Halloween, NaNo, Tarot and Vamps

First, I apologize for what will be the rather hurried nature of this post. Due to some unforeseen and rather unpleasant personal thingies in October, I got behind with my writing projects. Two projects that were supposed to be all done by today are overlapping into the first week of November.

And, as we all know, not only is today Halloween (yeah!), and not only do we have to turn our clocks back one hour tonight (extra hour of sleep!), but for us doing NaNo, today is our last day to finish whatever preparations we are doing so that we can start writing like mad tomorrow.

So, to make a long story short, I’m also behind on the blog posts I had planned to do prior to the start of NaNo.

I had promised to talk about my Tarot and Fiction workshop. I had wanted to post a more detailed report of that but as I’m hoping to do this workshop again in the near future, I will save that longer, more detailed piece for another time.

So, here’s a brief recap of the workshop.

First, I advised the participants to get a copy of Corrine Kenner’s book Tarot for Writers

This is an excellent book to have if you’re really interested in using the tarot for writing.

In the workshop, I emphasized the fact that I see the Tarot as more of a brainstorming and writer’s block busting tool than anything else. I don’t use the Tarot every time I sit down to write. Most of the time I come up with the story ideas, characters and plots on my own but when I’m stuck, out come the tarot cards.

As a matter of fact, I’m currently stuck on a scene in my current WIP and when I’m done here I’m going to pull out my cards and see if I can get unstuck.

The reason I think the tarot works so well is that I think our minds get stuck in ruts and our thoughts run along the same grooves. And we need to get pushed out of those ruts. But it’s hard to do because most of us (definitely me) are not creative geniuses.

We can, of course, brainstorm off of others but sometimes that’s not feasible. Everybody, as we know, is so busy these days.

So, my suggestion? Pull out your tarot deck. Lay out a spread or just pull a card. You can do this randomly or you can look through the deck and pick a card that gets a response out of you.

That’s what we did in the workshop. I had all the participants pick a genre to write in. I did this because I wanted them to keep that genre in mind when using the cards. That would help them keep the meaning of the cards or whatever they picked up from the cards in context.

Since some of the participants did not have cards, I passed out some from my collection. At first I thought it was a good idea to have people use cards that were similar to their genre. For example, a woman was writing a Regency. Someone had brought the Jane Austen Tarot so I gave that deck to her.

However, in retrospect, I don’t think that was a good idea. The woman admitted that she didn’t really come up with anything but plots and ideas she had already written. That made me think that, perhaps, it would have been better for her to have used a different type of deck. Something so far removed from the world of Regency that it would have done what I wanted the tarot to do for her. Think outside the box.

For example, this card is from the Housewives Tarot, which uses images from the late 50’s and early 60’s for the Tarot. It’s kind of a tarot deck for fans of the Mad Men television series.

In the workshop, we used our tarot decks to brainstorm characters and then plots. I encouraged the participants not to worry about what the meanings of the cards were. I did pass out a cheat sheet for their use, but I asked them to first look at the card, think about or write down what they saw in the card, and then see how they could apply that to their story.

Here’s a quick example of what I came up with. I pulled the Nine of Cups for my protagonist. My genre was mainstream fiction.

Here’s what I wrote. My protagonist is a dark-haired man, wealthy and self-complacent. He believes he has achieved all that he has dreamed of. He owns a successful furniture company. He’s overweight but believes it’s a sign of his worldly success. His wife, however, urges him constantly to lose weight. He blithely ignores her, indulging in rich food, fine wines and other sensual delights.

Okay, so that was my protagonist based on that card. For the antagonist I drew the Wheel of Fortune. I wrote this.

The antagonist is Fate. Suddenly our hero loses everything! His business, his health, his wife. Like Job in the Bible, he finds himself tested everywhere he turns. He must ride the Wheel of Fortune downward as he struggles to reinvent himself and his life.

Now, this is all rough draft stuff. I would definitely work and revise and rewrite all this as I made my way through my WIP.

For example, I would definitely make my antagonist a real person, someone who symbolizes what Fate has done to my protagonist because stories work best, IMHO, when the antagonist is a person (or an alien or a vampire). Someone the protagonist can actively engage with.

Your interpretations of the cards can be literal or metaphorical. It all depends on what works best for you.

I mentioned in the workshop that when using the cards for writing, the only meaning that mattered was what the participants came up with. The interpretations in books can be helpful and I encouraged them to make use of those, but I wanted them to also try and come up with their own meanings first. Based, most importantly, on what genre they were writing in and, specifically, on what their particular writing problem was.

I, for example, need to come up with something nasty and horrible for my villain to do to my heroine. I will take out my trusty tarot deck and see what I can come up with.

Okay, vamps. I finally saw Let the Right One In. Great movie. Highly recommend it. Best vampire movie I’ve seen in a long time. It was done in a way that played around with the standard vampire tropes but put them in a context that allowed you to see those tropes in a different way. It’s also, believe it or not, a rather sweet love story. It’s bloody and gory, so a heads up on that, but I enjoyed it and my son, who as a rule does not like vampire anything, was impressed with it and judged it a really good vampire movie. And that’s saying something! Coming from him. 🙂

NaNo. Not really done with prepping but NaNo starts tomorrow so gotta run with it. Hope those who are participating are ready to get going tomorrow. Start your writing engines!

Okay, I really, really, really got to get to my writing! I feel time just ticking away. I don’t know how much blogging I will be doing in November but I’ll try to stop by when I can.

November is going to be crazy! But fun crazy. I hope. 🙂


7 Responses to Halloween, NaNo, Tarot and Vamps

  1. BigWords88 says:

    I don’t remember the reason why there was a deck of playing cards made from comic-book characters five or six years ago, but I’m sure it was featured in Comics International or Wizard. The big name I remember seeing was Dave Gibbons, but this is all beside the point… Anyway, a few years ago I saw a tarot deck with a bunch of underground characters (Fat Freddy’s Cat, Fritz, bits culled from Tijuana Bibles etc.) but it was probably a pirate edition rather than being licensed. Funny as hell.

    I haven’t seen Let The Right One In yet, but it is on the list of films I’ll buy as soon as November is out of the way. I’ve been meaning to see it, but things have kept on getting in the way.

  2. jennareynolds says:

    Is this the deck you’re thinking of?


    There are a lot of privately printed tarot decks out there. Especially some of the more risqué ones.

    This website is a great place to get info on tarot decks.


    I also want to see this New Zealand vampire movie called Perfect Creatures and one from South Korea called Thirst.

    Looks like some of the best vampire movies are coming from non-American filmmakers. Let the Right One In is from Sweden

  3. BigWords88 says:

    That wasn’t the one I was thinking of, but I did find a deck I haven’t seen – a Milo Manara deck. After the giant hardbacks I bought last year I thought I was up to date with everything out there, but no…

  4. Digital Dame says:

    I’ve been meaning to see Let the Right One In, too, I’ve heard nothing but good about it.

    I’m still hoping for a miracle that I can get my hands on the Bohemian Gothic Tarot. None of the “vampire” themed decks that are out do anything for me.

    Rock on, Happy NaNo’ing!

  5. jennareynolds says:

    BigWords88: I’ve heard of that deck. I do have a few erotic decks which I use for my erotic writing, but I also have a wide range of tarot decks, and I do try to mix them up so I may use a very light-hearted deck for a dark paranormal story.

    Digital Dame: It’s a really good movie.

    I can’t imagine that they’re not going to reprint that deck at some point. It’s very popular!

  6. Thanks for mentioning my book, Jenna! Good luck with NaNo!

  7. jennareynolds says:

    Thanks, Corrine! And thanks for writing Tarot for Writers. It’s been very helpful for my writing and tarot readings. 🙂

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