20 September 2012

The Writer's Process: Intuition & Art

I have a number of "tools" I use to focus my energies on developing the plot and characters of a story arc.
Scrivener is one of them. I honestly don't know where I would be without it--no, that's a lie. I'd still be one clusterfuck of a disorganized writer who trembled in fear at the thought of forming an outline.
Not that I really "form" one in advance of writing. But I get a general concept in my head, and though it is often too ethereal to go down on paper or screen, it's there and Scrivener is great for creating a visual of the outline forming as I write. I am learning to see where I need to pick up the pace, and where I can spend some time drawing things out.

[Side note to any of my betas who are reading this (ahem, especially you, sis, since you dabble in tarot): please do not freak out or hyperventilate.]

One of my other tools is my tarot deck. No, they don't tell me what to write or anything like that. But the cards are, for me, a way of focusing, of bringing the subconscious into the conscious awareness. Of forcing myself to see what it is I'm thinking about, because a lot of the times the ideas are sitting there churning around in the back of my head and chasing them around with a ladle in the cauldron just isn't an efficient use of my time and efforts. It's also rather frustrating.
So to counter that, I do tarot spreads.
The first one I did for FF was about a week ago. I was trying to get a feel for the emotional journey that the main character, Z, would take through the course of the story. Z's elemental representation is quite obviously fire; it was almost from the moment I began forming this story. So to see the following had a strange effect on me, because I shuffled the cards. I always do. Three times, and then cut.

FF story spread: the emotional journey.
[This is a mirrored Celtic Cross variation that I use a great deal. It's what feels right to me, so I go with it. You'll probably notice unconventional names on the suits and major arcana; I'm not using a Rider-Waite deck. This is the Wildwood set, I've been using it for at least six months now. For the purposes of this post, I'm using the layout sketches from the FF notebook instead of actual card photos because it permits for labeling and is less distracting. The artwork on them is that gorgeous. Maybe another time.]

Green Man, Wood Ward, Forest Lovers, Sun of Life, 4 of Bows, and World Tree are all associated with fire. At any rate, heebie-jeebies aside, the highlighted positions in the layout are major arcana cards. They signify the powerful or substantive forces moving through the situation. There's a great deal going on in this spread that relates directly to aspects of the story that I've already touched upon or splashed the reader with, but I've not yet delved all the meanings and the interlacing in this one yet.

But the created world and its magical system are based on an five-element structure. S, the second main character, is metal. Although a five-pointed structure doesn't have a "true" polarity of opposition between its points, he is Z's grounding force, his polar opposite if you will--which in a four-cardinal system are characteristics of the element earth. Trying to keep it simple and not get too technical, so I'll just leave it at that. You get the picture though, right? So I was writing all this week based on this layout. The severe lack of counterpoint for the fire presence in the layout bothered me. For days. It's readily apparent, with Z as the POV character of the story, that the major arc of the emotional journey is his.

I decided yesterday that even though S won't be a POV character, it's going to be crucial to the healthy and balanced development of the story for me as the writer to understand the landscape of his influencing factors. I needed to get to know him. Beyond the plaited mohawk and stylish scalp brandings. So I did a layout just for S.

FF story layout: understanding S.
I got the heebie-jeebies all over again! Well, I guess I shouldn't. I mean, the cards are a tool and the tool is working efficiently, so I'm pleased. Slightly surprised as well, but very very pleased. The suit of Stones is the Wildwood's pentacles, which are representative of earth. So we have the 2 of Stones, the 10 of Stones, and the 8 of Stones, indicating points (defined by the positions) where S and his personal power have the greatest influence. The cards themselves speak to interesting aspects of his character. The Page of Stones down at the bottom was cut separately before the reading to represent an avatar for S. And that was where I glared at the cards and muttered, "well, duh." (Mind you, all the court cards are depicted as animals, not humans, so that isn't unusual.)

Also interesting to note is the King of Bows as the central force in the (1) position. Not only are Bows the fire suit, but the king is a court card, which means it signifies an individual. You get one guess who that'd be. This character influence is also echoed in Sun of Life, directly above the King, as well as the 8 of Bows and the Ace of Bows. The positions of these cards tells me a great deal about Z's influence on S, and the role he plays in the decisions S will be forced to make.

Finally, despite my shuffling and cutting, three cards echo between the two layouts: Sun of Life, 2 of Vessels, and 3 of Arrows. These must be forces and energies that have a substantial impact on both characters in the story.

I have yet to sit down and do a full interpretive reading on either one of these, though I fully intend to and it'll be included in the notebook. Just thought I'd share what's developed in the past week with a few brushstrokes though, for those that are interested.

And also... notebook pron. :)

Have an awesome weekend, see you next week!


Amara Devonte said...



ps: Want to see your new cards. :D

Rhi Etzweiler said...

@Amara I'll probably post some photos of spreads in the near future. The accuracy of these two makes me want to do a few more as the story and characters progress further. ...But it's kinda creepy?

Amara Devonte said...


Post a Comment

Anonymous commenting is enabled. However, I reserve the right to censor content that is not civil and respectful. Discussions are welcome and encouraged. Attacking is not.