Writing Foil

A foil is a character that serves as a contrast to another. (Handbook to Literature


A character that serves as a double of a character. A doppelgänger will often have foil qualities as well.

Foil Writing Exercise

Choose a character from a work you are revising. Open a new document and write a scene in which the character meets her/his foil. As you write this scene, let it go where it wants to go regardless of the main narrative. If you find that it takes a different direction, consider whether or not this should be incorporated into the main narrative. Essentially, let the foil writing exercise of your character guide you in your revision of the work. Like looking yourself in the mirror, facing yourself, the foil is one of the best ways to really know your character. 

Wait until your written the first full draft of your work before doing this foil exercise. First drafts are where you work out the tendrils of your work and “meet” your characters. Be the end of the first draft, you’ll know enough to further explore the character in a foil exercise.

Submit Your Work for Individualized Feedback

Please use Universal Manuscript Guidelines when submitting: .doc or .docx, double spacing, 10-12 pt font, Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, first page header with contact information, section breaks “***” or “#.”


The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the PresentEric Kandel.

A Handbook to Literature. William Harmon.

“Cogito et Histoire de la Folie.” Jacques Derrida.

Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Lynne Truss.

The Elements of Style. William Strunk. 

New Oxford American DictionaryEdited by Angus Stevenson and Christine A. Lindberg.

The Norton Anthology of World LiteratureMartin Puchner, et al.

The Norton Introduction to PhilosophyGideon Rosen and Alex Byrne.

Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. Patricia T. O’Conner

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French & Ned Stuckey-French.

Writing the Other. Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.

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Eckleburg is a print and online literary journal that offers original fiction, poetry, essays, music, art, writing workshops and more.