Friday, June 8, 2012

An Unusual Method to Find Motivation

I'm one of those authors whose characters talk to them. I know it sounds strange and visions of men in white coats coming for me with an "I love me" jacket (i.e. straight jacket) may be dancing through your heads, but it's true -- when I'm working on a story I hear the conversations and visualize the scenes as they're viewed by my characters.

But I've been having problems with a character and his lady love. I know that he's a dominant and that he likes whips. I know his family background, his business, and that he's been interested in his particular lady for several years, but never approached her because he's never seen an interest in her to explore his lifestyle. I have a lot, but know I haven't gotten the whole story from him that I need.

For my heroine, I know similar things -- background, family, business, etc. Not that she hasn't been tight-lipped, she has, the issue is, their book is her hero's story, not hers, so if she goes quiet I don't get so freaked out. At least not yet.

I've tried starting the book four different ways and, although each of those beginnings could work, they just aren't it. When I read Anneke's post from Tuesday, I started thinking...it's not necessarily the story I need to understand, it's the motivations of my character. I'd had another friend tied up on the phone for five hours earlier this week discussing this particular character's behavior, but it hadn't quite gelled in my head.

So, I did something new -- for me.

I did a tarot card spread for my character. (And no the spread below isn't his spread -- I just laid this out so you could have a visual of what I did)

Standard Celtic Cross spread using The Dragon Tarot
(The Dragon Tarot, Copyright  1996 US Games Systems, Inc.)

It was very enlightening.

I'm not an expert at the cards and I don't claim any special abilities, but I do know that for me my characters are real enough to touch and when they need guidance taking the time to go through a reading can shed some light on their situation. Not only for them, but for me as well.

What I learned from my character's spread was that the story progression was pretty spot on with what had been running through my mind, but that I hadn't taken his motivation deep enough. He hadn't -- and I hadn't -- internalized what drove him, what blocked his path forward, and what was necessary to drive him to his eventual outcome. After reading the spread I could see where the stumbling blocks were.

Interestingly enough, I could also see I hadn't recognized just how strong a dominant this character was. Much stronger than I had ever thought.

If you're wondering if my heroine showed up in his spread -- she did. As did the villain.




12 comments:

  1. OH. MY. GOD. Qwillia you are brilliant! I would never have thought of using Tarot in this way, so awesome!

    Thank You for the idea!

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  2. You're welcome, Se. It was interesting to see how much of the character was in the reading ... including the King of Pentacles (the perfect significator for the hero).
    Q

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  3. What a brilliant idea Q! As you say it's easy to have a list of character "trappings" as such, but getting inside their heads and heart is the secret. You've nailed it! I might have to try it :-)

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    1. Thanks Maggie,
      Now to see if I can get the character talking again and get this book written.
      Q

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  4. Great idea, Qwillia. And here I've been using personality inventories. By the way, that wasn't Annabel on Tuesday, that was me. I know it's easy to get us mixed up.

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    1. Dang it! I'm sorry, I'm an idiot for not double checking before I post. I'll fix it now!!
      I've tried inventories, and they help a bit, but the reading really helped, especially since I've had a very hard time getting into this character's head.
      Q

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  5. This is such a fantastic idea! I've never thought about using the cards. Maybe this will help with my current wip.

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    1. It works best if you visualize your character as being with you and treat them like a real person. Phrase the question or request as if they'd asked it. You'd be amazed at the information you can get.
      Good luck, Sharyn, I hope it helps you.
      Q

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  6. I actually did an online course for tarot for writers a few years ago. I was never exactly sure what I was doing! Not intuitive when it comes to reading the cards. :(

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    1. Shelley, I have a wonderful book that helps interpret the cards and offers some great insight into the spread telling you how each card impacts the information and influences the answer to your question.
      It's by Eileen Connolly, and called Tarot: A New Handbook for the Apprentice. I'm hoping to work my way up to the Journeyman then the Master level.
      If you get the chance to get the book, it's a great resource.
      Q

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks, Krystal. It made for a very interesting exploration of my characters.

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