Friday, 3 April 2009

Coffee break

OK, so this week I'm even busier than last week (which was something I didn't think was possible), so it's another hurried gulp of something containing more caffeine than water for me! I've managed a total of 0 words this week, but I have been thinking about writing outside my comfort zone a bit more, and how to achieve this.

One of the characters in my WIP uses Tarot cards, so as research I bought a deck and a couple of books about them. I was fascinated to discover that one use of Tarot cards is to actually create stories, by dealing out some cards in a sequence and using the inspiration of the pictures or the interpretation to develop a plot and/or characters. While I haven't had a chance to try this out yet, it did sound like an interesting idea to get things going when the words won't come, or even to get them going in a different direction when they seem a bit dull. Has anybody tried this? Or do you have any other weird and wacky ideas for mixing things up a bit?

(Once again sorry for a post written on the go - I've been in the office since 7... Hopefully next time I host the coffee break it won't coincide with the busiest weeks ever!)


Debs said...

Thankfully my day isn't nearly as hectic as yours sounds.

I haven't heard about Tarot cards being used to develop stories before, but I can see how it would work.

I'm going to be horribly dull here (so what's new?) and say that I don't have any tried and tested ways of coming up with plots, I simply start with a vague idea that's come into my head and build on it.

Lucy Diamond said...

How funny, I've just done a tarot scene in my new novel! Spookeeee.

I like the idea of inspiring new stories from the cards but haven't tried it myself. I used to have a pack back when I was a student and really fascinated by the whole occult thing, but have no idea where the cards are these days.

I've been trying to 'up the ante' constantly for this book, making my characters' lives really difficult and then having to think of ways to put them out of their misery (I don't mean killing them off, although now I mention it...) That's the best way I know to mix things up - not very weird or wacky though, I'm afraid!

Sorry to hear you're so busy Ellie, hope the pressure eases off next week and you can recover.

Captain Black said...

My only slightly weird piece of writing methodology I can think of, is the use of an anagram generator for coming up with names of people and places.

Rowan Coleman said...

I am having a lot of fun writing my latest book - one of the characters is an erotic romance writer and I have been reading said genre to get into the spirit, this mainly gives me an excuse to re-read the Kathleen E Woodiweiss books I read aged twelve! (possibly a smidge too young) The style and content of the great Kathleen's books could not be more different (swashbuckling pirates, maidens, much bodice ripping and ravishing) but it is really helping me with the character in my book as I imagine her writing similar stuff. I think that's it, normally if I'm stuck I go for a walk.

Graeme K Talboys said...

There are a number of books in print that have been written this way (the only one I can think of off hand is an anthology of short stories edited by Caitlin Matthews, with each participant working from a single card). I have heard of others being written using dice and the I Ching. You can play consequences with yourself, putting names of characters, places, events, and so on onto slips of paper into different hats and drawing them out to build starting points.

Leatherdykeuk said...

I have done it, but only when I've been very stuck. There used to be a weekly prompt site that did exactly that -- three cards to make a story from.

I've uces Tarot cards in novels, and the last chapter in my current WIP had a tarot reader.

Un Peu Loufoque said...

Tarot here in France is a different game altogether, very fast very clever and no pretty pictuers.I am with Debs, figures adn thier doings just pop into my head whether I want them there or not.

KeVin K. said...

I use a storyboard approach to plotting -- key events and characters on index cards. Occasionally I shuffle those to see if somehting interesting appears. Sometimes works better than I expected.

I was given a set of tarot cards as a gift some decades ago. Still have a few around. Never thought of using them to generate stories. Actually, I've never used them for anything except coasters.

sheepish said...

Using Tarot cards sounds as if it could be quite fun, might just go and buy a set, although I really shouldn't be taking up writing time. I also just wait for ideas to appear and if they don't fit the wip then I write a short story. In fact I seem to be avoiding my wip at the moment so need to take myself in hand. Sorry you have so much work on.
Have a good weekend everyone.

ChrisH said...

Sorry, fellow Novel Racers, I cannot get my head in gear at all today to make a sensible contribution. Up to my eyeballs trying to complete my third edition of FTT ie FTT Dark n' Sleek (hollow laughter). Completely cheesed off and demoralised.

liz fenwick said...

Interesting posssiblity...I use the Donal Maass book and start asking questions from that.

Hope things ease up for you.

KAREN said...

I don't have any weird and wacky ideas, but I do love the research side of things. My main character is a personal chef and I love thinking up new recipes for her to cook, and trying them out myself to see if they actually work!

Annieye said...

I'd never heard of using Tarot cards to generate a storyline before, but it seems like a good idea.

I have a very strange way of planting a seed of an idea into my mind and it goes like this:

1. Pick up a book - any book will do.

2. Open it at a random page (no cheating)

3. Read and then write down the penultimate sentence on the left hand page.

4. Mull over that sentence for a while and see what drifts out of your imagination.

It doesn't always work, but for me it works about 75% of the time and it's great for generating ideas for short stories.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I have a deck of Tarot cards but have only ever used them as a form of fortune telling - however, story telling sounds rather quite interesting...

CJ xx