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Old 08-08-2011, 09:59 PM   #1
crich70
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Tarot for Writers?

Has anyone here tried using "Tarot for Writers" by Corrine Kenner when trying to create a short story or novel? I bought a copy the other day and it has a lot of interesting looking exercises that seem to be aimed at doing all sorts of things like creating basic characters, plot diagramming and so forth. It doesn't do all the work for you certainly but does look like a good way to stimulate the imagination into gear. I've already gotten the basic goals, internal conflicts and prices of failure for several characters in just a few hrs this afternoon. Apparently the author got started on the book when someone posted a question about using Tarot cards to help create fiction during NaNoWriMo a few yrs back. She had posted a 400 word reply on the subject and later expanded on it.
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Old 08-09-2011, 04:01 AM   #2
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Interesting idea.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:05 AM   #3
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Yeah, I had fun with this book last year, but didn't really get anything concrete out of it. I think my brain is resisting the process of using only tarot to come up with ideas; I would rather have some beginning ideas and then flesh them out with tarot.

The best tarot method for me is to use a deck with lots of detail and people doing things on the cards, rather than sitting there, and then forget about the associated tarot meanings. Just look for inspiration in the pictures and ask myself how what I see relates to my character or conflict, etc.
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Old 08-09-2011, 12:24 PM   #4
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Yeah, I had fun with this book last year, but didn't really get anything concrete out of it. I think my brain is resisting the process of using only tarot to come up with ideas; I would rather have some beginning ideas and then flesh them out with tarot.

The best tarot method for me is to use a deck with lots of detail and people doing things on the cards, rather than sitting there, and then forget about the associated tarot meanings. Just look for inspiration in the pictures and ask myself how what I see relates to my character or conflict, etc.
I think that's how it might work for me too. The Tarot may give ideas for the bare bones of characters and plot, but it will still be up to me to flesh things out from there.
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:01 PM   #5
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Ha, I was hoping this was a book explaining Tarot TO writers. A lot of books and movies really misunderstand what the cards mean. (Or, rather, I should say "what the cards traditionally mean in most disciplines.")

If I see one more author using "The Hanging Man" as OMG GONNA DIE, I think I will cry. The tradition I was trained in describes the hanging man as a card of changing perspectives and viewing the world from another angle. (That's why the card is usually illustrated as a guy hanging by his legs jauntily from a tree branch as opposed to, say, a noose.)

"Death", also, isn't.
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:31 PM   #6
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Ha, I was hoping this was a book explaining Tarot TO writers. A lot of books and movies really misunderstand what the cards mean. (Or, rather, I should say "what the cards traditionally mean in most disciplines.")

If I see one more author using "The Hanging Man" as OMG GONNA DIE, I think I will cry. The tradition I was trained in describes the hanging man as a card of changing perspectives and viewing the world from another angle. (That's why the card is usually illustrated as a guy hanging by his legs jauntily from a tree branch as opposed to, say, a noose.)

"Death", also, isn't.
I thought the exact same thing!

Now, "The Devil" or "The Tower"....yup. If those come up, you could be in trouble.
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:39 PM   #7
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My discipline didn't even see The Devil as that bad -- it was seen as a card warning against the dangers of becoming unhealthily devoted to a cause/idea/hobby/person, etc. "Don't make a slave of yourself", essentially. Nowdays we would have called it fanboism...

My soul dies a little every time Joanne Harris uses The Hermit to mean a terrible person. But I do love her books.

The Tower does quite legitimately suck. Interesting enough, though, the crappiest cards in the Tarot seem to be limited to the Minor Arcana rather than the Major. But I can see why a movie director would rather splash DEATH or DEVIL up on the screen over NINE OF SWORDS.

OMG NOT THE NINE OF SWORDS!!
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:49 PM   #8
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I have a friend in my writing critique group who assigned tarot cards and their meanings to her characters. Her main character got three, showing the arc of the MC's growth over the course of the story, secondary characters get two, and more minor characters just get one. Seemed like a good way to keep track of the basic personality traits, especially if you have a large cast!
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:14 AM   #9
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It is interesting how you can use the cards to come up with possible stories. The book has an entire chapter on Plotting using the cards in addition to one on Characters. It seems like a good way to spark your imagination. For example I drew Queen of Cups for my Protagonist and then Magician (for goal) 4 of Cups (for the stakes) and 5 of Cups (for internal conflict). So my character is sensitive towards others, honest & intelligent. His/her goal is to achieve mastery over their own life, the stakes for failure is dissatisfaction (needs work I know) and the internal conflict is that they suffer from self-doubt in their own abilities. Of course that just presents part of things. I still have to provide their name, gender, past history etc. to flesh the character out, but the cards do give a good start I think.
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:18 AM   #10
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That does sound interesting.
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:19 AM   #11
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I have a friend in my writing critique group who assigned tarot cards and their meanings to her characters. Her main character got three, showing the arc of the MC's growth over the course of the story, secondary characters get two, and more minor characters just get one. Seemed like a good way to keep track of the basic personality traits, especially if you have a large cast!
One of the ideas that the author of the book suggests is using each of the Major Arcana cards as the basis of a character if you're writing a long project like a novel. She also makes the point that the setting itself is in effect a character in some ways.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:55 AM   #12
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One of the ideas that the author of the book suggests is using each of the Major Arcana cards as the basis of a character if you're writing a long project like a novel. She also makes the point that the setting itself is in effect a character in some ways.
I can definitely see that being useful! Of course, being that there are a lot of Major Arcana cards, you might not need all of them (depending on cast size) but having that baseline to work from might help keep characters from wandering too far off-course.

Setting can definitely be a character. As a whole, I never really thought of setting as a character until the last few years, and then I started to see it more and began to be able to use it myself. It can be tricky, but it can also really make the backdrop come alive.
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Old 08-16-2011, 05:59 AM   #13
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Interesting idea.
I say the same. The original post gave me some ideas. I've used some questionnaires I got from Elizabeth George's book "Write Away". I've modified them for my own purposes, but they're basically the same.

I'll take a look at the book. Thanks for the tip, Crich70.

10 mins later: Just checked the table of contents at Amazon. Is this a variation on the theme of storyboarding? I used that once for an adaptation of a book for a film manuscript. Wrote down all scenes each on a separate index card, then selected the ones I wanted for the manuscript, and had a lot of fun rearranging them to make an interesting story.

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Old 08-16-2011, 10:08 AM   #14
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I guess there might be some similarities but of course the Tarot cards are already pre-written and you interpret them as you wish for your individual story. For example my character (in post 9) could be a girl trying to save her families ranch in the old west or be the daughter of the ruler over a small empire (planet bound or spread over multiple solar systems) just to name a few basic ideas off the top of my head. Drawing 3 cards for the 3 acts I got: 10 of wands for Act 1, 7 of wands for Act 2 and King of wands for Act 3. So, the hero falls under the oppression of a tyrant(Act 1), fights an uphill battle to defeat the tyrant(Act 2) and in the process rises to become the leader that their people need (Act 3). But if I had picked 3 different cards I would have gotten a different storyline entirely. There is also a 6 card draw that is the equivalent of the 6 key scenes which are spread over all 3 acts of the story.
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