fun with plotting

Plotting is one of my weak points, I admit it. I love creating characters, and worlds, but sometimes making enough stuff “happen” to them is tricky. I love my characters! And just like my friends and family, I want to keep them happy. But happy characters make boring stories. So sometimes I need a bit of help coming up with plot twists and complications.

This weekend, a writing friend of mine mentioned her method for working through writer’s block and plotting: Tarot. Immediately, I knew I had to try it. I have a few decks of tarot cards, leftover from my teenage and college years. I used to love to do spreads and muse about the possible meanings of the cards that came up. So I did a spread to hopefully spark some ideas for a new series I’m planning.

Here is her spread outline:

Click this image to go to Ripley’s site for more info. And then follow her, because she is awesome 🙂

And here is what happened for me:

Look how wrinkly my old tarot mat is! I think it has been in a drawer for 10 years.

Probably the best thing about using tarot for plotting is how variable and individual the interpretation can be. I don’t feel like I’m being told where the plot should go, but more that I’m being inspired. I am sure a dozen people would get a dozen different stories from this spread. The story I am trying to plot (and I use that term loosely) is for my erotica pen name, and I think it will be a series of stories about some kind of cat shifter group. Panthers? Maybe Mountain Lions? I’m not sure yet. So my story question(s) were NOT specific (breaking rules right off the bat, lol.) But anyway, here’s what I got:

  1. Conflict at the start (Page of Swords) could be the rules and authority of the shifter “pack.”
  2. Ordinary world (Page of Cups) the expectation to fall into line and serve the pack, or live by the pack’s rules?
  3. Inner motive (four of Wands) the desire for peace, and freedom from servitude or expectations.
  4. Mentor (Page of Pentacles) maybe a friend who is a record keeper, who can find a loophole or an old, little known fact that will assist the MC in gaining freedom/happiness?
  5. Pull of Home (two of Cups) the desire to form a family, to recreate the loving family of MCs youth.
  6. The Gate Keeper (Queen of Swords) possibly the threat of expulsion from the pack, and/or inability to procreate.
  7. The Key (Ace of Swords) a very powerful love – maybe the mating bond?
  8. Decision (the High Priestess) trusting nature/science while rejecting the socio-political traditions of the pack.
  9. First step (the Sun) marriage or bonding ritual.
  10. Internal outcome (queen of Wands) a loving, trustworthy partner.
  11. External outcome (three of Cups) love and happiness 4-eva!

Yay! A happily ever after ending. Perfect. And actually, a decent road map to a shifter story. I’ve been having fun writing menage stories, so maybe this will be a story about a shifter who wants to form a bond with two others, while pack tradition dictates only one mate per cat? Maybe bisexuality is not accepted in this particular shifter pack, and my m/m/f MC group will need to move away in order to find happiness?… lots of ideas.

Not a bad technique, right? And definitely more fun than staring at a blinking cursor on a white screen.

Let me know what you think! And if you try this (or another spread) I’d love to hear how it works out for you 🙂

4 thoughts on “fun with plotting

  1. I loved seeing another person’s interpretation of this spread! I’m glad you had fun with it, too.
    I’m curious: how would you have interpreted, for example, The Tower as the Outcome?

    • It was fun! And how lucky was it to get such a total HEA card for the outcome, huh?

      Hmm. the Tower would have been a difficult ending to get… I think I might see it as a bittersweet ending (because I have to end them happy!) so maybe they would be together, but unable to have kids (since they want a family.) Or maybe they could be together, but would have to go through some kind of battle first, and would have lost people they care about? Or maybe it would mean a cliffhanger ending (which I never do!) and force me to do another reading for book 2’s plot 🙂

      Thanks so much for sharing your spread technique! I love it.

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