|Image from Wikipedia|
So for Writing Wednesday I thought maybe we'd explore characters and techniques involving humor/fools for advancing plots.
Who is Eligible to be the Fool?
You know, I am not sure I think the fool works as an MC, because I don't think the reader can be in on their inner workings. I think the fool works best with a note of surprise. They should shock us. Or else they should make us laugh so we underestimate what they say, having it hit us only later. I suspect Terry Pratchet would make me eat my words, and a fool intent on actually controlling things would be a different sort of character—capable of carrying a story. Mostly, though, rather than a literal fool, I like a sidekick—a close friend willing to give uncomfortable truths and add some humor to an otherwise darker tale.
I've written such a character for my cozy mystery series. Much of the humor is in the form of Annie Schulz, BFF to my MC. And Annie speaks with my Tart voice, advising the heroine to do such things as 'go grope your boyfriend, or I'll have to do it'. But at the same time, she is the strength behind the MC.
This essay does a nice job of summing it up. Though the essay misses one of the big interpretations:
“When thirteen dine together, the first to rise is the first to die.”
Sybil comes and thinks she makes thirteen. But in fact there were already thirteen at the table before she got there—Peter Pettigrew is in Ron's pocket... and then ALBUS rises to greet Sybil. So in fact her prophecy is TRUE. She just applies it wrong.
And it is things like interpreting the Grim as death that make us not trust her, when it is not a Grim at all, but Sirius, she is seeing. Note she gets much better at interpretation as things get darker—by the Half Blood Prince almost every prediction she makes is accurate, if sherry doused.
Trelawney is a brilliant fool. She is so easy to dismiss. And yet it is her prophecy that sets the entire story in motion—Voldemort ACTS because of what she said, and by his acting, makes it true.
I love the idea that because they are funny, the fool can tell readers things they need to know in a way that they will still be surprised when they prove to be true, later.
What about all of you—have you ever used the fool to enrich your tale?