Plotting: A Tarot card device?

tarot-cardsAre you a plotter or a pantster?  I’ve always thought myself a pantster, unable to plot.  I try and I freeze up.  Recently I’ve decided to try and plot in slow doses.  I’ve tried the index card method of writing out major points, and rearranging them but my problem with that is that I often don’t know what those key points are.  I write as things come to me… as those voices that all writers hear deems me worthy of knowing the next scene.    It’d be easy to put random points together and say that’s it, but it’s another to write true to the story and true to the characters.

I will admit I’ve tried the whiteboard method and although that has worked somewhat in the past for brainstorming, it’s not a preferred method.  Often times, ideas will come to me out of the blue, whether I’m on the bus or just drifting off in thought.  I don’t have a method and I often wonder if I ought to try and figure one out because it can get frustrating at times waiting for characters to be comfortable enough to unveil a scene of events.  And when you have characters who suddenly go shy on you, you’ll often spend days on end in silence… with writer’s block right on its heels.

A bit ago, I thought about tarot cards and how they could help a writer by the flip of a card… to tell the story’s path.  I’ve often wondered if this would be feasible, if it would even be possible.  Surely not everything would fall into place at the simple spread of the cards, but I must admit I am curious.  Almost curious to try but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  In this article, it talks about setting up the card spread to either describe the character (which I’m a bit eh about.  I like the chars to speak to me themselves about who they are and what they look like, etc) or using the cards to define plot hooks which I’m much more interested in.

Each card you place here represents at least one plot hook the game master (GM) can make use of (in an RPG) or that can be turned into a side plot or complication (in fiction). In the former case, make sure that you leave enough wiggle-room that the GM can use the plot hooks when and where he sees fit, adapting them to suit his material. Keep them short and flexible. In the latter case, make sure you adapt them to mesh seamlessly with your primary plot material so the added complication or plot doesn’t look tacked on.

But I was wondering, what do you find useful?  Would you or have you tried plotting with the help of tarot cards?

Posted on January 31, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I did an online course through the From the Heart chapter a few years ago on plotting with tarot cards. Like you, I’m a pantser, and although I found the tarot cards interesting, I went back to my tried and true method of working out the initial scene, the character’s GMC and going from there.

    Every time I try to plot an entire book I lose interest. It’s like the book is done because I know the plot. I like discovering new things as I write. Don’t ask me how, but somehow everything works out in the end when I use my instincts and don’t know from one scene to the next what will happen. It’s like my subconsious is plotting the entire time without me knowing it. After years of trying out all the different plotting methods, I’ve decided not to mess with what works for me. 🙂

  2. Grin, I think I taught that class, Shelley. Tarot for me is a good device for sparking things and I do love doing the Hero’s Journey with Tarot. I do agree with you though. Stick with what works for you! I’d be sad if you didn’t write great books like the condom factory. Really enjoyed that one.

  3. I’ve never heard of plotting with tarot cards. It’s an interesting idea. I’m a pantser as well, but I plot later in the editing process.

    I have a Celtic Tarot deck but I use it the same way I do everything, including writing, I don’t read the instructions and I fit it to my own needs and style. Hopefully I’m not messing with the cosmos. LOL.

    Cool post.


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