writing narrative foils
[@/moonit_sunflower_writes on ig]
elias veturius and helene aquila invented narrative foils in this essay i will-
hey y'all! today we're going to be talking about narrative foils and why they're such an awesome literary technique + how to use them when you write. most of this knowledge is from english class last year combined with my own experience reading and writing. i hope this helps!
disclaimer: i am not a professional writer, just a student who writes for fun, and everything here is a combination of research and experience. i'm always open to debate and/or constructive criticism!
what are foils? why use them?
narrative foils are essentially two characters that have contrasting personalities and values. when a character and their foil are in close proximity, it makes the characters' contrasting personalities and attributes. essentially, it makes the differences between the two characters stark and makes them seem more dramatic.
foil v/s antagonist
an antagonist is someone working directly against the protagonist, who tries to hinder the protagonist's progress and ultimately propels the plot forwards. a foil, on the other hand, exists purely to emphasise the protagonist's character traits. they don't necessarily provide more conflict or opposition.
how to use foils
one of the main ways in which foils are used is to show the different paths that characters can take. for example, in an ember in the ashes, elias chooses to run from blackcliff while helene remains to serve the emperor - the two paths they take are direct contrasts and show the different futures that someone from blackcliff could possibly have.
foils are also used to show different choices that characters make. in the musical hamilton, the songs "my shot" and "wait for it" are direct contrasts to each other. in the former, hamilton talks about how he will go looking for opportunity and not pass any up, while burr talks about how he will wait for his time to come and not make stupid rash decisions.
coming up with foil characters
like any trait, the fact that the character is a foil should not be their entire personality. the fact that draco and harry* are foils isn't their entire personalities - they each have their own unique motivation and subplot as well, but the fact that they contradict each other gives their characters more depth.
also, don't contrast every single character trait. for example, if your protagonist is loyal, confident, and naive, don't necessarily make your antagonist untrustworthy, cowardly, and sceptical. choose the traits that serve the story the best and emphasise those!
*i do not support jk rowling in any way, i'm just using her characters as examples
examples of foil characters
elias veturius and helene aquila from an ember in the ashes
romeo and mercutio from romeo and juliet
harry potter and draco malfoy from harry potter
sherlock holmes and john watson from sherlock
mr darcy and mr wickham from pride and prejudice
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Stalking a King Chapter 7
A HUGE THANK YOU to @shae-annelore for the gorgeous title image. I absolutely love it!!!
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6
Historical AU, Historical Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Eventual Smut, Angst, Sexual Tension, Bathing, Smut, Oral Sex (F receiving), Angry Smut
Lisabet is a high born Lady of Orleans, France. When King Henry V conquers her city, taking her brother hostage along with other nobles, she vows to be revenged upon the foreign invader and rescue her brother. Dressed in boys clothing she hopes to escape notice in Henry’s camp, but the English King has a much more perceptive eye than she anticipated.
Thank you all so much for reading!
I am very sorry this took so long to post. I have been dealing with managing the care for a relative in the hospital and it completely ate up all of my free time. Hopefully it will not take as long for the next update. I love you all!
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Lisabetta woke with a feeling of well being. She was lying comfortably nestled in a warm feather mattress, a source of heat pressing against her back. Had one of the larger dogs snuck into her chamber and climbed onto bed, she wondered briefly. If so, she would forgo the scolding since it felt so nice behind her. Of course, if it was a dog it was certainly a long one. The heat source stretched from her head all the way down to her feet. And, a small voice noted in alarm as her brain began to wake up, rather than soft fur against her, it felt like smooth skin. In fact, now that she was no longer deep in slumber, Lisabetta recognized with a start that a long, well muscled limb snaked around her and held her flush against the body behind her.
Opening her eyes in panic, Lisabetta bit down hard on her lower lip as the memory of the previous night flooded her brain. That was no dog behind her, at least not in the literal sense. No, the strong body curled against her belonged to Henry Plantagenet, King of England and her sworn enemy. Strong, naked body she amended, taking inventory of all of the startling pieces of his anatomy she could suddenly pick out along her own equally bare self. There were his legs, twined intimately through her significantly shorter ones. His firm chest rose and fell with soft snores against her spine. Worst of all, between the two and pressed against the curve of her buttocks insistently, she blushed to identify his hard cock. To her shame she remembered her desperation the night before to feel him thrust that organ within her.
What had she come to, she demanded of herself silently. She had come here to kill this man, or at least to sabotage his dreams of a French conquest. How had she ended up so easily tumbled in his bed? Had she so little shame? By all that was holy, she had been begging for her own dishonoring by the end! It was by not her own virtue but Henry's restraint that Lisabetta could still claim to be a maid, suitable for marriage.
How DARE HE? She wanted to scream.
Was it not enough that he burned her villages, conquered her city, and drove her King into ignoble hiding? Must he set siege to her desires as well? How smug he must have felt, having made her cry out like one of his tavern sluts as he toyed with her. And after all of that, after making her long to feel him claim her, he had the audacity to make a mockery of her lust, of her weakness, and throw it back in her face by denying her that completion. Oh, how he would laugh at her. It could not be born!
Yes, that was better. Lisabetta was far more comfortable once her anger began to return. Anger she could use to fuel herself and her revenge. That other feeling, the languid, melting desire she felt here in Henry's bed, that was entirely too dangerous. It made her long to turn in his arms and wake him with a kiss, to pull him back on top of her and open herself wide beneath him. Even more horrid than that pathetic impulse was the urge to weep that he would never want her for real. None of these treacherous thoughts could be allowed to take up residence in her mind. Far superior to hate him than to ache for him.
Moving slowly so as not to wake the sleeping giant in bed with her, Lisabetta gingerly slid his arm from where it held her beneath her breasts. Henry grumbled a bit, rolling onto his back, but his eyes remained closed. Lisabetta sat up carefully and allowed herself one last look at the man who had upset her life. It was unfair that anyone so nefarious should be so beautiful. The sweep of gold lashes against his cheek was almost sweet, and in repose a small smile hovered on his lips.
Resolutely ignoring both the red marks scoring his skin that she blushed to realize she had made with her nails and teeth as well as his cock that stood proudly like a mast at sea, she hopped down off of the bed and began searching among the scattered clothing littering the floor for something to cover her shame. If Henry's body looked like a battle ground, what must her own skin reveal?
It was as she was rummaging through the detritus for her second shoe that Lisabetta came across a small sheet of parchment. It was folded neatly and had no doubt been hidden in one of the King's garments, but their tussling must have set it free. Eyes darting over to the bed to ensure he still slept, Lisabetta quickly unfolded the paper and scanned the lines written there on in the low, pre-dawn light.
"All Brittany is with you, doubt us not. In Paris we will run Valois to ground. Your cousin and your ally, de Montfort."
The traitor! John of Montfort was sworn liegeman to the King of France, and yet here it was, proof in her hands that he was in league with the English! Beyond a doubt Charles Valois and his Constable must know of this, and soon!
Ignoring an odd pang in her breast, Lisabetta realized that the time to leave had come. She would take the traitorous letter to Paris and warn her King of the viper on his coast. Henry knew her identity, after all. She would learn no more here. It was only his carelessness that was even now allowing her to escape with this startling information. She would slip quietly out of the tent and never see the thrice cursed English King again.
Perhaps, she graciously allowed, she would even drop a hint to her papa that she was ready for him to negotiate in earnest for her hand in marriage. It was not, could not, be that the English King had wakened something in her. It was simply that she had reached an age when a woman should turn her mind to the getting of children. And surely, one pair of arms was like any other. She was a passionate woman and always had been. There was nothing special in Henry's embrace that she would not easily find in that of a more deserving Frenchman. France would send him running back to England like a whipped cur, and she would forget all about the way his mouth had felt on her, or the strength of his hands as they held her to the mattress. If one man made her body tremble and come undone, surely any of them could do the same... it must be so.
The bed felt cold and empty when she quit it. He had considered stopping her, it would have been easy enough. Lisabetta was athletic and admirably strong for her size, but Henry was a hardened knight. Had he wished to keep her there she never would have slipped so easily from his arms.
He did wish to keep her there, he amended. Wished it badly. Even after stroking himself to completion to the sight of her last night, his body still woke demanding more. She was warm, soft, and downright intoxicating all tangled up with him. How glorious would it be to follow the urges of his desire and claim her as his own? He would be gentle this time, coaxing and seductive rather than the frenzied attack they had let loose on each other the night before. She wanted him, that much was clear, and God above knew he had never wanted any woman as much as he wanted her. He could have her, all of her, if chose.
She would never forgive him or herself if he did. Henry understood the pride that sat at the core of this woman as if it were his own. As it stood now, she would hate him, he knew. Hate that he had seen her so vulnerable and made her scream for him. Still, she had her maidenhead intact. She could still marry well and live the life she was born to. Maybe even so great a figure as the Constable of France would make her his wife. Henry worked hard to stifle a growl in his chest at the idea, wondering why it filled him with so much rage.
No, this was for the best. There would be other women who stirred his lust, as many had before. If none of them also stirred the competitive need within him, the need to tame a bright spirit and bind it with his own, making the twin flames grow greater as one, well a gentle flame was safer in the end. He would burn hot enough on his own.
She was beautiful though. Chancing a look at her as she slipped from his bed, Henry felt his cock throb in protest. Long of leg and gently curved, she was an image of femininity. No wonder all of that padding and binding had not been enough to hide her gender from him. As his eyes ran up and down her body he suffered a swelling of possessive satisfaction that her skin still bore the signs of him. A dark bruise was forming where her neck met her shoulder on the left side, a red mark colored the top of her right breast, and there on her slightly rounded stomach he could just make out a little of his seed, dried and still clinging to her skin. Good. He might not be able to mark her inside as he wished, but it would be some time before she forgot what he had done to her, how he had made her dance on the mattress with pleasure from his touch.
He almost stopped her when she found the letting among his clothing. There was no doubt in his mind what she intended once she read the note from John de Montfort, Duke of Brittany. The news of their secret alliance would be with King Charles as soon as she could ride there, and he had no doubt that she could ride as well as any royal courier. It would have been the prudent thing to rise then and take her into custody, but Henry resisted the idea. Somehow, he didn't want Lisabetta staying there out of force rather than for her own misguided purposes.
It was too late for the news to matter anyway, he tried to justify his decision to himself. The Brittan forces were already on the march, and would meet his own outside of Paris in a matter of days. Even if Lisabetta didn't warn the French army, someone would see them marching and alert the Constable soon enough. Let her play the heroine if she must. It was easier than keeping her and having to decide what to do with an aristocratic French Lady in the middle of an English camp.
He knew what to do with her, his body yelled back. Tie her to his bed and conduct his siege on her fertile body instead of the fertile fields. Make her scream his name as she had done last night. Sink into her and stay there until she grew round with his heir and everyone had only to glance at her to know that she belonged to him and him alone.
Henry let her walk out of the tent, eyes closed as the flap closed behind her. He would likely never see her again, which was as big of a shame as he had known. Closing his eyes, he tried to bring to mind every last detail of the night before. He wanted it burned into his brain so that he would never forget the way she looked, wild and panting and magnificent. Rolling over, he assaulted his mattress to the memory, knowing it would not be nearly enough to remove the desperate desire to call her back.
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