Tag Archives: tarot

News and vignette

I got up late today and procrastinated with various forms of social media. I always flip through them before starting a writing day, but I lingered long enough to know I was goofing off. I still managed about 2800 words of The Yak Guy Project.

Yak Guy is the one where I’m trying to use the Major Arcana of the tarot as my story structure. I’ve had to meld some characters, and take a few out of order. Several things go on at once, and it doesn’t make sense to take them one at a time. For instance, the Empress character is also one of The Lovers. This overlaps the training of the Heirophont. I already had some of The Lovers, so I kind of moved faster on this section. It’s time for Strength, The Hermit, and the Wheel of Fortune. I may take some of these out of order, because it makes more sense to my story. I kind of want The Hanged Man before the Wheel. Right now I need to dwell on it some.

In other news, I woke up with a character and setting again. I don’t particularly want to dwell on her for weeks, and sometimes writing a vignette will get them out of my head. Here goes nothing, and remember I’m free writing this one:

Barbi Baronski awoke with a ringing in her ears. It was dark and dusty, and every muscle in her body ached. She stretched and her hands touched concrete overhead.

She’d driven into the city to model a new line of fitness wear, but couldn’t remember if she was going to the shoot or driving home. Daylight was visible if she looked along the ground above her head. She tried to rollover and crawl, but it was too tight in here. She slid along on her back using a kind of frog kick with her legs.

The ringing faded a bit, and Siri’s voice asked, “What can I help you with? What can I help you… What can I… What?, What?, What?…” Barbi kept sliding. Her back became a slow motion road rash of cuts and dirt.

Fresh air seemed like a wonderful thought, but it was dust, smoke, and grime. The sky above was brilliant blue, but there were no contrails, birds, or even trees. She pulled herself out of the rubble and sat upright.

The remains of her tattered top fell on her lap. Her $200 jeans were mostly threads, but clung together by some miracle. The entire world was silent except for the ringing in her ears. She covered herself with her right arm and stood up tentatively. There was nobody around. The place looked like a gravel pit, except for a twisted streetlight that snaked through the rubble.

She always drove home on 76, and thought she recognized some of its outline. Thank God her trainers survived. She walked for miles through the rubble. Pieces of automobiles dotted the landscape, and tiny bits of building foundations started appearing. The farther she walked, the more the rubble started to look like something. She stopped covering herself, because nobody was around at all.

By mid afternoon, her stomach reminded her that she was starving. She spotted a few walls and veered off her path to investigate. It turned out to be a family restaurant of some kind. A shard of mirror showed her that nearly six inches of her brunette hair had been singed away. A copper pipe produced a small blue flame at the end. The gas lines were still on out here.

She dug through the rubble and found a single can of refried beans, a tiny frying pan, and a bent chef’s knife. She used the heel of the knife to chop the can open enough to get it in the pan, then held it over the open flame until it smelled edible.

She kicked through the rubble and turned over a small table. A piece of concrete served as a chair. She managed to bend the tines of an old fork into a relatively useful position and ate in silence. Hardly health food, but it was food and that’s all that mattered now.

Across from her on a piece of remaining wall were three huge frames. Two were missing everything, but the third one appeared to be the dinner menu. It read:

  • Meatloaf $6
  • Prime Rib $13
  • Rack of Ribs $11
  • Sides…

The rest was torn away and it appeared to be cloth of some kind. Threads dangled in the breeze. She finished her beans, and used the bent knife to cut away most of her fancy jeans. $200 custom cutoffs? She split the pants legs and used some electrical wire to make them into a purse of sorts. She placed the pan and the old fork inside.

 

A rock smashed the remaining glass from the menu and she removed the cloth, cut a hole for her head and used more wire to stitch the sides closed. She looked down at her new shirt which now read:

 

Prime

Rack

 

Barbi tucked the bent knife into her belt and headed into the setting sun. Home was important, but if it wasn’t there any longer, she would head west until she found a new place to call home.

 

***

I have no idea what caused the disaster, aliens, war, the refried bean festival. I also have no intention of finishing Barbi’s story, but something may come to me in the future. These vignettes are a way of retiring some of the ideas I get. Sometimes it works, and sometimes I have to revisit them even years later.

There was more too it, like a dried up river, and talking to a snake. The snake represented an ancient survivor, and Barbi drew a parallel to herself as a survivor. I figured the post was long enough, and maybe Barbi could go on her adventure without me.

How about it you writers? Do you ever wake up having been visited by the muse? Do you make notes, forget about it, start another project? I can’t write all of mine. Barbi could be a good character, she’s obviously strong. Maybe she can be a side character one day, or maybe her story will come to me later.

It appears my muse is getting back into shape. Back to the paycheck job tomorrow.

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Wednesday efforts, robots, sirens, the works

I wanted to make it out to the writing cabin once more before going on vacation. The puppy saw to it that I got a good early start.

I found Lisa doing her nails in the front office. “What are you doing? I told you I was coming today.”

“I expected you later. I have a show to do tomorrow, and need to look my best.”

“It's a radio show.”

“I don't care. I do my best work when I feel confident. What's our plan today?”

“No plan, really. It's summertime, and I only want to keep the projects moving forward. I'll grab coffee and be in my office.”

I struggled with ideas for Halloween themed stories. For some reason, my Muse (Lorelei) hasn't been sending me much stuff along those lines. I finally gave up and started making a pass through The Yak Guy Project. I haven't done much with it, and wanted to get back in the swing. I need to completely rewrite one character to avoid him resembling the other characters. Anyway, my idea was to study the previous characters.

This story is based loosely around The Fool's Journey, from the major arcana of the tarot deck. The character I want to repair is the heirophont character. Yak Guy Ted (the fool) meets a lot of mentors along his journey. I have too many of them sounding like Miyagi.

It's probably poor planning, because at 50,000 words, there was no way I was going to get completely through it today. Then there was the idea of going on vacation for ten days.

I surrendered and went back to short stories. I wrote two of them. Word count came in at about 2700. They are too big to call micro-fiction, but too short for my determination of a short story at 5000. Whatever, I wrote 2700 new words, and one of them might deserve to be a little bit longer.

These are stories for my baseball project, called The Enhanced League. This is proving to be a challenge, because there is a lot of world building going on. Each story is supposed to stand alone, but support a longer book of short stories. This means my normal twist endings don't apply in every story. Like I said, a challenge. Actually writing them helps me with the clarity.

Does anyone out there still enjoy a tale with gobs of world building? They used to be pretty popular.

I looked up and stroked my beard. “Lisa, do you know where Wiki is hanging out these days?”

Lisa came into my office all in a flurry. “Don't even think about it. You remember how mad Lorelei got when you hung out with the Sirens.”

“It isn't like Lorelei's been around a lot lately. Probably hanging out at some Olympic beach party, or getting ready to go to the actual Olympics. Now answer my question.”

Lisa's eyelids fluttered ever so slightly as she checked the tracking data. “Wiki is hanging out at a coffee shop about thirty miles away.”

“Is she alone? She's more dangerous with her sisters.”

“She's alone, for now.”

“Pull the old Land Rover around. You can provide security.”

***

We found little hipster Wiki in the coffee shop hiding behind a huge mug and her iPad mini. She wore a long tee-shirt with a skull pattern over black leggings, with army boots. She had a cluster of colored string friendship bracelets on one arm, and two watches on the other. I have to admit, she looked adorable, but all of the Sirens do.

Wiki jumped up and squealed. “Hi you guys. What brings you here?”

“We're looking for you,” I said.

Lisa simply crossed her arms, lifted her chin, and said, “Wiki.”

I turned to Lisa, “Are the others nearby?”

“No.”

“Wiki, I want to do some baseball research. Stuff like bullpen carts, city populations, pitch velocity, left handed catchers, all kinds of stuff.”

“Easy- peasy.” She typed on her iPad and showed me an image of the Mr. Met bullpen cart. “This kind of stuff?”

“Exactly that kind of stuff. When did they quit using them?”

Wiki made a few more keyboard strokes. “Looks like the last one was a Harley Davidson with sidecar, in 1995.” She made a few more keystrokes. “Check out this kitty on one of those Roomba vacuum cleaners.” She wrinkled her nose in that adorable way she has.

Lisa slipped her hand inside her purse and stepped forward. “I don't think so.”

“Can't blame a girl for trying,” Wiki said.

I grabbed a large Americano while Lisa stood guard. Wiki found me stuff on PEDs, ways to throw the curveball, how domed stadiums can move the grass outside for natural sunlight, and much more. I thanked her, and she hugged me with Lisa looking on like a prison guard.

We left, and I waited until we pulled away from the curb, before asking Lisa, “Is your gun in that purse?”

“Yup, sure is. The Research Sirens are supposed to trap you in an endless research loop. They wreck careers on the cliffs of cute kitty videos.”

“But she's only one.”

“Right, but she's a Siren and knows how to flirt with you. Thank God I captured Libraria's and Consultia's cellphone data when they came to the cabin. Now I can track them. All three of them could be deadly.”

“You aren't going to tell Lorelei, are you?”

“Heck no. We're friends and all, but you're my employer. This is like confidential business data.”

***

There are several new followers at Entertaining Stories. This tale involves quite a few recurring characters, and it's easier to explain this way than with a simple asterisk and footnote.

Lorelei is an actual Greek Muse who sends me an endless stream of ideas. They aren't always what I'm looking for, and a Halloween idea or two would be appreciated.

Wiki is one of the Research Sirens. She is the youngest, and more internet based than her sisters. The sirens are dangerous, but one at a time they aren't quite so bad.

Libraria and Consultia are the other Research Sirens, and you can guess what their individual focus is. They are mentioned, but do not appear in this story.

Lisa is my robotic personal assistant, and the official spokesmodel for my writing career. For more of Lisa, come back tomorrow for another episode of Lisa Burton Radio. Apparently, she'll have cute nails, but I have no idea how you'll see them over the radio.

Special aside: Lisa is always looking for more characters to appear on Lisa Burton Radio. If you'd like one of your characters to appear, drop me a note.

***

The Enhanced League is going to be science fiction of the near future variety. It has no deadline and will be a collection of short stories and micro-fiction. I wrote one about the umpires, and another one called Banned in Salt Lake City today. SLC is known for doing this on occasion, most famously with Olivia Newton John's song, Physical. The stories need some work, but they exist now.

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Making progress today

I don't want to take anything away from my guest post today. Make sure you visit today's radio spot and check out City of Hope and Ruin. She's been tearing it up today, so make her feel welcome. I wanted to post on my staycation progress.

I made a screaming tour through Blogland and social media this morning while the coffee brewed. Then I started in on projects.

I cobbled together the next Lisa Burton Radio post and sent it for final approval. Haven't heard anything back, but there is still time. It's likely to be scheduled for next week.

I managed to write seven pages of The Yak Guy project. Honestly, I wanted and expected more. I guess I'm out of shape mentally. The next phase of his growth is about to begin, and I don't like writing the transitions. The new players are just about to enter the story now, in fact one of them has been seen but not introduced yet. It's a decent place to stop, because I'm excited to get back to it now. Besides, I get to beat the crap out of him next. Fun fun fun. Last section he got to have sex with his dream girl, now he gets to meet her father.

In keeping with my Tarot personal challenge, her father is The Emperor the other guy represents The Hierophant. I'll probably minimize The Emperor and spend a little more time on The Hierophant. Readings never expect to give full weight to every single card. Later on, I'll have to minimize The Hermit too. Nobody wants to read five chapters of Ted pondering the meaning of life.

I worked through the critiques I received on The Yak Guy project. The group all seemed to like it, but they said some cautionary things, and it feels like good advice. Yak Guy Ted is being put in a lot of uncomfortable situations and is forced to evolve. This is good, but it's also passive. I need to get Ted driving the action. He's just about ready, and has to a degree. It's a really good caution though, and I may have to address it in rewrites. I still want it to follow the Major Arcana, and The Fool can't be a mover and shaker until he's ready.

I also managed to get Jason Fogg out of trouble in his new short story. I still have to figure out what he's going to do to the bad guys, but I'm in no rush here. I don't try to set deadlines for my short stuff. The only issue is several other characters who want their short stories to get written. I refuse to start them until I finish this one.

I wasn't the best blog buddy today. A few months ago I created a list I called “must reads.” These are the people who I really enjoy, and 99% of them visit Entertaining Stories and interact. I actually follow over a thousand blogs. I like surfing the headlines and reading the stuff that jumps out at me. If I want to get anything done, I limit myself to the list. That's the kind of day today was.

Tomorrow I want to rough out the next-next Lisa Burton Radio interview and send it out. I need to move The Yak Guy ahead, and will to some degree. I may even finish with Jason Fogg, but it isn't required.

I really wanted to watch The Diamondbacks play tonight, but the damned thing is only on a channel I don't pay for. Greinke vs Cueto too.

I'll probably return to the novel I'm reading instead. I need to get on with that too.

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All’s well that ends well

I had sourdough bread for breakfast this morning. It came out really good, and I even managed a great blister crust this time. I also gave the dog his medicine before tearing into my project list.

I managed the 20,000 words I wanted on The Yak Guy project. I may have forced it, but I wanted the word count. I managed names for the warring factions, but when I googled them I wanted to change them. I managed a letter or two of change and they work for now.

Yak guy is finished with the third character in the book, and it's time for him to join civilization once more. To do this he needs a name, but cannot remember his. Think of this like a portal fantasy. It isn't, but it gets the point across. He lost memories during the process.

The yak told him these people are named for their professions like Merchant, or Tanner. The rest have short simple names. Since yak guy doesn't have a profession, he decided his name would be Ted. It works for now, and everything is subject to change.

I managed to finish my critiques for tomorrow night's meeting. This will probably keep me from posting tomorrow, since our meetings usually run late.

The short story isn't finished either, but it's very close. I never got to that final character pass on The Playground. Quite frankly, I ran out of creative fuel.

There will be other characters in the Yak Guy project, but the next main one is The Empress in the tarot deck. In my deck she is The Lady, and that's what I'm going with. This means I have research ahead of me. This character is going to be important, and I need to have her lessons in place along with her use in the story.

My wife is home now, and it's time to think about the work week ahead. It was a great weekend of writing, but the real world beckons.

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Acceptable amount of progress

Lisa* and I spent the day with Yak Guy. I have to admit, she spent most of her time with the yak. She has this thing for animals, and this one talks.

Yak Guy isn't quite as spoiled and entitled as he once was, but he has a long way to go. I even got him to the point where he shows a bit of the hero he may become. He revealed a minor bit of heart, but not a great amount.

He's at the point where he can meet a new character in the story. They just have to make a treacherous journey over snowy mountains. He has no coat, poor shoes, and no clue what's going on. His life is in the yak's hands, (hooves). He will grow and learn.

I'm excited and terrified by this story at the same time. I can handle a bit of adventure, and excitement. This is going to include some spiritual growth, and I hope I'm up for it. I may need a real editor by next fall.

I'm alternating between things going too fast, and not fast enough. I'm at 8600 words, and I've already blasted through total commitment, (he had no choice) and taking action where he had to be heroic. On the other hand, there has been a lot of traveling and camping.

This section is all about learning to take care of his basic needs. Imagine a spoiled city kid, who leeches off of his friends, being suddenly thrust into life in the wilderness. He needs to know some things, and I'm trying to show his growth this way. I honestly don't know if people will find it boring, or get the idea that he's growing through small lessons.

Many of the characters will represent major arcana cards in the fool's journey. Obviously, Yak Guy is The Fool. The Yak serves as The Magician. It's the yak's job to teach a work ethic to Yak Guy. I intend to have the yak around throughout the story, but we'll see where it goes.

The next character will be the High Priestess, although it may be a priest when I write it. After those lessons, Yak Guy will be ready to be around people again. I think I'll have him make a major decision at that point to signal the end of Act One. I'll check the word count at that point, and get an idea how long this story will turn out.

We'll see how it goes, but I'm writing it. I haven't left the outline behind yet, it's just a long way between the mile markers.

Lisa saddled up the yak, and led him out the garage doors from the basement. She led him to the front door, and we watched Yak Guy ride off into the snow. I have a fair idea who he is now, and what he's all about.

*Lisa Burton is my robotic assistant. She's also the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories.

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Choosing my next novel.

Company drove away this morning. We’re going to be getting the camper ready for the next few days, and I feel the need to get something accomplished. This one is just a choice and a commitment, but I’ve struggled mightily to get here. I decided today is the day, because I can strike something off my task list before vacation starts.

Lisa* pulled the decrepit old Land Rover to the front of the writing cabin. She wore a sleeveless mini-dress in a jaguar print. She put her hair up in the victory rolls she so often wears.

I climbed in beside her and we headed for the beach. We parked by a large outrigger canoe. I crawled in front while she pushed us into the water. The sky was cloudless and the blue tropical water helped ease the tension of my pending decision. I let a hand dangle in the water, until some kind of serpent rolled off to our left.

“How come I’m the only one paddling?” Lisa asked.

“Because you have the strength of ten men. You’re better than an outboard motor.”

The island wasn’t far, and the swaying palm trees were already visible. Lisa headed us toward the sandy beach.

“Better blow that conch shell, so they know to gather,” I said.

“Robot girls don’t have lungs, remember. You’ll just have to blow it yourself.”

I brushed my mustache aside to make a good contact, took a deep breath, and blew. The huge seashell made a mighty blaat. I smacked my lips. “Tastes kind of fishy. Maybe we’d better run it through the dishwasher when we get back.”

Lisa beached our canoe and we left the beach on a rocky trail.

“I told them we’d all meet near the Moai statues,” she said.

“Near that handsome one?”

“Yeah, your favorite one.”

We took our places behind a table, all decked out with a grass skirt and tropical drinks in porcelain coconut shells. The contestants wandered in and took up places.

I slid the microphone in front of me and took a sip of my drink. “All of you have worked very hard this summer. Everyone has points that make a good novel. You all have something that works as my personal challenge. Unfortunately, everyone has weak spots too. Many of these cannot be addressed until I’m in the first draft phase.”

Lisa said, “Wargler and Grinder, please step forward.”

One group, dressed in large hats with rapiers and flintlock pistols stepped forward. They had a small hairy fellow with them, that reminded me of a goat, with a dagger. Another group consisted of an older male cop and his young female partner. They had some gothic looking guy beside them, followed by a white rat and a large muskrat.

I slid the microphone in front of me. “Wargler, you have a lot going for you. I love fantasy, and the slightly different setting appeals to me. Plumed hats and flintlocks seems like it would be fun to write. You have a fun personal challenge in making someone who starts wars for profit into a character people can cheer for.

“This story must have a ton of deception and unreliability to work. This is also going to be fun to write, but it takes a lot of time to come up with. I have some good ideas, but not enough yet. It’s also going to be challenging to write it in such a way as to be fun, and not annoying.”

I turned my attention to the next group. “Grinder. I have so much hope for this story. I’ve been dying to get back to science fiction, and this tale really appeals to me. A detailed theft using surgically altered animals, would be fun to write. The dirty underside of a slightly futuristic city really appeals to me. The message of letting bio-hacking get out of control is also appealing.

“On the down side, you need more plot. Your bad guy is super smart, and the cops are inept. This isn’t bad, but somehow the cops have to deliver the conclusion. I have more cool ideas than plot right now. I can’t write between the cool ideas and call it a novel.”

Lisa leaned toward the microphone. “Grinder and Wargler, I’m sorry, you will not be the next C. S. Boyack novel. Please return to your camps and develop your plots.”

One of the Wargler characters slammed his cavalier hat on the ground. The muskrat from Grinder stood on her hind legs and spread her arms wide in a begging position. Eventually, they all shuffled off toward their camps.

“African Adventure and Yak Guy, please step forward.” Lisa steepled her fingers and sat back.

A beautiful blonde in safari gear and a pith helmet stepped forward with a young man wearing a western vest and brand new safari style hat. They were joined by a young man who appeared to be wearing second hand clothes, accompanied by a large black yak.

I needed another sip of my drink. “African Adventure, your outline is more developed than any other. You have almost everything going for you. There are so many antagonists, or antagonistic forces, that this will be an absolute thrill ride. The young American geologist who comes to Africa under false pretenses.–

The man snapped around to look at the woman, who bit her lip.

“The young woman who is trying to accomplish something in the 1890s. Women are not held in high regard, and she must manipulate the system somehow. There is even a witch doctor who controls some very dangerous animals. The Boer War, the Matabele uprising, man-eating animals, fire, and Africa herself have a lot to offer. The Boer woman’s name is Kimberlite, not Kimberly. That alone ought to tell folks why he’s a geologist, and what her secret plan involves. You are the only character among all the outlines with a name today.

“I like the personal challenge of turning this into a romance. I won’t write it as the primary force, but more as background. While Grinder and Wargler are ‘save the princess’ stories, this one is more along the lines of, ‘you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.’

“There is a downside, and it’s a big one. It involves Internet trolls. The whole hubbub over Cecil the lion has me concerned. There is no way I’m going to write about the African bush in the 1890s and not include hunting. For an author who is lucky to get a dozen reviews, one or two people with an agenda could be a disaster. There is also the fact that this would be my third paranormal story in a row.”

I turned and faced the Yak Guy. “Your story is so strange, I don’t completely know what to do with it. It’s the tale of a young man with ‘failure to launch’ syndrome.”

Yak Guy spread his hands and sneered. The yak said, “I agree. He needs to grow up.”

I paused until they got the idea that I was talking. “I like the idea of using the major arcana of the tarot and telling the fool’s journey. It’s a wonderful personal challenge. I may have to combine some characters, and not go all the way through, but it sounds like fun. Your outline is also quite far along.

“On the downside, what the heck do I categorize it as? I’ve already made that mistake with my book of short stories. It seems like Amazon has a category that is like spiritual fantasy, and maybe that would work. The whole thing has a Purgatory flavor to it.”

I looked down and took a long sip of my drink. Lisa reached over and took my hand for support. I scribbled a note and slid it to her.

Lisa stood, wiggled side to side as she adjusted her dress, and addressed the remaining contestants. “You’ve both worked harder than the other contestants. Your outlines are more complete, and that’s why you’re in the final round. Each of you has the chops to carry a novel, and you probably both will someday. Today there can only be one winner. I’m sorry African Adventure, please return to your camp and work on your plot.”

She turned to Yak Guy. “Congratulations Yak Guy, you will be the next C. S. Boyack novel. Please pack your things and head for the dock. I’ll send a boat, and a, I don’t know, a horse trailer to bring you ashore. You have a couple of months to get to the writing cabin and begin your draft.”

We crossed from the island to where we left the Land Rover in silence. The view had lost all its charm, and I stared at my boots. When Lisa beached the canoe, I looked up and saw Doubt, the Raven perched on the car hood. I nodded towards him, “Of course he would show up.”

Lisa said, “There is no right or wrong answer. You always second guess yourself. You just have to commit and make it work.”

We got in the vehicle. Lisa tugged her dress down and said, “Live with your choice and give it 100%. The other stories will still be on the island for the next time.”

“I suppose so. Doubt just plays with my mind sometimes. After I get the book of shorties published, and The Playground ready for advance readers, I need to dedicate myself to Yak Guy’s outline.”

“And maybe give him a better title?”

“Yeah, that too.”

*Lisa is my robotic assistant. She has a short story of her own coming out in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack this September. She is the official spokes model for this blog, and you can get a set of Lisa Burton paper dolls by clicking on “Look, Free Stuff” at the top of the page.

Note: This idea grew from a vignette sent to me by my Muse. I posted it here last year. Those of you so inclined can read about it here.

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The Fool’s Journey, Part Five

These titles are starting to sound like the sections in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. I did it to keep the posts in order.

This is where the journey ends. These last cards in the Major Arcana can also help with stories, but not usually the kind I write. I call the blog Entertaining Stories for a reason. I’m more about blowing crap up than ascending to a higher plane. This doesn’t mean there aren’t some good stories in this area, and you might be writing one right now.

Just in case someone finds this a year from now and wants to see the others, here are the links:

  1. Let’s go on the Fool’s Journey.
  2. The Fool’s Journey, Part Two.
  3. The Fool’s Journey, Part Three.
  4. The Fool’s Journey, Part Four.
Our fool has become a pretty mature fellow at this point. In my mind, the last three cards are reserved for tales of absolution. I remember reading Siddhartha in high school, at gun point. Those are the kind of tales we’ve moved into.
 
I’m not saying they’re bad, mind you. I just didn’t see any phasers, katana, or dwarves in them.
 
image
 
The next phase of the journey is called the sun. Words to describe the sun are: wonder, contentment, happiness, vitality, and innocence.
 
The sun is usually represented as a child on a white horse riding with the radiant sun at his back, while carrying a red flag. My Celtic deck is close. I wouldn’t exactly call this horse white, and the kid has a red harp. If you get the idea of rejuvenation and a fresh start, that’s the main point.
 
In my mind he isn’t quite there. The fool is still traveling. This is the point where the confusion of the moon clears and the fool moves forward.
 
I suppose it could be that moment in The Natural when Roy Hobbs wakes up in the maternity ward. His best girl is there with him, and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do. The instant he decides to play one last baseball game is The Sun.
 
image
 
The next card is called Judgment. I don’t know why my deck chose to go with Rebirth, but there you have it. The standard card has an angel blowing a trumpet while people rise up from graves. My card has a trumpeter and the child emerging from a crypt.
 
This card symbolizes the St. Peter moment before the pearly gates. It’s the resurrection story. Our fool is something new now. Words to describe this card are: Judgment, rebirth, absolution, redemption, salvation, and renewal.
 
The old fool is gone. This new fool has excellent judgment and is ready for whatever comes next.
 
I don’t read, or watch, a lot of highbrow stuff. The example that works for me is Bruce Wayne giving up the billionaire playboy and Stately Wayne Manor in favor of the bat cave. Bruce Wayne becomes a character played occasionally by Batman. Batman is something new, he works for a greater good. (Okay, maybe that was a lame example.)
 
image
 
The World marks the end of the journey. This card is represented as a young nude, usually an amalgamation of male and female. This symbolizes mastery over those traits that are considered either male or female. The work ethic of the magician and the imagination of the high priestess. The nude is surrounded by four distinct items. Sometimes they represent the elements, sometimes the major zodiac constellations, in this case the four tarot suits. The symbols denote mastery over all these distinct items.
 
The fool is perfect now. Words associated with the world are: fulfillment, success, mastery, and accomplishment.
 
As an example, the best I can come up with is Peter Sellers walking on water in the ending scene of Being There.
 
I know my examples are lame, folks. This end of the deck is a little more high brow than where I prefer to spend my time.
 
***
 
Assessment:
 
As a plot structure, I think The Fool’s Journey works. There are others out there that might be better.
 
The first half dozen or so cards are useful for developing a character and giving him an environment to operate in. There are several wonderful opportunities to knock him on his ass and give him something to overcome.
 
For me, The Fool’s Journey starts too soon and ends too late for a novel. I can see where many novels will fit within a narrower version of these cards though.
 
Many times, I find inspiration in art. There are bits and pieces from this deck in some of my stories.
 
As a writer, I’m just as likely to snitch a piece of my story from fairy tale structure, add a bit of the hero’s journey, knead it into a three act format, and sprinkle with a dash of tarot cards. I bake it all up at an imaginary place I call the writing cabin.
 
You have to do what works for you. It never hurts to have another tool in your kit.

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The Fool’s Journey, Part Four

These are the links to the other posts in this sequence:

  1. Let’s Go on the Fool’s Journey
  2. The Fool’s Journey, Part Two
  3. The Fool’s Journey, Part Three
Our fool has come a long ways. He’s conquered his own phobias, and recognized his shortcomings. The last stop on his journey he learned about Temperance.
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The next stop on the fool’s journey is The Devil. Again, my deck took some liberty at this point. He is most commonly presented on a throne, with a couple chained beneath him. His right hand is usually raised, and his left is lower with a torch in it.I still buy that the couple in my Cernunnos card is under his dominion. I’ll accept the background light as a substitute for his torch.

This devil isn’t the actual devil. He’s a representation of another internal lesson for the fool. This devil stands for happy indulgence. The couple could get up and leave, but they’re so entranced by the immediacy of their situation they don’t even notice The Devil. Words associated with this card are: Materialism, stagnation, obsession, anger, temptation, and doubt.

Since I’ve stuck to movies for examples, I’ll keep with the theme. I think Fatal Attraction has many elements of this stage of the journey. Selfish indulgence led to some severe problems.

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The Tower represents a sudden and dramatic change in the fool’s life. It is usually represented like the card in my deck. Lightening strikes a powerful fortress, and the occupants are hurtled into the sea. There is occasionally a crown falling that symbolizes the fall of someone important. This card has occasionally been represented as Adam and Eve being expelled from the garden.

Our fool is struck by disaster. His complacency and love of material things has drawn the wrath of God. Words associated with The Tower are: release, revelation, sudden change, chaos, hard times, and impact.

There were a whole series of Irwin Allen disaster movies. These usually involved a catastrophe and a bunch of privileged people. I also think Chevy Chase was trying desperately to preserve his “tower” in all those Vacation movies.

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The Star represents the moment the fool understands he doesn’t need all that stuff. Life is more than a tower full of finery. It is represented by a person stripped bare under a starry sky. The fool understands he has everything he needs within himself. It is an important point that water is being put back, not taken away. The fool starts to give of himself to others.

Words associated with The Star are: generosity, inspiration, calm, good will, flowing love.

I see the end of Casablanca as having traits of The Star. Rick gives up his beloved cafe, and the woman he loves to serve a greater good. In fact Casablanca is a good movie to represent The Devil, The Tower, and The Star.

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The Moon is another cautionary card. The joy and tranquility of The Star lead to imaginative dreaming. He may be ready for another adventure. The Fool knows that his sharing and caring might not be well received everywhere. He’s apprehensive.

The standard involves a dog and a wolf howling at the moon, which is framed with two pillars. There is usually a crayfish coming out of the water. My deck has a crab. There is a new path into the unknown. In my mind, the wolf and dog represent different sides of the fool. The experts say the crayfish represents that unpredictable part of the personality that lives deep down below everything else.

Words associated with The Moon are: fantasy, doubt, tension, illusion, fear, the unknown.

To me, this is an educated fool about to take a new journey into the unknown. He knows enough to be apprehensive, unlike the fool at the beginning, and his doubts might prevent him from taking the journey at all. Maybe he’ll rebuild his former life, maybe he won’t.

There must be a hundred stories based around this event, but only one comes to mind. It was a book, and at least two movies, The Razor’s Edge.

This could also be the point in Yoda’s life where he doesn’t train Jedi any longer. Then again, maybe one last time.

This is our stopping off point tonight. I have a hankering for some good whiskey.

Writers will see that many potential novels could be born and ended in the cards we’ve already presented. Most modern stories have ended by this point. There is still a bit of room for some good stories, and we’ll get to those next time.

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The Fool’s Journey, Part Three

Today, I’m continuing with the fool’s journey. Those of you who want to catch up can do so here:

  1. Let’s go on The Fool’s Journey.
  2. The Fool’s Journey, Part Two.
When we left our fool, he’d become a hermit. He went to a cave, a man cave, or on vacation to sort some things out. He understands that everything he’s done up to this point brought him to this point. He knows there are consequences for his actions as well as rewards. He is successful at his pondering, but he can’t leave until he realizes one more thing.
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The Wheel of Fortune teaches our fool that he cannot control everything. He influences the world he lives in, but sometimes the world influences back. For a writer, this can be an actual occurence, but in the fool’s journey it’s more like a realization.

The Wheel brings famine, volcanoes, acts of God, and other things to bear. The fool has to do the best he can under these circumstances. It can also bring benefits, like promotions, winning the lottery, or choosing the right horse in the Derby.

Words associated with the Wheel are; harvest, inevitability, prosperity, destiny, fate, change, and particularly sudden change.

This card varies more than any other from deck to deck. There aren’t really any standards to point out.

To go back to an earlier example, Sheriff Brody was living as a hermit. He never asked for a killer shark to invade his new life and threaten his solitude.

I suppose there is a story somewhere that could end with the realization that the Wheel brings. I’m pretty sure several started right here though. For some reason, I’m stuck on movies during this post. The ones that come to mind are Dante’s Peak and Twister. The main characters were involved in their own versions of hermitage, and life changed the course of events for them.

Our fool leaves his hermitage, and wanders once more. He is pondering this newfound knowledge and realizes one more thing.

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The fool ponders his new knowledge until he realizes that he must take responsibility for his own actions. The Justice card reminds him that he is where is based upon his actions. Justice tells him to make amends for those actions where it is appropriate. Justice also reminds him that when he makes decisions from now on, he needs to remember the affect his decisions have on others.

Words associated with the Justice card are realism, reality, fairness, objectivity, analysis, criticism, and responsibility. Justice is usually depicted with a sword and a scale. I like the fact that my card also includes an owl.

For writers, will your main character learn from Justice and improve, or will he return to the older and easier way of the Chariot. I never watched the show, but I loved the idea behind it. In Breaking Bad, a chemistry teacher becomes a meth cooker. I see the failure of the Justice card at work.

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The fool comes across The Hanged Man, and is shocked by what he sees. He’s saddened even. He discovers that the hanged man isn’t dead. His legs form a cross, and he’s upside down. The fool thinks about his own life being turned upside down. The hanged man is bound and gagged, much like the fool has been.

This is the fool facing his deepest fear, his failure to obtain the one thing he wants most in life. The fool realizes that he is the hanged man. He’s no longer sad, he is simply suspended. The fool understands that he must let go of some things to obtain others.

Words associated with The Hanged Man are; sacrifice, letting go, surrender, and acceptance.

The only constant symbol among decks is the image of a cross somewhere. I like the fact that mine has apples in it. They represent knowledge to me, and that says a lot about this part of the fool’s journey.

This point represents what I like to think of as “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”. It’s that moment of realization. In many stories the main character symbolically burns his house, or blows up his mine before leaving to do what has to be done.

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You knew it was coming, right? All good main characters must face death. Most of the time, it’s a spiritual thing, but there have been some pretty good stories where actual death was on the line.

Death represents a change. Our fool is going to cast aside childish things to grow as a man. (Or woman. It’s your story to plug your characters into.) Maybe he sells his drag racer, the one that brought him fame and street credit as a young man. He uses the money to make a downpayment on a house for his wife and children. The old fool dies, and a newer and better fool emerges.

Death is usually a skeletal figure on horseback with a sickle. He is trampling a king under his horse’s hooves. My deck is different, but the sickle is still there. Terms associated with the Death card are; Precursor to change, making way for the new, regeneration, out with the old and in with the new.

Think of The Hanged Man and Death like a butterfly’s cocoon. It feels like the end, but it’s really the beginning of something better.

Billionaire playboy Tony Stark is captured by terrorists and shoved in a cave. Life as he knows it is over. Iron Man emerges from the cave, and Tony’s life is better as a result. This isn’t just Tony’s escape, it’s a complete transformation.

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The next stop on the fool’s journey is Temperance. Once again, my deck took some artistic license, but I like the Fferyllt anyway. I used the hagstones in her rafters in one of my stories.

This lesson is all about balance, temperance, equilibrium, even bringing together opposites to create balance. This would be a good point in a story to create the team. People with different skills come together to make something better than the sum of its parts.

This is a good point to remind writers that everything in tarot has a double meaning. If you’re writing about the bad guy, this could be about imbalance, and tearing things apart. Anakin/Darth Vader comes to mind.

I hope everyone’s enjoying this look at the fool’s journey. I see this lasting about 3 more posts, and there’s more interesting stuff ahead.

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The Fool’s Journey, Part 2

When we left the fool, he’d learned a bit about imagination and planning. He learned about his personal work ethic. We met his parents, and he’s been loved and nurtured. The world is fertile, but he hasn’t experienced it yet. You can read part one here: Let’s go on the Fool’s Journey.

We have a main character, but he’s a bit boring right now. Breaking this into sections has been tough. We’re still developing our fool, but the next card stands for a bit more.

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The next character on the hero’s journey is an important one. In most decks he’s called the hierophant. In many, he’s the Pope. In a few decks, like mine, he’s the high priest. I’m not thrilled with my card. The hierophant usually has his first two fingers toward heaven, and the next two toward earth. In my deck he still has two fingers each direction, but he seems to want to be in a metal band, or to attend the University of Texas.

In most decks he’s bestowing a blessing, or initiation on a couple of newbies. For some reason this didn’t happen here.

This is an important card for a writer. It stands for education, structure, rules, initiation, and belonging, routine, and counsel. The fool has been walking around on a blank page until now.

This part of the story could involve the priesthood, a knighthood, a position in the starting lineup, or a street gang. The fool’s journey paints with a broad brush. It’s the writer’s job to fill in the details. Your fool could be a loner, but there are still rules in his society. Maybe he’s fleeing from a posse, who has rules and structure.

I think the movie Animal House was all about this card.

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The next step on the fool’s journey is that he wants something. All main characters should want something. The lovers has definite sexual and relationship overtones, but that’s not all it’s about. Love, fulfillment, choice, and surrender are the idea here. This card represents growth in the fool. He’s been kind of self centered and selfish up to this point.

If you’re writing a romance, this might be the end of your tale. On the other hand, your romance might want to go through some trials and troubles. Maybe your fool got on the starting lineup, but now he’s becoming part of the team. Maybe he loves his new job.

As an example, the movie American Pie ended once the characters got what they wanted.

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The chariot represents accomplishment. Our fool has used everything he’s learned up to this point and moved up in the world. He learned from all the previous stops along his journey; school, imagination, work ethic, friends, and lovers. This is also an egotistical card. This card stands for travel, triumph, success, ego, and fame.

I think the chariot and the lovers can be reversed if the story calls for it. Sleepless in Seattle anyone?

I like the idea that there’s a white horse and a black horse. It reminds me of Plato’s representation of a chariot and driver as the whole man. Here’s a link to a two part breakdown.

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The main character gets beaten down in our stories. There’s an old line about, “what do you get when you don’t get what you wanted? Character.” The fool gains strength. This character is all about courage, strength, compassion, self control, kindness, and gentleness.

Strength is depicted as a woman with a lion, and she’s dominant over the lion. In my deck she’s with a boar. Her sword is cast aside, because it’s not needed. She is the master and the boar knows it.

A main character at this point may have overcome an enemy, but is gracious and mature in victory. The fool is capable of building up after having torn down. For some reason, I see the last three cards at play in An Officer and a Gentleman.

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It’s time for our fool to look within; to reflect and ponder the meaning of life. The hermit demonstrates this time in the fool’s life. He stands for solitude, reclusion, introspection, and thought.

Our fool has seen good people fail, and evil triumph in his life. He wonders what it’s all about. I don’t think this needs to be a big section of your novel, but it can be a useful one when you need it. Examples where the hermit plays a major roll include the book/movie Jaws. Sheriff Brody fled the city with his family. He just wanted a safe place with a little solitude. Clint Eastwood played the hermit in Gran Torino. Niether of these characters lasted long as hermits, life came calling. These stories started at this point.

We’ll stop here tonight. We managed to flesh out the fool as a character, educate him, give him a desire, and a bit of personality. He even has some bad traits, like an ego. He’s a more interesting fellow than we left him.

These cards can represent other characters in your stories, or situations only. Some novels will start somewhere in this section, others may end in this section.

What do you think of the fool’s journey as a kind of story structure? We’ve gone through ten of twenty two stops so far. I promise to cover the rest as the month plays out.

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