Thursday, September 30, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Nine of Wands

This is a complicated card. Here's this beat up figure who is bravely--or stubbornly--holding his ground, guarding the wands behind him. Is he wisely preparing for the next attack? Or is he overly defensive, getting himself psyched up to confront a blow that will never come?

Wands are worth guarding. They represent the element of fire, which stands for our courage, our energy, our ambition, our creative spark and our chutzpah. Those are all postitive traits--but all dangerous ones if we misuse them.

Personally, I think this guy has anger issues. That description works for one of my new characters: Scott Edmund. Anger issues fit in well with someone who has aspects of the Emperor: Scott is definitely the leader/authority figure type, but he's also ruthless and too quick to take offense. Now I just have to delve into his past and figure out why he's so damn touchy . . .

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: The Page of Pentacles

Pentacles correspond to Clubs in the modern deck of playing cards: they represent the element earth. (According to some traditions, reality is, mythically speaking, composed of four elements: fire, earth, air and water.) Earth represents--well, earthiness. You know: practicality, pragmatism, wealth, security, artisanship. Pentacles imply all of these.

The page represents a young man or woman--in this case, I'm going with a man. So we have a level-headed but inexperienced young man who's practical and, in all likelihood, a good number cruncher. Perhaps he's fresh out of grad school with a degree in Economics.

Ok, his name will be Ross Edmund. I'm going to make him the younger son of Stephen Edmund for my Roxburg stories. He can clash with both his father and his older brother as he vies for his own position in the family business.

Two Characters fit the bill . . .

Yesterday, I drew The Emperor. I have two new characters in mind who both reflect aspects of that card--a father and son team, in fact, that will be joining my Roxburg stories: Stephen and Scott Edmund. With two such strong, controlling personalities, there should be plenty of tension between them . . .

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: The Emperor

I've studied the Tarot for a while now--I think the cards are a marvelous aid to creative writing. So I've decided to start drawing a card at random each day for inspiration.

I'm using the Universal Waite Tarot Deck. Ok--I have lots of issues with Waite's deck, but it's the closest thing to a standard, so I'm sticking with it.

The Emperor is part of the twenty-two cards that make up the Major Arcana; these cards are also known as 'trumps.' They speak to the big issues in our characters' lives; while the cards of the Minor Arcana speak more to everyday issues.

To me, The Emperor is a benevolent authority figure who estabishes boundaries, gives you rules to follow and expects instant and, generally, unquestioning obedience. Basically a Dom Extraordinaire. On White Collar, Peter Burke has a bit of The Emperor in him in: he sets boundaries for Neal and tries to keep the kid out of trouble. But, unlike The Emperor, Peter has learned to be flexible.

So for me, The Emperor represents a character in authority who doesn't have that kind of flexibility yet. He (or she--I'm all for gender-bending with the Tarot) knows how to keep order and wants the best for everyone in his domain. Unfortunately, he also wants to control every aspect of their lives. His intentions are good, and he usually knows what's best for the people under his thumb, but he's too rigid, controlling and uncompromising.

Hmmm. I have plenty of stories in mind with room for just such a character . . .

Universal Waite Tarot Deck **ISBN: 9780880794961**

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development

Kohlberg's theory of the stages of moral development gave me a lot to chew on. I saw the link to this article on Alexandra Sokoloff's blog--she claims a knowledge of Kohlberg's theory is indispensable to writers. She has a point; I can see how this theory can heighten our understanding of our characters. Especially the characters who, for whatever reason, never develop past a certain stage . . .

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Stark Reminder of 9-11: Springsteen's "Empty Sky"

I live near the skyline (on the Jersey side), so I see that empty sky every day. I don't think it will ever look right to me again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?

On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed:

How many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who shall live and who shall die; who will die at his appointed time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.

But repentance, prayer, and deeds of loving kindness can alter the severity of the decree!"

~From the Unetanneh Tokef, part of the traditional Rosh HaShanah liturgy

Rosh HaShanah services pack a punch. They're full of hope and wishes for a sweet new year on one hand, but a stark reminder of our mortality on the other. Add challenging passages from the Torah to the mix and you have the recipe for a powerful experience.

The services got me thinking about my issues with Judaism and G-d, about how the heck I'm supposed to carry out "deeds of loving kindness," and about recommitting myself to my writing. I don't have forever, after all. Life is fragile.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fresh Carrots

Since the plot bunnies for my new urban fantasy stories aren't cooperating, I've decided to check up on some old bunnies. I've been ignoring them for a while, so they're probably starving for attention. I suspect they'll respond well to fresh carrots.

Huh. No wonder all those books on writing advise you to keep every story idea you've had and every scrap of a story you've written on hand! Never can tell when you'll need to fall back on them . . .

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Re-Introduction: Ready for Arkham

Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane
 If you've visited this site before, you'll notice a little change in title: yes, this blog is now named after the Arkham Asylum. And, yeah, that's Cillian Murphy playing my favorite inmate--Jonathan Crane--in Batman Begins. I love that straight-jacket screen cap.  It represents how I feel about my writing at the moment: it's driving me crazy.

It's going to get better, right? A few days of frustration don't mean the plot bunnies won't start biting soon, right? RIGHT?!


Ok, no more outbursts. I don't want to scare the plot bunnies away.