So I brought out the Tarot and tried to ignore the bad karaoke filtering through my patio window. I decided to work with different spreads to get some insight on THUMB and my characters, but none of the example spreads in the Tarot book looked right for that, and I couldn't remember the spreads I had used in the past for writing topics. As I was hunting through the Tarot book, though, a single sentence caught my eye: "...you can design a spread yourself to answer a specific question." My thwarted creative energies found a new outlet, and I went to work on some ideas.
The best spread I came up with was the Character Arc. I arranged six cards in an arc (think in terms of tracing a rounded capital M and stopping at the midpoint), and I placed a seventh under the curve of the arc. Each card in the arc represented the classic steps in a story arc:
- Inciting Incident
- Turning Point
- Dark Moment
The seventh card represented the theme of the arc or the character's goal or the character's defining quality. Essentially, Card 7 served as the basis of the question I was asking. A unifier of my choosing.
This was a very helpful spread in organizing the thoughts I had already structured in this fashion in my vague pre-plotting, and it also highlighted commonalities that my subconscious had been noticing but hadn't been cluing the rest of my brain about. I don't think I could use this spread (or really any Tarot reading, now that I think about it) to attempt to force an outline on a story before I start writing it, but I can use this to keep my left and right brains communicating a bit better throughout the writing process. And that's remarkably helpful.