by Patricia Simpson - 2011
Authors often get caught in a rut of character and plot. It’s natural. There are certain themes and character types that live in an author’s psyche. Some writers can base every story on the same type of hero and write wonderful books. More often than not, however, the same old theme and character grows stale for the author as well as her readers.
After writing numerous books and realizing that I often used the same theme and plot, I decided to open myself up to a different way of writing a story. To mix it up, I used Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey as a guide, with each step in the journey defined by the draw of a tarot card.
At this point, all I knew about
my story was the following:
Title: The Last Oracle
Hero: Max, a rich adventurer like Richard Branson
Heroine: Amara, an oracle who has escaped her master
Theme: Freedom without love is no life at all. (A theme is very important!)
Tagline: She wants to experience free love. He knows nothing in life is free.
There are many different decks of tarot cards with images ranging from serious and frightening to lighthearted and whimsical. Choose the deck that suits the mood, genre and/or setting of your book. The novel I was developing was the third book in The Forbidden Tarot series. This series contains Egyptian history and motifs, so I used an Egyptian-inspired tarot deck, called the Ibis Tarot. The images on the tarot cards not only fired the plot, they also sparked my imagination with colors, mood, and mysterious objects that I might not otherwise have thought to include in my book.
Since the hero was in the forefront of my thoughts when developing the story, I used him as the subject of my tarot reading. In the actual writing of the book, my POV (point of view) character was primarily Amara, the Oracle of Avaris. But the plot I developed during the reading could still be used, as the hero’s issues and journey deeply affected both hero and heroine.
Listed below are the first few steps of the classic Hero’s Journey and how I applied the tarot cards to each step. Click this link for all the steps of the journey and a form you can fill out for your own reading.
Part I: Departure
1. The Call to Adventure
Part II: Initiation…
Part III: The Return…
To my surprise, the finished version of the book did not stray much from the initial structure provided by the Hero’s Journey and the tarot cards. The journey gave me a good framework for the book and the cards provided new ideas and approaches, as well as a fresh character type for a heroine I don’t generally write—that of an “Earth Mother” type. She was a refreshing change for me, and I hope for my readers.
I would definitely use this tactic again.
Patricia Simpson is an award-winning author of paranormal romance. Find The Last Oracle and the rest of the books in The Forbidden Tarot series at http://www.patriciasimpson.com
© 2011 Patricia Simpson. Illustration from the Ibis Tarot © Josef Machynka.