleeve. 
Albert scraped the remains of the meal into the trash, setting his plate in the sink, "Ok then." he said washing his hands. "Let's go."

If it isn't the character pair I was aiming at was number 2 a glutton versus a picky eater. I also tried rolling in some of the other ones, but really I didn't write enough to develop them. It feels like there should be more but I've run out of time.

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