Artwork by Savannah Regan
By Holly Carter-Turner
Ways to help the idea generation to feel a little less scared
Staring at a blank page and being expected to fill it can be one of the most daunting parts of being a creative writer, especially if there is a deadline breathing down your neck. When my brain decides, it absolutely does not want to generate ideas, I get the universe’s help through tarot.
Step one: pulling the cards. For the initial setup of the story, I chose to pull cards for four categories. Protagonist, Setting, Plot, and Resolution. Additions can be done using extra pulls to create more plot points or provide other characters. As with usual tarot draws, if the card is facing you, you do as it says. If it is facing away from you, it means the opposite.
Protagonist: interpretation of this pull is to help guide how the character might think; their personality, if you will. I pulled Temperance. This card is about using a balanced approach to help you pursue your success. They avoid rash decisions and extreme solutions and are assertive rather than passive or aggressive. To fit this personality into a story, it seems like they would be someone struggling with a decision. Which lover will they choose? Do they follow their passion or stability? Will they stay in this town or start over somewhere else?
Setting: use this to help define the place and how the characters will be interacting with it. I pulled Death. Death is a cycle of endings and beginnings that you shouldn’t try to fight as it is inevitable. For a setting, it could be their childhood home being knocked down or someone leaving/arriving in town.
Plot: this will help define the main driving force (or forces) of your story. While the cards for personality and setting will help provide input to this, the card drawn for the plot should be the main reference. I pulled The Lovers. This is about discovering or rediscovering passions, with warnings of not allowing yourself to become too carried away. Maybe the character has new superpowers, or their old baseball has rolled out from under the cupboard, and they’re reflecting on their glory days?
Resolution: the fix. You’ve created a problem, and now you need to tie it up with a nice little bow. I pulled The Empress. This card wants to solve challenges through kindness, openness, generosity, and making sure you aren’t being taken advantage of. For a story, this doesn’t mean there can’t be aggression or battles. It just means the final solution needs to be more diplomatic.
Step two: tying everything together. This process will be done differently for each individual and can be more complicated if the cards provide conflicting prompts. The hope is that by this stage, you’ll have enough inspiration to create the bones of your story. If you’re still struggling, feel free to pull again.
A rough example: “My character is an adolescent female unsure if she wants to move in with her best friend or stay at home with her parents (and she is trying to make a balanced decision). She is moving out of her old family home to start her young adult life (which shows the inevitable cycle of end and beginning). While packing away, she discovers her old camera with videos of her childhood, and reflects on her love of photography. The plot can be how she uses her camera to help her decide whether or not she should move out as she rediscovers her love of photography and her family. The resolution, whatever it ends up being, will need to be kind to those involved, perhaps a conversation with either the friend or the parents about why she has made her choice.
Step Three: writing. Now that the page is a little less blank, it is time for you to pick up your pen or grab your keyboard and get to work! Maybe use my prompt? Draw from your own deck (or an online one if you don’t have a tarot). If you write any amazing stories, we’d love to read them, so send them through!!!