The purpose of this blog is to demonstrate how MuseMancing–the art of reading a regular deck of playing cards for the purpose of brainstorming & creativity– can be used for ideas and inspiration for creatives and specifically for writers.
This post covers a basic, step by step process of how to use the cards for story ideas and what the main keywords are for each card.
I‘m going to share one of my favorite idea generating processes with you. The great thing about this is that the ideas are limitless and you are actually going into the process after having asked YOUR imagination for ideas.
This process taps into YOUR ideas, hiding in your sub-conscious.
Step one is to inquire within, to ask YOURSELF for an idea.
If you have a great relationship with your Muse, then we can say ask your muse. (But only if you see your Muse as always available and eager to help you–a post in and of itself!)
When we find ourselves blank on ideas, it can be due to a variety of reasons, but typically, it’s that we are so caught up in something else, or daily busy-ness that our imagination can’t get through to us.
The ideas are all around us, and within us, but we often don’t hear them because our heads are elsewhere and very full of day to day “stuff”
Allow the Answers:
Asking with the intention of allowing the answer is very important.
Set aside some time, ask for the ideas to come forward and use this process to let your Muse do her/his thing.
A Deck of cards:
Get out a deck of playing cards. Yes, you know, the ones at the bottom of the drawer, that might only come out during the holidays?
Make sure it’s a deck you like. The tactile and visual response you get from them is important in opening up your desire for answers.
I have a deck that is pretty old, has a gorgeous Laura Ashley image on one side and has brought me countless hours of relaxing fun playing canasta. I love how they feel in my hands.
State what you need:
What do you need ideas on?
Is it characters? Plot? Scene ideas (as in whats next?)
Determine that first. Write that down on some paper. “I need ideas for__________.”
For the sake of this post. we’ll, say you need it all. A blank canvas with no idea of any sort.
For a basic draw, we have four categories, so we need four cards-
3) Villain or opposition
After you have settled into a relaxed place and have asked and set an intention to allow YOUR ideas to come through, shuffle the deck thinking about writing a great story. Get excited. Feel the creative juices waking from their slumber.
Now, pick four cards in any way you feel comfortable. Either cut the deck and pull four off the top, or fan the cards and pick four that feel right to you.
I’m going to pick my four now:
1) Five of hearts
3) Nine of Diamonds
4) Two of Diamonds
Wow! All red! (if you do this often, you’ll start to see a pattern, I tend to always pick red cards which fits me as I like writing about relationships and emotions.)
Listed below is the basic associative words to go with each card in a deck as well as each suit.
I am only listing one word here for the sake of simplicity and so you can take this in YOUR direction with what you associate with each word.
Take the main word and start free associating, allowing yourself to run with whatever pops into your head.
List of each card and it’s corresponding word:
Ace (1) – Confidence
2 – Cooperation
5 – Discipline/Freedom
6 – Acceptance
7 – Intuition
8 – Power
9 – Integrity
10 – Success
Joker – Clever/Trickster
Jack – Dynamic /Youth
Queen – Sensitive Authority
King – Ambition
Next, we have the two colors, Red and Black
Red: mix in the idea of action, passion, aggression
Black: mix in the idea of: mystery, inner, mystical, or evil (or shadow)
Hearts – Emotions/relationships
Diamonds – Material/Possessions
Clubs – Intelligence/Rational
Spades – Industrious
The next step is determining your genre, so you can see each card in light of the genre.
I tend to write paranormal, so I’m going to use that as my guide.
With these basic words/concepts, lets look at the cards I drew:
My first card is my Hero- a five of hearts.
My first thought is a military guy who is seeking love…I’m going to keep going with what pops into my head….he grew up in a very disciplined, lots of rules and not much love home (which is why he went into the military) but really, he is a very sensitive guy and is seeking freedom from the strict world of rules and regulations.
In going further, I can even now “see” what this guy looks like: a five is a guy who has taken care of his body(discipline) maybe a gymnast, so he is lean and strong, not too tall.
The red says to me he is a Fire sign (astrologically) I see a Leo. Now I have a sense of his personality.
He is medium height, with very short hair, a light color, either a sandy blond or a light brown and even though he hates fighting, if you threaten him, watch out, he knows how to defend himself. He has soft, kind green eyes.
But, he also has some scars, emotionally and physically from a very mean demanding father.
I can see his wants, conflicts and needs already.
Now, let’s look at the heroine- a Joker…ohhhh…this is getting good!
With the Joker, we have a Trickster or someone who might be one thing, but is another, or one who plays many roles or just someone who is conniving.
With the Joker, go all out…get crazy creative.
So, my heroine knows how to turn on the charm, is attractive and can ac’ the role, but is she for real? Her wants aren’t for her betterment, no, she has other agenda. She is full of flaws.
So, right off, I see great conflict:-my hero is a good guy who wants to leave the world of rules (so he is drawn to her rebellious nature) but he has good heart and is seeking love.
She is a rule breaker, but, really, she just wants lots of attention..
Next is a villain or an opposing force in the story- the Nine of diamonds.
Now, depending on the genre you pick, you can use this card in a number of ways.
For my genre (paranormal) and because it ‘s looking like a romance, I’m going to use this card to create my villain.
So, my hero and heroine, even though they have conflicting ideals, fall in love. The Villain ( or opposition) is the Nine of Diamonds-
So, Nine of Diamonds.
We have the word integrity….add in the diamond….materialism….I’m going to free associate with this….millionaire philanthropist…..charity work…..a philanthropist woman who uses all of her money for charity. But, she is the villain, so she is the jealous type that although she does charity work, her intentions are on controlling things and what she wants, she gets and she wants HIM.
(This is the opposite of Integrity-play with the words and go in different directions with them.)
Using the Two of Diamonds, I can add to the premise-
Again, big money is involved and Two is Cooperation….now, start running with some “What If…”
What if my hero gets out of the military and is seeking a position in which he can show compassion and tend to his sensitive side. He gets a job working for the organization of the millionaire villain.
What if my heroine is the niece of the millionaire woman and has to go work at her organization to “do some time” after a stint of shoplifting out of sheer boredom.
So, now we have these three working together.
What if the Villain is really a Vampire Queen? (Hiding behind her good deeds)
What if my hero was a Vampire Hunter in the military?
What if the heroine is sick of her powerless humanism and wants to become a vampire?
The ideas are limitless and if at any point, you find yourself in a direction that feels off, go back and re-do your word associations.
Now, you have character ideas.
What if you have some characters and need a plot idea?
Let’s give each card a “plot” theme to use.
Plot Ideas for each card:
Ace - Maturation- A plot about growing up- an optimistic plot where the Protag has lessons to learn, but becomes a better person from them.
Two - Love – A plot about Boy Meets Girl But….(the ‘But” is what keeps them apart.)
Also, can be a Rivalry-pinning one against the other.
Three- Discovery- A plot of discovering the true SELF of a Protag. It Answers, “Who Am I ?” or “Why Am I Here ?”
Four- Quest – A plot that is a search for a person, place or thing. A step by step process to obtain something.
Five – Escape – A plot about the mechanics of a physical escape to freedom from something.
Six - Sacrifice- a plot about the protag having to sacrifice a belief, ideal or way of life in order to grow and change.
Seven – The Riddle – A plot of solving a mystery- a physical plot of who, what, when, where, and why that must be resolved.
Eight – Wretched Excess- a plot about a character driven to extremes.
Nine- Temptation- a plot about a character that examines motives, impulses, needs and choices.
Ten - The Underdog – A protag against the antag, but the strengths aren’t equally matched. The Protag is at a disadvantage and faced with overwhelming odds.
Jack – Adventure- an action plot of going off somewhere to experience something new.
Queen- Transformation- a plot that examines the process of life and it’s effect on people. The Protag makes big changes as they journey through one of the many stages of life.
King – Rise and Fall – Rags to Riches or a Fall from Grace.
Joker – Forbidden- this can be anything that goes against the conventions of society and is forbidden.
Take each of these and add in the color (Red or Black) and the meaning of the suit to add more to the main idea.
Example: Drawing for just a plot idea, I drew the six of hearts : a sacrifice plot (interestingly, this is the theme of my current novel) and it’s a heart card.
A sacrifice for love? Sacrificing the life one knows to seek ones true passion in life? How about giving up a child so that child can have a better life-what does that do to the Protag? How about the child?
Jot down all the ideas that pop into your head when doing this. Don’t limit yourself. This is only meant to jump start or bring to surface what is already there within YOU.
You can create questions any way you like. For more details include: Goal, Motivation, Setting, Object.