Cracking the Code

How I Got a NaNoWriMo Project Back on Track with Tarot

National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) is in full swing. Don’t know what NaNoWriMo is? Basically, it’s a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. I haven’t participated in the challenge in a few years and I haven’t signed up for this year, either. But I wanted to share how I used Tarot to get back on track when I drew an absolute blank as to what direction my story was headed one year.

This particular year, my story was fantasy based. I imagined it filled with suspense, drama, and a dash of humor. So, when I hit that wall, I grabbed my Fenestra Tarot (I imagined my characters looking a lot like the people in this deck), shuffled, and asked “What happens next?”

I drew a single card - Two of Cups.

Romance?!? Oh, hell no! I’m going for fantasy and suspense! Something a little other-worldly and magical. This card is just too sweet for the edge-of-your-seat kind of story I was hoping to create. So, how do I incorporate this card into the story?

Looking closer at the cards image, I take notice of the armband worn by the woman on the right.

AHA! A certain elite group will wear inticately designed armbands as a symbol of their status and they can be magical in some way (haven’t figured this part out, yet). The lion’s face looks rather intense….the main character already has a cat… Hmmm….what if the cat isn’t really a cat…. AHA!

Kitty has taken on a whole new persona.

But what else? I feel like I’m missing something important. I turn to Mark McElroy’s Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Tarot to see what his “Story Correspondence” might be: “The main character improves his or her lot by joining with like-minded others.

Another ‘AHA!’ - the main character will come face-to-face with a certain other major player in the story for the first time, BUT she doesn’t know who he really is. Yeah…yeah… that fits right in with the suspense thing…. Mwuahahahaha!

Four thousand words later, I was still writing scenes inspired by that single card.

And, much to my surprise, a little romantic sub-plot found its way into the story.

So, if you hit that “What happens next?” wall in your NaNoWriMo project (or any writing project, for that matter), grab a Tarot deck, give it a shuffle or three, and find out what your characters have in mind.

Good luck and happy writing!

Card images from the Fenestra Tarot used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT USA. Further reproduction prohibited.

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