Final Days Of 2017 Day 4: Two Of One Or One Of Two

dragon sticker ornament

This is an ornament I made myself. If you look closely, you may recognize the Victor Bilibin image I used for the back of my handmade Tarot cards.Koscej Nesmrtni by Ivan Bilibin

This ornament was made as an example of a simple craft one could do with stickers. For this one, I took 5 rectangular stickers and placed a piece of Seahawks ribbon in the center. Each sticker is folded in half and attached to two other stickers. When the stickers are all stuck together, the outer edge can be cut into a desired shape. In this example, a ball.

Though this example is not very Christmasy and was hastily (and shabbily) constructed. The concept is sound and a fun craft to do with kids. Maybe I’ll make some nicer ones for the tree this year.

#vss very short story

Harper couldn’t figure out why her mother kept saying decapitated dragons didn’t belong on the Christmas tree. Ever since she learned the story of St. George and the dragon, she was pretty sure decapitated dragons belonged everywhere.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today, I’m between examining my poems from the PAD Chapbook Challenge and getting my prompts for MoSt New Year’s Poetry Challenge, so I chose a prompt from Poets on the Page. This prompt from Morgan Dragonwillow felt appropriate for today:

What inspires you?

What keeps me going, keeps me writing poetry? It is to understand life, to see it through the lens of my words, to see where they will lead.

What keeps you going?

Prompts:

What was the last photo you captured? Write for ten minutes about the photo. What emotion does it convey? What draws you in?

Word Prompts:

Inspiring
flow
capture
camera

This prompt inspired me to go out and take some pictures and I am so glad I did. The light was perfect!

Two Of One Or One Of Two

Inspiring reflection
Attempts to capture light
Ever changing in natures flow

I stand at the horizon
Neither above nor below
Feeling the vast distance the light travels

Water and sky meet in light
Mirroring mountains, clouds and trees
I see soundscapes in the patterns

Frequencies imagined by my inner ear
To hear the music of the mountain and the trees
Joined by the light on the water through clouds formed by water in the sky

Editing Focus

Inspired by: Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell

Take a look at each of your minor characters. Make sure they are each unique with their own voice and visual distinction.

For each minor character, ask:

  • What is his purpose in the story?
  • What audio-visual markers can I attach to her?
  • How can I make each marker more unique or memorable?
  • What plot possibilities–a twist, a revelation of my protagonist, a setup, a premonition, a mood–does the character offer?
  • How can the character irritate my protagonist? Or help her in a unique fashion?

#FlashFicHive

For yesterday’s challenge, I worked on a couple of ideas for the 53-Word Story Contest over at Prime Number Magazine. The theme for the month is: A story about a box. I will be brainstorming more stories around this idea. And will post the best lines from the non-entrants for the retweet swarm today.

FlashFIC day4

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Today’s themes are:

SICK ✨ RUN ✨ STRONG ✨ TWINKLE ✨ FED UP ✨ PROTAG’S BIGGEST FEAR

monday writing events

graphic by Mica Scotti Kole

Don’t Forget To Read!

Reading short stories is a great way to get some reading in when you’re feeling short on time. I’m enjoying a couple different short story collections this month:
Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
and
The Best of Talebones edited by Patrick Swenson

What short story collections are you reading? Do you like a short story collection you would like to recommend?

Happy Reading and Writing!

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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!

Need your next great idea? Try this!

A few years ago, after reading Dufresne’s Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months, I created my go to story idea generator; my Plot-o-Matic. The Plot-o-Matic is a set of three different colored cards: green = Subject (person or occupation), yellow = Conflict (something the subject wants or needs), and blue = action (something the subject does to achieve that goal or overcome the conflict). When I’m looking for a story idea, I pick three cards, one of each color, and see if the story I want to write comes together. I have used that Plot-o-Matic to come up with many short story and flash fiction ideas. It’s a fun and useful tool and it was free, other than paper and printer ink.

When I became a blogger, I started searching Amazon for fun things to recommend for you, writers and readers, and noticed there were Plot-o-Matic-esque products on the market like The Storymatic and The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain. Then, when shopping for a game for my nephew, I noticed Rory’s Story Cubes among the games and bought a set to try them out.

DSC07558

Rory’s Story Cubes

The game and how to play

Rory’s Story Cubes are six-sided cubes with simple images on each side. For a long time I’ve been fascinated by human symbols. They dominate my fabricglass art and my puzzle design. I love looking up symbols in symbol dictionaries and dream dictionaries. How people express so much meaning through a simple shape over eons is exciting to me. So this game is  right up my alley.

There are different ways to play. The instructions page provided with my set provides 3 ideas:

  1. Roll all 9 cubes and look at the face up images. Pick an image that will be the starting point for your story. Beginning with “Once upon a time . . .,” make up a story that somehow links together all 9 face up images.

  2. Think up a title or theme for a story. (Examples: The beach, My fantastic vacation, Dream.) Then roll all 9 cubes and try to tell a story that relates back to the title or theme.

  3. Divide the cubes evenly among the players. (It’s ok if some get more than others.) Starting with one player and continuing in a circle, take turns rolling the cubes and adding to the story based on the face up images. Stop after all 9 cubes have been rolled, or continue rolling for additional rounds.

Rory’s Story cubes also offers more inspiration on their website.

Let’s Play

So let’s test it out. Can these story cubes inspire my writing? How will they compare to the Plot-o-matic?

DSC07559

What story does this roll give us? Hmm. Who’s my protagonist?

A happy man examines a letter that says he has to come home right now, so he jumps out of the plane, but on the way down a bee stings him. While sucking on the sore sting on his hand he does not pay attention to his magnifying glass that sets fire to his parachute. Luckily he lands in a tree, but he walks with a limp from then on and has to use a cane.

How about another one?

DSC07560

The hour was getting late for saving the earth, so the alien came disguised as a rainbow to alter the magnetic poles, but when it did, the water flowed upside down confusing the fishes and killing the bees and now the earth is overrun by scarab beetles.

Here’s one for you. Please leave your stories in the comments.

story cube 5

Now let’s play another way. One cube at a time.

story cube 7

Sasquatch, of course.

story cube 8

took a trip to Egypt to visit the great pyramids.

story cube 9

A freak storm surprised him. Lightning almost hit him, so he found an opening and hid inside the pyramid.

story cube 10

He pulled a flashlight from his backpack and began to look around the small chamber in the pyramid.

story cube 11

While examining an intricate spiderweb, he felt a chilly hand on his shoulder and roared turning around ready to attack.

story cube 12

But it was only a friendly mummified pharaoh who wanted to meet the furry large guest in his home.

story cube 13

The pharaoh asked if the bright light and crashing sound outside had been a meteor or an asteroid. He hoped it was the gods come to join him in the afterlife. Sasquatch hated to disappoint him,  but  told him it was only a bad storm.

story cube 14

Sasquatch pulled his favorite book out of his backpack. It was a book about the pharaohs of Egypt. He gave the pharaoh his flashlight and a sharpie. “Hey, could you find yourself in my book and sign your pic?”

The pharaoh started leafing through the pages. He started laughing. “I’m not in here. They haven’t found my chamber.” He shined the flashlight around the room. “See,” he said, “Not discovered yet.” He held the book and pen out to Sasquatch.

Sasquatch shrugged. “Wanna sign it anyway?” he said. How about right in the front?”

story cube 15

After the pharaoh signed his book, Sasquatch climbed to the very top of the pyramid, waited for a large gust of wind and opened his parachute. The giant wind, helped along by the ancient pharaoh’s good wishes took Sasquatch all the way back to his home in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s a video from the Rory’s Story Cubes website showing another story inspired by the story cubes:

Analysis

My stories inspired by story cubes tend toward the silly and ridiculous, but I had a lot of fun and wasn’t using them to work on anything in particular.

The Plot-o-Matic also lends to the silly and ridiculous. I’m seeing a trend here. It may not be the tools, but the user. Hmm.

I like the story cubes. They feel less rigid than the Plot-o-matic, as the different images can symbolize the subject, conflict and/or the action. The story cubes also seem more conducive to group writing and play.

As you can see, like the Plot-o-Matic, story cubes are a fun, playful, idea-conjuring resource with a vast array of outcomes, but what if some of the images don’t work for you and/or you would like something more specific to your story idea?

Rory’s Story Cubes has created a variety of different cube sets to address that issue. You can choose from:

Rory’s Story Cubes Actions

Rory’s Story Cubes – Voyages

Rory’s Story Cubes Bundle with Original, Actions, Voyages, Prehistoria, Enchanted, Clues, Intergalactic, Medic & Score 

But what if you want something very specific to your story that all those almost infinite possibilities didn’t symbolize?

How to personalize your Story Cubes

I came up with a quick DIY project for you to get the most out of your Story Cubes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pen
  • White label stickers
  • Scissors
  • OR for those who cannot read their own drawing
  • A printer
  • ink
  • printer paper and tape (double-sided preferred)
  • or printable sticker paper

I’m pretty sure you get where I’m going with this, but since I want to draw little symbols for my cubes . . .

Instructions:

  1. Measure one side of a cube (height and width to cover image)

three story cubes, a ruler, a pen and some white stickers

 

I don’t think I need an abacus, a teepee, or an L in a box (?) so I’ve chosen to replace these three symbols with symbols more pertinent to my story.

 

2. Take the sheet of labels and draw out a square that matches those measurements

3. Draw your preferred symbol within the square you drew

Drawings on sticker paper. A goatman has been placed over the teepee.

To be more specific to my stories, I’ve drawn a volcano, an alligator and a goatman. I’ve already cut out the goatman and placed him over the teepee.

My symbols may not curb the silliness of my stories, but they are more specific to what I’m writing.

4. Cut out the square and stick it over the side of the square you want to replace

5. Repeat until all unwanted symbols have been replaced

Three story cubes with hand-drawn symbols

6. Roll cubes

And there you have it. Three unique and fun stories to write. I would love to see what you come up with in the comments.

I found that when I rolled with my story-specific tiles, the game changed for me. The symbols became more of a What If game. What if the alligator is afraid of his own shadow? What would happen if the goatman got a bee sting? Do I want to bring magic into my volcano story?

I may be onto something. Adding personal symbols to the story cubes may be a more powerful writing tool than I thought.

I look forward to reading your interpretations of the story cube rolls.

Happy Reading and Writing!