Plotting with Tarot: Interpretation for a friend-The Perfect Romance Plot

This is fun! My friend Diana Rose Wilson was having a bout of writer’s block, so I mentioned trying plotting with Tarot to get some ideas. She tried it, said it took her down a rabbit’s hole and gave up, but said I could go ahead and interpret her spread. I decided to give it a try, thinking it might be fun to see if someone else’s spread might inspire a scene for me as well since the cards are interpretive symbols with immeasurable possible interpretations.

awesome notebooks

I decided to make this the first entry in my I Regret Nothing Journal from The Mincing Mockingbird & The Fantic Meerkat (I love these journals) and wrote down each of Diana’s cards and positions. Many of the cards she pulled were reversed which I found interesting. While doing this, I noticed she was missing a card for a Celtic Cross which looked like her intended form, so I pulled out my hand-made Tarot cards and found the cards she had pulled, put them in order she would have pulled her spread and then started shuffling and cutting for her final card.

I shuffled and cut my deck three times while thinking, What would be the last card in Diana’s spread and What would the outcome be for Diana’s story? Believe it or not, the top card after the final shuffle and cut was The Lovers. Perfect.

 

romance plot spread.jpg

I grabbed my copy of Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, turned to page 75 (Note: after I published this post, I found out that Mark Teppo’s book is in second edition with significant additions, so that page number may not be the same in your book) and started my plot interpretation. During my first exploration of the Tarot last fall, I found that I liked using Teach Me Tarot for online interpretations, so I went to the site and started with Diana’s first card, The Ten of Pentacles in the search bar. The great thing about Teach Me Tarot is it thoroughly explores the upright and reversed positions for every card. Because I am using this for fiction plotting, I can pick and choose which aspects of the card, in the given position, are exciting to me for a plot-line.

Now that you know the tools I used for my interpretation, I’m going to give you my interpretation of the entire spread as a story plot. If you would like further instruction of how I came up with this interpretation, I highly recommend getting a copy of Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch, and reading my blog posts from November 2017.

Now. With no further build up . . . Drum roll please . . .

♥ Diana’s Most Amazing And Useful Romance Novel Plot! ♥

Your protagonist is wealthy on many levels: from a wealthy family and a well-known family name, may have old money or be “self-made” through hard work. S/he is from a close-knit, tight family unit and follows family traditions and customs. This protagonist starts out having it all, but something from the past threatens his/her happiness. Something from the past: a person, a document, a memory threatens to destroy this perfect life.

The story begins with the protagonist facing doubts and fears that something isn’t right. S/he wishes to let go and enjoy/reap the good life, but worries it is too good to be true. Whatever threat from the past has come to light (family, business, family secrets, blackmail, old business partner, old school friend, old lover, inheritance, current relationship falling apart, etc.), the protagonist has dug in his/her heels and stubbornly refuses to negotiate or compromise. There is a good chance that s/he is wrong, but pride/ego/family name is in the way. The protagonist becomes awkward and difficult, determined to keep the battle/conflict going. S/he will lose any honesty s/he had, willing to call black white to disagree on almost every item.

The protagonist wishes s/he could walk away, but because of original home/wealth/happiness, can’t. S/he wishes for space and time to think, to come up with a new approach, but is constantly pressured. S/he wants to find a way to be free from blame for every horror s/he is discovering created the wealth s/he enjoyed. And/or wants to know who is causing the unrest (blackmail/threats). And/or wants to come clean about past (family, business, secrets).

The protagonist makes an attempt create distance from the situation; makes a move from turbulent seas to calmer waters where s/he finds belief in self and sense of purpose. This is where the protagonist recognizes/discovers love for another.

No matter what this protagonist does, s/he is still a representative of the family s/he was born into, thus people see a person who: earned a place on the winners podium; earned success because s/he learned vital lessons of life; has balance in life and success that will be long term. This perception feels hypocritical and difficult through his/her changing reality.

The protagonist must overcome the past and transform into a lover. The love interest, met earlier, helps in discovery and realization with a sharp wit and intelligence. S/he sees through the wealth and prestige to her/his heart. This lover helps the protagonist to rise above the conflict and trouble. As lovers, they find the truth.

The protagonist finally finds real love–has changed from being selfish and entitled to someone who listens to needs, desires feelings, likes and dislikes and knows how to communicate his/her own. Through this change the protagonist finds balance and harmony in relationship and life.

The End

And there you have it–a delicious romance plot outline that you can use over and over again–from only one Celtic Cross Tarot Spread. Why do I think this is so fun? Because using this plot I already came up with these elevator pitches:

A young heiress, happily living in the lap of luxury, finds out she has been promised to her father’s business partner. Unless she can find proof that an accidental death that occurred before she was born wasn’t her father’s fault, she will have to marry a man she loathes, or her family will lose everything. With the help of a childhood friend, she delves into her family history finding more than her heart can hold.

A Pop-Star in the middle of a world-wide tour finds out that her manager has stolen all of her money and disappeared. Not able, or willing to return to her hyper-religious family who has “dis-owned” her,  she ends up in a dive-bar in a small southern town where she sings on a bar-stool for tips. When a disgruntled lawyer gets lost and finds her way to her arms, she promises to help her get her life back.

A young developer thinks he has it all: wealth, property, a thriving business and the best name to use as a brand all over the world. When his father dies, he expects everything to smoothly continue into his wonderful future, but the will is cryptic and suddenly he has to face the questions of how his immigrant grandfather made his money. The business runs itself, or at least stays still while he tries to follow his father’s odd clues that lead him to a mysterious woman and a new understanding of himself.

Like I said, this is fun. I came up with those in the last 15 minutes. They’re not great or anything, but they have what you need to start an intriguing romance novel (imho).

Diana mentioned she might read this interpretation and write a companion piece, so keep your eyes on her website.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Advertisements

B is for Banausic and Bickham – Craft Book Review: Jack M. Bickham Double Feature

banausic beauty

banausic: adjective – relating to or concerned with earning a living; utilitarian; mechanical; practical. Not operating on a refined or elevated level; mundane.

Why Stand By?

I heard a scuffle on the sidewalk below
You put down your glass and walked to the window
She saw a hussy in a public embrace
He saw a man gettin’ his
We heard her scream
They turned back to the TV

I grabbed your glass and brought it to the window
You took a sip and poked your head out
She yelled, “Let that woman go.”
He finally called the police
We watched and waited
They turned off the lights

They were too late
We took one last look at the body
She had bled out
He was never found
You refilled your glass
I contemplated banausic windows

Today’s NaPoWriMo theme was the I, or the speaker of the poem. I thought it tied in well with witness testimony which I am studying in an online forensic psychology class through futurelearn.com

I also found inspiration in National Book Award Winner Lighthead: Poems (Penguin Poets) by Terrance Hayes, especially “Lighthead’s Guide To Addiction” and “Satchmo Returns To New Orleans.”

tools of physical labor

Craft Book Review

I first came across Jack M. Bickham‘s name while reading Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials) from the editors of Writer’s Digest. His book Writing novels that sell was mentioned in a section called Parent-Adult-Child which talked about three primary roles people/characters occupy in life.

My local library didn’t have that book, but did have Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing) and Setting (Elements of Fiction Writing), so I picked them up instead. They are both part of a series called Elements of Fiction Writing 5 Volume Set (Beginnings, Middles & Ends – Description – Setting – Characters & Viewpoint – Scene & Structure)

Setting

My Expectations: A while back in a critique meet-up, I  heard people talking about active setting. I hadn’t read A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance Your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settings by Mary Buckham yet, so I still wasn’t clear what sort of magic made setting active and hoped this book might clear that up.

Intended Audience:
All fiction writers, but it may be a little advanced for early beginners.

What I liked: It was fun to learn about setting from the man who wrote Twister which  has a vibrant setting and uses setting (weather) as a character. Not only did this book answer my questions about active setting, it inspired me, through straight-forward exercises, to think about setting differently in my novel. This book really clicked for me and helped me understand aspects of setting that I hadn’t thought of before.

What I didn’t like: The writing is very dense. Though the book isn’t very thick, it’s a slow read. Definitely worth it because I really felt aha! moments, but it felt like mining through thick stone to get to the gold.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 4/5 I recommend this book.

Scene & Structure

 My Expectations: Because I had such a good experience with Setting (Elements of Fiction Writing), I had high expectations for this book. I looked forward to seeing what sort of clarity Mr. Bickham could bring to my understanding of plot.

Intended Audience: Writers of fiction. Perhaps most useful to someone planning a novel. Though I plan to use his order of component segments of scene and sequel to evaluate my scenes during revision.

What I liked: This book did not disappoint. Mr. Bickham’s presentation and explanation of scene and sequel were eye-opening and gave me lots of ideas to evaluate and improve my draft.

What I didn’t like: This book, even more than setting, felt like a lot of reading for the amount of useful information. However, the information is so useful, that it makes it completely worthwhile.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  4/5  I recommend this book.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

I’ll see you tomorrow.

#NaNoWriMo Day 8: Crossing The Threshold

Day 8
Word count: 14,783 words
Word count goal: 16,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Crossing The Threshold
Save The Cat: Fun & Games

These images from different excursions I’ve taken, make me think of leaving the ordinary world, having to cross the threshold and embark on a physical and existential adventure. Where will your characters wander today?

#vss very short story

The brisk morning encouraged her to turn back to her comfy bed, but the slanted sunlight beckoned her to adventure. She pulled her scarf up around her nose and ears and trudged on.

Plotting with Tarot

Crossing the Threshold

Crossing the Threshold Card: Four of Swords upside-down –

Introduction: When the 4 of Swords reversed appears in a reading, you or someone very close to you is exhausted, on every level. This is not a time to push yourself beyond your limits, to do so now is to risk all that you have worked so hard for: your health, your work, your relationships. It’s more than okay to take a break. It’s critical now.

General: Generally, the reversed 4 of Swords means that in addition to feeling tired, you may be feeling a bit isolated. Do not look at this as a permanent situation. Allow yourself to rest, and know that the relationships and friendships that you need are coming. Take one step at a time. – from Psychic Revelation

What MC risks losing by Crossing the Threshold: Nine of Pentacles upside-down –

In its reversed position, the Nine of Pentacles suggests that you may be suffering from financial setbacks or you have experienced a loss due to unwise decisions or foolish actions. Your foundations may be about to give way. If they do, learn from your mistakes and build a more solid and secure foundation next time. – from biddytarot.com

Most compelling reason to cross the threshold: Queen of Wands – Desire. If she wants something, she draws it into her life. If she wants information, she’d go out and get it.

My interpretation:

I’m having a little trouble with The Four of Swords reversed for a Crossing The Threshold card. Since it’s reversed, maybe it means this is not a time for rest, that my character needs to take action. When he does take action, he risks losing his foundation. He may experience loss do to unwise decisions and foolish actions. The third card, The Queen of Wands makes total sense for this reading because my character has a mystery on his hands and is driven to find answers.

Ask Your Character

  • What is your worst memory from grade school?
  • Are you still friends with anyone from that time?
  • Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence on your life?

Word Of The Day

sanguine: adj. cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident 2. reddish; ruddy (complexion)

8 Action Verbs:

adjusted            caused           convened           effected

helped           managed           protected           simplified

Poem prompt

Run around your house and grab 5 items that all begin with the same letter. Write a poem as an ode to one of these items or that includes these items. – from Kelli Russell Agodon agodon.com
poetry prompt
I found the letter p: purse, pickles, paring knife, pot and pincushion. I think I’ll pair them with some action verbs like protected, produced, processed and play.  I’ll also add some emotions like passion, pride and patience.
Ode to a Pincushion
This is the pincushion that belonged to my mother
Its dangling strawberry escaped long ago
The pins in its flesh protected with pride
A motley collection of proof of trade plied
A hand-me-down tomato filled with love
Memories filled with patient instruction
Needles of creation, processed reflection
Holding textiles in place to be molded perfection
This is my pincushion, I won’t use another
It somehow stayed with me when all was lost
Holding together the edges that fray
I return to it daily, my passion at play

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Free Play with Phrases:

In separate lists, collect some noun phrases,some adjective phrases, some verb phrases and some adverb phrases. From each list, pick a phrase and put them together to make a sentence.

Here are the lists I collected:

Noun phrase Adjective phrase Verb phrase Adverb phrase
The sight of his face Very pricey but really beautiful Crossing boarders With ease
His roiling emotions Quite small but cheap Seducing and performing In a minute
The foolishness of her actions Covered in mud Running yourself ragged After the game
A person of passion Cowering in the corner Take it easy Every day
A pause in the battle Older than dirt Get some rest On the count of three
The agony and the ecstasy Exquisitely graceful Mastering the beast Over the lake
The headline entertainer Heaviest of all Conquering fear Under the sea
The grunting of the engines Neatly pressed Marshalling your forces Through the window
The noises of the tires High overhead Pick up the reins and drive After the sun set/ before sunset
The clock on the mantelpiece So low only she could hear Pulled one way or another Only two days ago
The belt of her robe Rattled like loose teeth Leveled at my temple As if he understood
Her father’s eyes Dotted with strip malls and gas stations Tripping an alarm system Down the road
The back of her neck Open all the way Considering the situation In the forest
The glass creatures Facing the light Developing a rapport Whenever he remembered
Old people Pressed tight Deployed about the room Through the garden
A piece of trash Floating in the air Gone out for a walk With needle and thread
The neighborhood that bordered the park Like kings Wasn’t parked Back and forth
The darkened room Like a motorcade Read the article and cursed Under his breath
The grandmother Ashleigh never knew The color of the margins of the Declaration of Independence Folded her arms Across her chest

So let’s see what kind of amazing sentences come out of this mess:

  1. His roiling emotions, so low only she could hear, picked up the reigns and drove across her chest.
  2. The agony and the ecstasy, rattling like loose teeth, tripped an alarm system under his breath.
  3. The back of her neck, the color of the margins of the Declaration of Independence, pulled one way or another with ease.
  4. The belt of her robe, open all the way, leveled at my temple after the sunset.
  5. The clock on the mantelpiece, quite small but cheap, considered the situation on the count of three.

I can see how this could be a great tool for coming up with some interesting sentences. My collection appears to be leading me toward the naughty. Maybe my character has other plans than the ones I intended.

Today’s Simple Task

Have your MC observe something from a different perspective physically (from above, from below, through a filter) and/or emotionally.

I was inspired to write this prompt by a Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt on Mundus Media Ink by Michelle Rene Goodhew

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write in first person from your MC’s perspective in your MC’s voice. Your character has been grossly betrayed by a close friend or family member.

Recommended Word Crawl

Bookshelf Word Crawl A little extra encouragement to explore your TBR (to be read) pile.

Don’t Forget To Read!

For today’s Awesome Sentence Challenge, I collected phrases from:

Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch

Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel. I am loving this novel. It’s a fun read about two people who are thrown into one crazy misunderstanding after another.

The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by Jessa Crispin

The Hiding Place by David Bell. I found this one when I started research for this year’s NaNoWriMo novel. I’m hoping it will be a good comp (comparison novel) when I finish and start to query.

Extra Challenge

Write a scene that demonstrates a flaw your main character has.

Today’s an exciting day. Today, the adventure begins!

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 6: The Point Of No Return

Day 6
Word count: 11,446 words
Word count goal: 12,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Refusal
Save The Cat: Point of No Return

Plotting with Tarot

I did a reading a bit off the book. Today, I focused on The Inciting Incident:

Inciting Incident Day 6

The Inciting Incident: The Empress Upside-down – the emotional world, the sensual world, and the possibility of new life. A tremendous potential to take an idea and turn it into a finished product; in reverse.

What is going on when The Inciting Incident happens: Ten Of Wands – Carrying a burden

How the Inciting Incident forces my MC to act: Four Of Cups Upside-down – ignoring potential, inspiration in the reverse.

My interpretation – My character’s inciting incident is a reversal of his idea that his quest was finished. He feels burdened by the knowledge that he has found. The inciting incident forces him to stop ignoring the information that has dropped in his lap.

Ask Your Character

  • How would you describe a perfect day when you were young?
  • What did you think your life would be like when you were older?
  • Do you have any favorite stories from your childhood?

Word Of The Day

quixotic: adj. extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical, or impracticable. 2. impulsive and often rashly unpredictable.

8 Action Verbs:

activated          calculated          contracted          edited

guided               lobbied              promoted            shared

Poem prompt

Theme: The point of no return

The point of not return
Return to my regimen
Regimen of daily responsibilities
Responsibilities give my life meaning
Meaning guided by principals
Principals shared through relationships
Relationships I must protect
Protect from outside forces
Forces that wish us harm
Harm guided by evil intent
Intent calculated by selfish will
Will lobbied to tear me from safety
Safety the promise of my daily prayers
Prayers of thanks with wants folded in
In hopes that I would never reach
Reach the point of no return

Note: I’ve wanted to try one of these poems since I saw one of the other poets in #OctPoWriMo write one. I think it’s a non-rhyming form of Loop poetry. It was fun and flowed well. I think the themes and motives of my MC are becoming very clear and his motives are clear in this poem. Using some of today’s Action Verbs helped guide me along.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Explore connotations: Choose a word (may I suggest one of the active verbs or the word of the day) and look it up in your thesaurus (thesaurus.com). Pick one synonym that has positive connotations and choose one that has negative connotations and write a sentence for each one. Read the sentences aloud. Do the particular connotations of your chosen word influence how you write the rest of the sentence?

Today’s Simple Task

Show your Main Character’s greatest weakness. Put him or her in a moral dilemma.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write about the last thing your character would ever want to do. Then write a scene forcing your character to do the last thing they would ever want to do. – inspired by prompt from Josie (NaNo poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

The Nightmare Before Christmas Crawl

I tried this crawl last year and enjoyed it. Like they mention in the crawl, the movie Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is great for watching anytime between Halloween and Christmas.

And Don’t Forget To Read!

A great writer reads and reads and reads. It may be harder to feel like you Cover of A Long Walk to Waterhave time to read during NaNoWriMo, but it’s still important. Yesterday, I finished reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, based on the true story of Salva Dut. It is the story of his young life fleeing the war in Sudan and his efforts as an adult to bring water to the people of his home country. The book is well written and a good read. I enjoyed it in little bites during the commercials of the Seahawks game.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 5: The Refusal and the First Week Sunday Summary

Day 5
Word count: 9,270 words
Word count goal: 10,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Refusal
Save The Cat: Debate

Today, I dove into my surreal images folder on Pinterest. Today my character will be convincing himself that his ordinary life is better than the call to adventure. He’ll be considering the structure he has created that constitutes his home and relationships.

Plotting with Tarot

Today’s Hero’s Journey reading is The Refusal. The center card is The Refusal card, the one to the left is your MC’s biggest fear about the Call to Adventure. The card to the right the responsibilities that can’t be abandoned. It is why he can’t refuse.

The refusal.jpg

Page Of Cups – Deep personal relationships

Six of Cups Upside-Down – represents a relationship you’ve had since very young or a soulmate connection

King of Wands Upside-Down – Inspired creativity

My interpretation – This reading makes sense for my Main Character. He does not want to answer the call because he wants to stay home with his family and enjoy his retirement. The Six of Cups in the reverse position represents his fear of hurting or losing these relationships. The King of Wands in the reverse represents his daily responsibilities to others, not wandering into creative solutions, but the repetitive and expected behaviors that create trust in these relationships. His refusal has to do with maintaining what is expected of him, but he will have to respond to the call of adventure to maintain this daily life and protect his relationships.

Ask Your Character

  • What words of wisdom would you like to pass on?
  • Is there something you’ve always wanted to know, but never asked?
  • Is there something you’ve never told anyone, but want to?

Word Of The Day

eldritch: adj. eerie, other worldly, weird, spooky

8 Action Verbs:

acquired          built          continued          earned

grouped          litigated          produced            shaped

Poem prompt

Write a Constanza about doubt.

Threats to Fear

I sit and ponder deepest doubt
To lose the ones that I hold dear
For them to turn from me, my fear

I protect them, day in day out
If I should go who will fix things
Resist decay and loss time brings

And who will tend the little sprout
A stranger’s hand won’t be the same
A different voice his rage to tame

What if the soil dries up from drought
Wells of wishes not to be found
Who will tend the fertile ground

Too far away to hear the shout
I will not know when dangers near
Impossible these threats to clear

I linger here and ponder doubt
But know I have no choice to stay
I hope my heart will know the way

Awesome Sentence Challenge

noun (or noun phrase) + verb (or verb phrase)
Write a page full of two word sentences. Try to convey as much information as possible with only two words by using specific nouns and strong, active verbs.

Today’s Simple Task

Think of your favorite scene from any movie or TV show. What makes it so great? Try to incorporate its strengths into a scene you write today.

Warm-up Exercise

Have your MC write his or her will or manifesto.

Recommended Word Crawl

Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy crawl.

Sunday Summary

This was a short week. Hard to believe we’ve only been at this since Wednesday. How’s it going so far?  I hope everyone got a good start, but if you didn’t, there is no time like the present. Grab a prompt and write a scene.

Have you found any of these prompts particularly helpful? Is there something you would like me to add? What do you think of plotting with the Tarot?

For me, I’m finding that doing the reading and writing my daily poem, get me focused on the day’s scene(s). They help me focus on the characters I’ll be writing about, really diving into their feelings and motivations. Then, when I open up my story and start writing, the words flow. I feel more prepared and organized than I have in the past.

This week, in The Hero’s Journey, we’ll be hitting The Inciting Incident and heading into Act II. We’ll meet mentors, allies and enemies. Exciting! So many fun things to explore.

I hope you’ll continue to join me in 2017’s National Novel Writing Month adventure.

Happy Reading and Writing!

NaNoWriMo Tools

Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index

The Character Name Generator

Mood Fuse

Cliche Finder

Free Writing Workbook

Random number generator

Virtual dice & coin flip

Pound-O-Dice

Waterproof PVC Playing Cards Set Pure Color Black Poker Card Classic Magic Tricks Tool ,54pcs/Deck

Oxford Extreme Index Cards, 3 x 5 Inches, Assorted Colors, 100 per pack (04736)

Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 3 x 3 Inches (Blue Monster)

#NaNoWriMo Day 3: Call To Adventure

Day 3
Word count: 4,393 words
Word count goal: 6,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Call To Adventure
Save The Cat: Set-up, Catalyst, Debate

I love these images. The one on the left makes me think of the fool card from the tarot, jumping into his new adventure without worry of what’s ahead. The other two images make me think of going on a group quest. Each character’s strengths adding to the others’ to conquer every conflict thrown their way.

#vss very short story

The hinges creaked as he opened the door a crack. There was a whole world of unknowns out there. A gust of wind forced the doorknob from his hand and flung the door wide. He stepped.

Plotting with Tarot

nov 3.jpg

For today’s reading, I’m back to focusing on my main character. Today he gets a call to adventure. Something happens to draw him out of his Ordinary World.

Call to Adventure: King of Cups – an intellectual approach to love

What is happening when the call comes or your MC’s goal before the Call to Adventure: Ace of Pentacles – a new sense of security found through work and determination

Why your MC would consider the Call to Adventure: Nine of Cups – self-sufficiency, doesn’t need an outside source to tell him his work is good

My interpretation: My character’s Call to Adventure is a need for answers. He worries that his family is in danger and has a driving need to protect them. He is working on fixing a fence when the call came in the form of a piece of paper found in his garage. He considers answering the call because he is self-sufficient and feels responsible for everything that happens on his property.

Ask Your Character

  • What are the funniest stories your family tells about you?
  • What are the most embarrassing stories your family tells about you?
  • What’s a story your family tells about you that you hate?
  • What’s a story your family tells about you that isn’t true?

 

Word Of The Day

susurrus: n. whispering, rustling

The susurrus of dry leaves was like writhing snakes.

8 Action Verbs:

accounted for          brought           consulted          documented

governed                  licensed           printed              selected

Poem prompt

Write an ode to change. The change can be a change of scenery as in going on an adventure, an adventure into a new life, or any kind of change.

Twists of Fate

Our stories are but arrays of change
The joys and suffering these turns have brought
Hills and valleys as fate will arrange
Deliver conflict and suspense to every plot
Jealous hearts may wish to exchange
But they fill their minds with tortured thought
Fantasies malign to derange
When contrasts to one’s reality is sought
Happiness and self-worth may estrange
When forced revisions are wrought
Metamorphosis may feel strange
Along the path with dangers fraught

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Nominative Absolutes (also known as absolutes): is a noun phrase used as a sentence modifier. Try these five different ways of constructing nominative absolutes:

  1. noun or noun phrase + adjective: He sang, his voice low, while he pushed Billy on the swing.
  2. noun or noun phrase + present participle: He jumped, his jacket billowing like a parachute, into the mud.
  3. noun or noun phrase + past participle: The window, glass fogged from the heat of his breath, rattled in the wind.
  4. noun or noun phrase + prepositional phrase: Hands reaching out, Billy said, “up.”
  5. noun or noun phrase + noun or noun phrase: The woman, her grin a menacing rack of knives, motioned for him to join her.

Today’s Simple Task

Write a scene where your Main Character acts selflessly to help someone else (saves the cat, or dog or hamster).

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. What was the last lie your Main Character told? Who did he tell it to? Why did he lie? How did he feel about telling it? Would he tell it again?

Today’s Recommended Word Crawl

Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party crawl

This crawl is based on a really cute show on YouTube featuring many classic authors. Each episode is about 10 min. long.

 

Other Blogs With Daily Writing Prompts

Putting My Feet In The Dirt:a list of prompts for each day

5 Fun and Useful Books of Writing Prompts from Rachel Poli

Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline: Your 30-Day Cheatsheet from Christine Frazier at Better Novel Project

30 Daily NanoWriMo Prompts from K.L. Whightman

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge from TA Writes

Weekend Writing Prompts from Dave Farmer

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 2: The Antagonist’s Ordinary World

Day 2
Word count: 2,259 words
Word count goal: 4,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Ordinary World – Antagonist
Save The Cat: Theme stated / Set-up

I love this painting by Alex Rubio (first image on left). If you would like to learn more about his work, here’s a video on YouTube where he talks about it.

Today, I’m focusing on my antagonists. There are many in my novel. One is a fireworks distributor, thus the fireworks labels. Plus, Frankenstein lighting an M-80 is just fun.

#vss very short story

Peter found some old fireworks tucked in the back corner of the garage. After lighting them off, he drove to the courthouse and had his name legally changed to Frankenpyro.

Plotting with Tarot

For today’s reading, I’m going to focus on my main antagonist. Though all of my antagonists committed crimes and are very bad guys, only one is the guy “whodunnit”. Let’s see what the cards say for his Ordinary World reading.

Antagonists Ordinary World

Ordinary World: Page of Swords- someone who spurs you on with discomfort and irritation rather than command

What he likes: Knight of Swords – passionate thinking and mental determination

What bothers him: The Fool – a new beginning, an impassioned start

My interpretation:

This reading makes sense for my character. He is the type of guy who is constantly coming up with a new “business venture”. He likes finding the business idea and starting it, but then, when it doesn’t work out, he hates the disappointment. He would like some security for his family and a constant pay-check, maybe some benefits, but then he discovers the “next great idea”.

Ask Your Character

  • How has your life been different than what you imagined?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?

Word Of The Day

imbroglio: n. a confused, embarrassing situation

8 Action Verbs:

accomplished          briefed          constructed          distributed

generated                led                   presided                 searched

Poem prompt

What symbols represent your antagonist? Pick one and use it as a metaphor for your antagonist’s ordinary world.

King Of The Forest

pride
fiercely protective
awareness to competition
long and steady, not quick and easy
he knows he is king of the forest lands

strength
the elk calls his herd
to cross the river
he smells other elk
drawn to the salt, he licks

stamina
the still air cracks
he runs until he falls
chest heaving with final breaths

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Simile: Imagine a person or object. This is the A of a comparison A is like B. Make a list of everything A is like. Try to get as abstract and creative as possible. List 30 to 40 things A is like. Look back through your list and choose your favorites. Compare A to B using like or as.

Similes are important for describing sensual information, so you may want to choose a sight, smell, taste, or texture for A.

Today’s Simple Task

Focus on your genre. Write a genre specific scene. If your novel is humor, write a comedic scene. Writing a thriller? Write a scary scene. Writing a mystery? Write about a red herring.

Warm-up Exercise

Set a timer for 15 minutes.  What does your antagonist want and why? What’s the first thing they will do to get it? -prompt inspired by Diana Gabaldon (Nano poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

Since today is about antagonists, I recommend the Mean Girls word crawl. Then, once you’ve reached your word goal, you can relax and watch it Mean Girls.

Have a great day of writing and reading!

 

National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) Day 1: The Ordinary World

Day 1
Word count: 0 words
Word count goal: 2,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Ordinary World
Save The Cat: Opening image / Theme stated

Welcome to the first day of your new novel. Today is all about that opening scene. What is your protagonist up to when first introduced? What is her daily life like before the conflict of your story happens? What is the call to action of your story? What happens that creates conflict and makes your protagonist break from the monotony of routine?

Don’t forget to draw the reader in with rich sensory information. I’ll be focusing on smell and texture in my opening scene.

#vss very short story

After the crash, he spent days wandering the forest. His mind began playing tricks on him. He smelled Ivory soap everywhere, bringing the panic of being locked in that horrible bathroom.

Plotting with Tarot

reading nov 1

So let’s see what the cards have to say about my protagonist’s ordinary world. Thinking about my character, I draw a card. This represents his Ordinary World. Then I draw two more cards and place one to the left and one to the right. The card to the left is what my character loves about his Ordinary World; the one to the right is what my hero believes is lacking about the Ordinary World. It’s what bothers him.

Ace of Pentacles – a new sense of security found through work and determination

The Magician – represents a new beginning- creativity and productivity and a connection to the divine.

Queen of Pentacles – practical and thrifty; knows how to make much with very little; as such is never in a state of want

My interpretation:

I hope this reading gives you some insight into the Ordinary World of your main character. Here is how I interpret this for mine. Please keep in mind that I am brand new to this and only using it as a plotting tool.

My main character has recently retired, but has strictly scheduled his time, volunteering and working at his investment properties. He was an engineer and now spends most of his time fixing things. The Ordinary World card, Ace of Pentacles, speaks to his new retired life and his new self-imposed rigid work schedule.

What he likes about his Ordinary World, The Magician, represents the projects he’s working on and the joy he finds working with his hands. He also finds community in his church and does not respect idleness.

What he doesn’t like, Queen of Pentacles, represents frustration that the things he fixes keep breaking. Something is always in need of repair. He feels like he is never making headway on his to-do list. It also upsets him that his investments of time and money don’t pan out for him. Sometimes he feels like the world is out to steal away every penny he has earned.

This is all great fodder for introducing my character. Now, I have to find ways to bring it into today’s scenes.

Ask Your Character

  • What are you proudest of in your life?
  • When have you felt most alone?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Word Of The Day

autodidact: n. a person who has learned a subject without a teacher or formal training; a self-taught person.

8 Action Verbs:

One thing I’m constantly working on is using stronger and more precise language. Try to use at least one of these action verbs in your story today.

accelerated         balanced          consolidated          discovered

gathered             lectured            presented               scheduled

Poem prompt

In his book, This Year You Write Your Novel by Mosley, Walter (2009) Paperback, Walter Mosley said,

“Poetry is the fount of all writing. Without a deep understanding of poetry and its practices, any power the writer might have is greatly diminished.”

I ended up using some poems I wrote in my first novel. I recently read Mogens and Other Stories by Jens Peter Jacobsen and he included  a poem (in the form of a song) in every story. You never know what writing a poem will inspire. Throughout #Writober, my poems inspired my story ideas, so I hope poetry prompts with do the same for you.

I also found that combining many different prompts made for more creative poems. Can you combine one of the visual images with the word of the day, or something in the tarot reading and/or the action verbs?

Shadowpoetry.com has great explanations and examples of different poetry forms. I recommend trying a different one each day.

Today’s poetry prompt: Have your main character write a poem about his or her ordinary life. Let them express their current emotional state in a present tense free verse.

I Don’t Write Poetry

I would not write a poem, but
If I gathered up some words for today
And presented them in that kind of way
I might say my time is not meant for wordplay

I would not write a poem, but
I hear a loud squawking jay
Lazy bird stealing others’ eggs
Nature’s archetype of foul play

I would not write a poem, but
Let petals fall where they may
Life is a state of constant decay
But hard work helps the end’s delay

 

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Writing a novel is not only about writing an engaging story, it’s also about writing exciting and interesting sentences. So with the help of Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers by Barbara Baig, I hope to improve my sentences with a daily challenge.

Because today is about getting to know our protagonists, today’s challenge is about collecting language.

Sentence Challenge: Find your character’s voice – Imagine your character speaking. Make a long list of words s/he uses. Use the words to come up with sentences and phrases your character uses often. Discover a catch phrase or two.

I have a friend who started to do impressions of my family members. Whenever he voices my brother, he says, “Always a pleasure.” I hadn’t noticed my brother said that phrase, but now I can’t not notice it, and he says it a lot.

Since then, I’ve noticed my friend says, “I see,” and I say, “No problem,” way too much.

Do you know what your catch phrase is? Listen for it (Or not. Once you discover it, it’ll probably drive you nuts).

Today’s Simple Task

Today is not only about introducing your main character, you need to put that character in a setting; his or her ordinary world.  While describing the setting, describe an object you know will be important later in the story.

Warm-up Exercise

Set a timer to 15 minutes. What does your main character want and why? What’s the first thing they will do to get it? – prompt  by Diana Gabaldon (Nano poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

Something I have found fun and motivational about NaNoWriMo are the word crawls. They are story, or task related games that challenge you to reach your word goals. On the NaNoWriMo website go to the forums and find Word Wars, Prompts, & Sprints. There you will find different crawls that writers have created. Nice NaNoer CJ Grace put together a google doc with a bunch of crawls you can download and do offline if you like to unplug while you work. There is also a great list of crawls at wikiwrimo.org.

Today, I recommend Write Your Way to a Clean House word crawl. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet your word goals and have a clean house to start the week?

Final Challenge

Keep a notebook and pen on the nightstand, or somewhere you will grab it the second you wake up tomorrow. The moment you open your eyes, try to describe the last dream image of the night. Write everything that pops into your head for at least one page. And yes, I mean before your first cup of coffee.

So there it all is. A ton of fun ways to stay motivated today. All of these prompts are meant to get your ideas flowing and words on the page. Pick and choose what works for you. I hope you have the best NaNoWriMo ever. Check back tomorrow for more inspiration, prompts and fun. Now to the writing!

Happy Reading and Writing

Power through Act 2: Tricks and Tips for finishing your story.

Today we have a special treat, a guest post from award winning script writer and founder of WeFixYourScript.com, Geoffrey Calhoun. His advice applies to all writers milling about in the middle of their stories.

WeFixYourScript.com

Finishing Your Script by Defeating Act Two

We’ve all been there. Stuck. Not sure where to go. Our lead characters milling about as they are lost in act two. Suffering in their own purgatory, begging us to usher them to act three. Do we cheat and jump a few sharks or dig some plot holes to get them there? NO! We will not allow that. We know better (cue rousing war speech soundtrack). We shall not stoop to that level. We shall not let our script be damned by desperation and deadlines. We shall not save the cat…because WE ARE SPARTA! (sorry, got a little excited) WE ARE SCREENWRITERS!!!

Then what do we do? Give up? Hell no! We get creative, and use a few tricks. Let’s get started. Everyone gets stuck. It’s normal. If you are a writer and don’t get stuck during your work then I’m going to pray for you. Because one, you’re not human (possibly a robot overlord) and two, your work is probably overly outlined which can result in a work that lacks a special spark.

Getting stuck is the worst, most annoying, terrible, frustrating, anxiety inducing, best, amazing, and euphoric thing that can happen to a writer. Many writers do extensive outlines to avoid getting stuck. This does work, but can end up giving you a story that is stale and lacks a certain creativity to it. We are not those people. We write from the heart. We pour ourselves onto the page. I’m a firm believer in writing a mini-outline, which is no more than 15 lines and minimally filled out. Then I begin my script and practically throw the outline away (I ignore it). I have a general idea of where I want to go and I let myself get there by allowing my inner creative spark to flourish. Inevitably it creates something amazing and beautiful. But eventually you can get stuck. Which happens around act two. That’s where everyone gets stuck btw. Writing through act two and not giving up is what separates a Youngling from a Jedi (I went there).

Mind Map

So, we’re stuck in act two. No biggie. Time for some free-form thought. I mind map. It’s fun. You put an idea (plot) into a bubble then branch out from those ideas which in turn have branches from those ideas and soon you’ve filled a page in twenty minutes with some pretty killer stuff. See the great thing about this is that my mini-outline gives me a general idea of where I need to go. Having that thought in my head while I mind map gives me direction. This approach forces you to creatively go to different places than you expected it. Which brings out that inner spark and makes your script more original and less predictable. So basically better.

 

Now that we’ve learned a nice trick on how to get out of a creative slump, let’s discuss a mysterious and ancient technique that we are already using. Many writers don’t realize what this technique is really used for. Are you ready…wait for it…SUBPLOTS. Yep. The big mystery is solved. You’re already using these. I’m not just talking about your B-plot which has tragically been downgraded to love stories (it’s actually the heartbeat of your script) but actual subplots. These are the added meat that get you through act two. Which is why they come in late act one and are resolved in early act three. Use your subplots with your supporting character. It does double duty this way. The supporting character gets developed more and we beef up our act two. You can even use a subplot that focuses on your antagonist as well. Oh man! Now we’ve got our main plot/the B-plot/a subplot with our supporting character/ and another subplot with our antagonist. 4 plots! Holy crap! We are going to be chewing through the pages of act two!

Now do your mini-outline, bust out some mind maps, throw in some killer subplots, and get out there.

Act two is the death star (oh no he’s going full star wars mode) you are Luke as he barrels down that narrow trench, your nav computer is your outline that you have to let go of, your mind map is the force…fire away. BOOM!

Great shot kid, now don’t get cocky

-Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Geoffrey is listed as a top 100 indie-writer Geoffrey Calhounin the world. He is a multi award winning and produced writer that is the founder or wefixyourscript.com.

You can find more information at:

Twitter: @wefixyourscript

Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/wefixyourscript/

Instagram: We Fix Your Script

Email: info@wefixyourscript.com

Poetry and The Fiction Writer

Pictures of books I recently read as a poetry study

Discovering The Art Of series and further study

The collection of books pictured above was inspired by discovering The Art of series at my local library. The Art of discusses different aspects of writing with examples from a great variety of texts. I wanted to learn more about the authors who wrote the series, so I picked up their poetry and essays as well. I’m glad I did. This group of books :intelligent discussion, imparted wisdom and beautiful poetry.

But I’m a fiction writer, why spend time with poetry and poets?

Words are a writer’s tools and poets have to use words in the most efficient manner for maximum emotional effect.

Ellen Bryant Voigt

The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song

Rhythm is what makes Ms. Voigt’s poems so amazing. Her contribution to The Art Of series is my favorite of the bunch. I learned some interesting vocabulary specific to the rhythm of words:

enjambment – the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break.

trochee – a foot of two syllables, a long followed by a short in quantitative meter, or a stressed followed by an unstressed in accentual meter.

caesura –

1. Prosody. a break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line, as in know then thyself presume not God to scan.
2. Classical Prosody. a division made by the ending of a word within a foot, or sometimes at the end of a foot, especially in certain recognized places near the middle of a verse.
3. any break, pause, or interruption.

fricative

palimpsest – a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.

Headwaters: Poems

I loved these poems. Though completely lacking in punctuation, the message is never lost and the rhythm is clear. Her word choice is beautiful. These poems felt like a magical discovery.

Mark Doty

The Art of Description: World into Word

I enjoyed the idea of “the sensorium”–finding the places of sensory overlap and allowing the senses their complexly interactive life.

I also noted that I should read :

Middlemarch by George Eliot and
Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975-1997 by James Galvin

Deep Lane: Poems

These poems take you on walks with the dog and inspections of the garden. They take you there through lovely description and word choice.

Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter is the editor of The Art of series.

The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot

Full of examples of how subtext is used in fiction.

Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction

Mr. Baxter’s essays get into his thought process. They let the reader into the flow of a writer mind.

Here I also learned a new word: Pusillanimous – lacking courage and resolution

Brenda Ueland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

It felt like serendipity when Charles Baxter started talking about Brenda Ueland’s book because I already had it on my bookshelf. It’s a great book for those times you need a cheerleader, which, as writers, we often do.

I just opened to a random page and found this bit of fun:

Now Blake thought that this creative power should be kept alive in all people for all of their lives. And so do I. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the Spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.   –Brenda Ueland

Excited to fill up on some poetry?

Here are some links to poetry sites I enjoy, so you can get your fill while you wait for the books you just ordered from Amazon to arrive  🙂

Poetry Foundation

Poets and Writers

Eunoia Review

Tweetspeak Poetry

Are You Thrilled

Joy Write

Happy Reading and Writing

Don’t be pusillanimous. Get out there and explore!

Who is your favorite poet?

What is your favorite poetry book?

What is your favorite poetry website?