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Using Tarot cards to develop plot or characters

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Old 03-20-2010, 04:06 PM
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Default Using Tarot cards to develop plot or characters


Does anyone here use Tarot cards?

I have several decks and I've been reading for a little over a year. I had a rough idea for my story but I found trying to develop a plot somewhat intimidating. So I decided one day to make up a Tarot spread to solve the problem. I find the cards to be a fantastic creative resource and I'm just wanting to see if there are any other Tarot enthusiasts on the board and what they think of using the cards for this purpose.

Looking forward to hearing from everyone.

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Old 03-20-2010, 06:32 PM
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I have tarot cards, but haven't used them in years. Never thought about using them to develop characters, though. It sounds interesting, and I might try it some day. Thanks for the tip.

Btw care to explain a bit more how you do it?
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:06 PM
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There have been a couple of novels written based on Tarot. Kind of a sixties thing.
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:28 PM
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Indeed - The Red Violin was started off with the Tarot idea. It's a movie, but in reference to plot....
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:56 AM
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Had my cards read once. Reader claimed I would someday meet a group of interesting people from places far and wide. She went on to say that I would become a member of this like minded group and through this association my life would be enriched.

I'm still hoping her prophecy comes to fruition. Until then I will hang out here and wait.
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Old 03-21-2010, 01:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
There have been a couple of novels written based on Tarot. Kind of a sixties thing.
There was a bizarre childrens TV series in the early 70's called, I think, Ace of Wands. It was, as I remember, quite surreal for its time.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:19 AM
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Sounds like an interesting way to approach the plot I'd be interested to hear your invented tarot spread.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by SW View Post
Indeed - The Red Violin was started off with the Tarot idea. It's a movie, but in reference to plot....
Really?? Wow, I didn't know that! Ha. My Mom loved that movie; she'd freak out if she found out it was the product of a Tarot spread. LOL

I'm not sure why the Tarot is so associated with flakiness, acid trips or Dali-esque mindsets. I've found it to be very grounded and much deeper than I had originally thought. I would offer to do a spread for others, but I don't know if it would work as well. This is because it utilizes your own subconscious and dredges ideas up. Like using a cattle prod on your muse... lol. Actually, you don't really even need to know the traditional meanings of each card; you can just go with whatever first pops into your head. Although knowing the card meanings/energies gives you more nuances and possibilities. If you want to pick up a deck for yourself, you should go to Aeclectic Tarot (.com). They have descriptions and reviews of hundreds of different kinds of decks. It just depends on what kind of artwork you like.

I used this spread for developing a plot:

_________4_____7____10

__1____2____5_____8____11____12___13

_________3_____6_____9

1 - Either your main character or the setting (or both)
2 - Conflict
3 and 4 - Details or characters involved in the conflict
5 - Plot twist #1
6 and 7 - Details or characters that help or complicate the plot
8 - Plot twist #2
9 and 10 - Details or characters that help or complicate the plot
11 - Crisis
12 - Climax
13 - Resolution

If you prefer to use the detail cards as JUST details, you can pull separate cards for your characters and their roles. I've created my cast of characters by pulling 3 cards for each. It's amazing how the character just pops into your head in such a real way when you use this technique. I mentioned to my Mom that I had used my cards to create characters and she said that was "cheating" and that it wasn't really my own idea if I resorted to cards. I beg to differ. It's still my mind coming up with the interpretations. And, since I believe in divine intervention and "helpers", this gives them the opportunity to work more directly with me in a concrete way. Now this is just my own view, but I believe that everybody's got a team that works with them somehow. When you're "in the zone" and really feeling a good flow of creativity, that's you being tuned into your muse or your guide/helper. It's their job to coordinate this flow; you just have to be receptive to it.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:59 AM
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Really?? Wow, I didn't know that! Ha. My Mom loved that movie; she'd freak out if she found out it was the product of a Tarot spread. LOL
I think SW is refering to the tarot cards in the movie

I mentioned to my Mom that I had used my cards to create characters and she said that was "cheating" and that it wasn't really my own idea if I resorted to cards. I beg to differ. It's still my mind coming up with the interpretations.
Same here. Some people don't want to discuss their work with others because they'll feel like other people have taken over their story. Me, I like to talk about it as much as possible because it'll stimulate my own interpretations.

I'll probably try your spread sometime! See what comes from it
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by areilla10 View Post
Really?? Wow, I didn't know that! Ha. My Mom loved that movie; she'd freak out if she found out it was the product of a Tarot spread. LOL

I'm not sure why the Tarot is so associated with flakiness, acid trips or Dali-esque mindsets. I've found it to be very grounded and much deeper than I had originally thought. I would offer to do a spread for others, but I don't know if it would work as well. This is because it utilizes your own subconscious and dredges ideas up. Like using a cattle prod on your muse... lol. Actually, you don't really even need to know the traditional meanings of each card; you can just go with whatever first pops into your head. Although knowing the card meanings/energies gives you more nuances and possibilities. If you want to pick up a deck for yourself, you should go to Aeclectic Tarot (.com). They have descriptions and reviews of hundreds of different kinds of decks. It just depends on what kind of artwork you like.

I used this spread for developing a plot:

_________4_____7____10

__1____2____5_____8____11____12___13

_________3_____6_____9

1 - Either your main character or the setting (or both)
2 - Conflict
3 and 4 - Details or characters involved in the conflict
5 - Plot twist #1
6 and 7 - Details or characters that help or complicate the plot
8 - Plot twist #2
9 and 10 - Details or characters that help or complicate the plot
11 - Crisis
12 - Climax
13 - Resolution

If you prefer to use the detail cards as JUST details, you can pull separate cards for your characters and their roles. I've created my cast of characters by pulling 3 cards for each. It's amazing how the character just pops into your head in such a real way when you use this technique. I mentioned to my Mom that I had used my cards to create characters and she said that was "cheating" and that it wasn't really my own idea if I resorted to cards. I beg to differ. It's still my mind coming up with the interpretations. And, since I believe in divine intervention and "helpers", this gives them the opportunity to work more directly with me in a concrete way. Now this is just my own view, but I believe that everybody's got a team that works with them somehow. When you're "in the zone" and really feeling a good flow of creativity, that's you being tuned into your muse or your guide/helper. It's their job to coordinate this flow; you just have to be receptive to it.

Thanks, that's pretty interesting! I am already working on two novels (one barely started, one almost finished) and at least two more on hold, but I'll see about a short story based on this.
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Old 03-21-2010, 01:19 PM
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As good away to produce stale "paint by numbers" work as anything other cookie-cutter, I guess.
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Old 03-21-2010, 01:37 PM
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That depends what you mean. All stories have a start, build up, climax and finale. That doesn't mean all stories are the same.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:02 PM
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Of course not.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:05 PM
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Novels have been patterned on: The Odyssey, Labors of Hercules, Houses of the Zodiac, Tempations of Christ, Apocalypse of St. John, The Iliad...
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Old 03-21-2010, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
As good away to produce stale "paint by numbers" work as anything other cookie-cutter, I guess.
Well if the spread seems "cookie cutter" in its progression, there's no rule saying it HAS to be this way. You can create your own spread however you like. And as for the Tarot cards producing cookie cutter characters or scenarios, I seriously doubt that would happen. There are 78 cards in the deck, each one with its own energy or meaning and each one with an infinite number of interpretations depending on who is reading it. The closer you look at them the deeper you go. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana tell the story of Man's journey from birth through death and all the milestones he passes on his way. These are common themes, things we all experience in the course of our lives, such as death, love, ruin, learning, creation, and enlightenment.

I have an idea. Somebody give me a name for a character - just a name - and I'll put together a rough character sketch based on whichever cards I pull for him or her.
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Old 03-24-2010, 08:26 AM
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This is interesting. I have Tarot cards. Never thought of using them this way. I might have to try it.

As to why they are associated with flakiness, etc, that's because that is how people who read them have been perceived for many years. It's the "new age gypsy wanna be that is really an airhead" that makes the most noise about reading Tarot, while the centered indiviual doesn't go around telling people they do it.
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:13 AM
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Two rules I live by

Dont trust gypsies

And

Dont trust gypsies with your car.
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Old 03-24-2010, 12:03 PM
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Good rules.

Add to them my sister's rule. Never spend the night with a man who has more than three televisions in his living room. Especially if they're sill in boxes
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Old 03-24-2010, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
Good rules.

Add to them my sister's rule. Never spend the night with a man who has more than three televisions in his living room. Especially if they're sill in boxes
Ah. If only I'd heard that advice ten years ago... Does that apply to boxes of leather jackets and computer motherboards as well?

As to the tarot thing, I have several packs somewhere, but I've not had them out for about 15 years. It's an interesting idea though, would probably be even more interesting if I used my Aleister Crowley Satanic Tarot...
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by areilla10 View Post
I have an idea. Somebody give me a name for a character - just a name - and I'll put together a rough character sketch based on whichever cards I pull for him or her.
Well, I'm curious what you come up with. The name is Kaitlyn Brandybuck.
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by areilla10 View Post
Does anyone here use Tarot cards?
I prefer to get divination from carrots when writing novels.

As the enthusiasts would have noticed, I dedicated my first published novel to carrots.

Pete
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:43 AM
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Cool. When the volumes are collected, you can dedicate them to succatash.
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:16 AM
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I prefer to visit a Polish shaman named Al. He tosses the hamster bones and reads them with astounding accuracy. From this divination he gives me my list of characters, story plot, odds of it becoming published. Cost varies according to your wallet, and how much writing you intend to do. You have three levels to chose from;

Gold $499.99 (two easy installments)
Silver $199.99
Bronze $19.99

My luck with Bronze has not paid off but Al warned me that Bronze is really iffy. Next time, I intend to skip Silver and go for the Gold. Al says that Gold is a sure thing...a bestseller. Shamans don't lie.

BTW anybody here know how to read tea leaves?
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Old 03-27-2010, 04:23 PM
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I feel more trusting of tea leaves vs tarot for some reason.
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:36 AM
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I believe ther eis a book called Tarot for Writers or something like that. Check it out.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:26 AM
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I love the idea of using tarot cards to come up with a plot.. very creative
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:31 PM
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You could just as easily do it with a stack of business cards. Or probably Hallmark cards.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:06 AM
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Hallmark cards would be fun: take a saccharine sentiment and try to think of some twisted way it applies to a non-Hallmark moment...!
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:28 PM
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actually... the tarot (the major arcana) could be used to great effect here, for a character/plot outline... I'd just use the majors though, as "archetypes", Jungian-style...
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:50 PM
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Been done. Several times.
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