Planning For #NaNoWriMo: Plotting with Tarot

Koscej Nesmrtni by Ivan BilibinThis will be my third adventure into National Novel Writing Month. My first two were “wins” as in I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days, however, they have stayed in their not-quite-fully-realized draft state since their conception and that is not what I hope for this year’s novel.

Like my very first novel, this idea somewhat landed on my doorstep. Well, more like it showed up for my dad in the garage. I’ve been thinking about it for months and it has turned into a twisted saga of super-fun proportions.

Because it has more twists and turns, characters and settings than my previous work, I wanted to approach it in a new way. I have decided to add a little more plotting to my plantser and try something completely out of my element.

Plotting your novel using the Tarot

Before last week, I had never had a Tarot deck; I had no idea what any of the cards meant and I would have never imagined using the cards. However, I was reading Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo which talked about plotting with the Tarot and my writing buddy was talking about using Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch to plan her NaNoWriMo novel, so I came up with an idea.

I found printable color your own tarot cards on Tarot Taxi and decided to create my own tarot deck. I love symbolism and as I go through the month, using the cards to plot my novel, I plan to artistically collage them with my own imagery.

If you’re not interested in coloring and creating your own cards and would like to buy a deck, you may want to look at some of these Tarot cards.

To learn the meanings and interpretations of my cards, I went to Psychic Library.com while I waited for some library books that I put on hold.

Making the cards

Making the hanged man

What I used:

printed black and white card images
scissors
glue sticks
a ruler
a pencil
scrapbook papers
decorative sticker paper

I cut a selection of scrapbook papers to 1/2″ larger than the tarot images on all four sides then cut out and glued the images onto the papers. I let the images choose which paper design worked best with them.

For the laminated backing I chose to cut different portions of Victor Bilibin’s painting of a Knight who hacked off the heads of a three headed dragon. I love the colors and had a bunch of stickers to recycle.

hanged man back

I watched some YouTube videos on learning the meaning of the cards and how to do a reading while I made all the cards. In Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo it shows how to use the Celtic Cross spread to plot scenes in your novel. Here is my first reading.
My first celtic crossThough it looks like I might not have shuffled by the amount of wands and swords in the reading, I assure you I shuffled a ton. The cards actually make sense for my character and my story. I was pretty impressed.

I’ll be doing both the Celtic Cross readings and The Hero’s Journey reading from Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch throughout NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Inspiration

So what do I have planned to stay motivated this year? All sorts of fun stuff. I learned from #Writober that I like combining lots of different prompts, so every day this month, I’ll be providing visual prompts, word prompts, poetry prompts, a poem, a tarot card reading, writing exercises and everything else that I find inspiring.

This year I donated to NaNoWriMo and received a prompt poster. Many of the prompts are geared more toward short stories, but some of them will make their way into my daily posts. I also bought the Writer Emergency Pack which is a deck of cards with prompts that I’ll be mixing in.

Like #Writober I’ll have specific headings that I’ll repeat every day and a daily poem. Unlike #Writober, the days will not be random. I have a plot-structure method to my madness. Each day will follow the Hero’s Journey and I will also try to map it to the story beats of Save The Cat! and the Simple Tasks of Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days.

I have pulled out all of my references for this (literally; the house is a mess) and will be pulling inspiration from all my favorite resources. If you like something I’m referencing, it will most likely have come from one of the books in the list below. Click the link, and get yourself a copy to enjoy all year long.

Bibliography:

Books on Writing: These are the books I’ll be using and referencing this month.

Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo
Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by Christopher Vogler
Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)
Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers by Barbara Baig
Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days by Denise Jaden
Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials) from the Editors at Writer’s Digest
Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell
Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell
Writing for Emotional Impact: Advanced Dramatic Techniques to Attract, Engage, and Fascinate the Reader from Beginning to End by Karl Iglesias
Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months by John Dufresne
The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Anderson
Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen
Writing for Self Discovery: A Personal Approach to Creative Writing by Myra Schneider and John Killick
Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer
This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosely

Books on Tarot

The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by Jessa Crispin
The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien
Mary K. Greer’s 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary K. Greer
Tarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards by Anthony Louis

Reference Books

The Elements of Style 4th edition with revisions by William Stunk Jr. and E. B. White
The Wrong Word Dictionary: 2,000 Most Commonly Confused Words by Dave Dowling
The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers (6th Edition) by Chris M. Anson
A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Robert A. Schwegler

Fiction: Don’t forget to pick out some good books to read in November! I picked:

A Man Called Ove by Frederic Backman
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park
The Hiding Place by David Bell

Happy Reading and Writing!

I hope you’ll join me and find lots of inspiration here at Experience Writing!

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