Can’t start a story. Don’t have any ideas. Or got writer’s block. Here is a method that will help. Use the Tarot. Select the Rider-Waite Deck. It is the most popular and the one that many other tarot decks refer to with their symbols. For interpretation: A copy of Eden Gray’s A Complete Guide to the Tarot.
Remember that there are a number of ways to interpret the cards. Be free with your interpretation. Go with the first thing that comes to mind.
Step One: Protagonist.
Start with the Protagonist. Draw two cards. One will be a Court Card. This is for the Character’s Physical Appearance. The second card will be from the Major Arcana. This will tell you the identity of the Character.
Example: Court Card is the King of Swords. Character is male. Red haired. At least, in his early forties. He is successful. Could be a lawyer, a judge, a general, a professor. Some sort of intellectual. Because the Swords represent Air, Intelligence.
Major Arcana card. The Hanged Man. He is always sacrificing himself for others. Putting other people first.
Step Two: Situation.
Now for the Situation that the Protagonist finds himself in at the beginning. Draw three cards.
Example: First draw: King of Swords. A major decision must be made. Possibly a law suit.
Second draw: 2 of Swords. Tension in relationships.
Third draw: 2 of Cups. The beginning of a love affair.
Interpretation (you the writer will decide what this means). My interpretation is that this man is trying to decide whether he will get a divorce so that he can be with the woman he has been having an affair. Either way there will be consequences.
Step Three: Setting
Draw one card for the setting. Six of swords. The Protagonist and his wife and child are on a boat.
Step Four: Plot
If a Short Story:
Do a Celtic Cross. Each position is described in Eden Gray’s book.
If a Novel:
Do four Celtic Crosses: One for Act One, one for Act Two Part One, one for Act Two Part Two, and one for Act Three.
When you have completed this exercise, you should have a complete plot for your story, your novel, your play or your screenplay.
Fascinating ideas. Images in a tarot deck can be so inspiring. You say you’re not a teacher, where did you learn this technique? Love this post.
I use a variety of methodologies for prompts. I used to do a lot of readings for myself and my friends. Then one day I realized that this could be useful for story building. This has been affirmed by a book called Tarot for Writers.
Thank you for letting me know about the book. I am inspired by this prompt. Thanks
Now I know what I’ll be asking for for my birthday in January. I’ve not been at a loss for ideas (yet), but the day will likely come and I want to be armed when it does.
This is amazing, thank you! I have used tarot cards off and on a long time and have recently taken up with consulting them again regularly. I never thought to use them for my writing and this is precisely the connection I needed to make as I’ve been struggling with the problem of getting started on something longer. What a strange coincidence! I have enjoyed your other posts on writing as well. They are very clear and get right to the point. You must be a teacher? Thanks again.
Not a teacher. Just like sharing.