AKA: I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year and I developed this spread to help it along. :)
In case you don’t know already, November is National Novel Writing Month. One of my favorite months of the year! It’s where writers from all over aim to write 50,000 words (or a complete draft) of a novel in 30 days.
There are usually two kinds of writers: planners and pantsers. Planners have the outline and character profiles all mapped out before November 1st drops. Pantsers don’t really plan at all–we fly by the seat of our pants. I’m a pantser. Planners often don’t understand us.
The reason I’m a pantser is because my stories often unfold with the characters as they show it to me. I could plan all I want, but if my characters decide to go their own route, then I have to follow. So it’s easier to just go with the flow of what wants to come out, rather than fighting with what I think should happen.
That being said, being a pantser is often hard because you don’t know where the story is going, and if you get stuck on that, it can be hard to make progress, and you’ll be staring at a blank page.
So what can a NaNoWriMo pantser do?
I developed a tarot spread just for this! (Though it may also help planners too!) This tarot spread looks at key things you must know about your novel to construct a full story arc, while also leaving plenty of room for creativity and character choices to take you different places within that arc.
For this spread, it’s good to have at least a semblance of an idea to focus on for the spread to flesh it out more.
Without further ado…
2 – 3
4 – 5 – 6
7 – 8
1 – Core Character
2 – Core Desire
3 – Core Conflict
4 & 5 – Key Plot Points to Hit to reach the…
6 – Core Resolution
7 & 8 – Points of Awareness for the Author this month (to be supported in writing, self-care practices, motivations, warnings, etc.)
And here is my own spread and interpretation so you can see it in action, to help your own story along.
What I loved about doing this reading for my novel was that it fleshed out parts of the characters and stories that I hadn’t thought of yet make complete sense for the story, to help drive it forward. Take a look!
1 – Core Character – 15 The Devil
This card was interesting for this. The story is about a twin brother and sister, Maddie and Ashton, so this imagery felt very telling. The sister is the core character, her facing the inside of the cave trying to pull the treasure chest deeper past the chains, while the brother is looking toward the exit, toward the light. This card tells me the sister, Maddie, has a very all-or-nothing mindset, very impulsive, has no concept of moderation, and has an unhealthy attachment to her brother and also to what she ultimately wants (next card). She dives into things with the short term outcome in mind, not the long game. Whereas her brother is trying to keep her out of trouble, but she gets in her own way.
2 – Core Desire – 4 of Wands
Maddie strongly desires to have it all. To feel supported, to have a safe home life, an eventual happy ending. She’s idealistic to a fault. Her love for her family and friends is probably her most redeeming quality. She wants to graduate college in spring and have everything fall into perfect order–have a job as a dancer or dance teacher (ehhh, we will see on that), find the perfect man, get married and have a supported family life. The job that her and her brother get roped into has the potential to pay off college loans so she can start well post-college.
3 – Core Conflict – 6 of Wands
However, Maddie wants too much notoriety for the task presented to her. She seeks shallow recognition and praise, though you can’t really get it for this work she’s been enlisted for. She thrives on outward shows of praise, but doesn’t get it, so she keeps going at the cost of everything else. Charging forward with no thought for anyone else, thinking she can go it alone, but she can’t. She’a stuck on her high horse–using her brother to get ahead if he’s identified as the white horse (see the Chariot below). She wants the notoriety, but the brother is wanting to stay more in the shadows in terms of recognition for this work. He’s the more valiant, honorable one–the one probably more deserving of such praise. Maddie’s self-importance and arrogance will strongly get in her way and make her lose what’s most important to her.
4 & 5 – Story points:
Page of Swords
For this story, Maddie and Ashton have a lot to learn for their particular task–they need to learn how to transplant their conscious selves into other dimensions/realms/planets as well as how to handle themselves in this vulnerable state. This story first came to me in a dream, and the imagery of the Page here is eerily like the field they were taught how to sword fight in. So I have to make sure to show the learning process they need to go through. Also, this card depicts leaping into action without much thought (ahem, Maddie). Learning the ropes, connecting with the mind and intellect in exploring these new worlds
7 The Chariot – Maddie is the black horse, Ashton is the white. That complete yin and yang energy is needed to do this work–there must be a tug between the two forces. Masculinity versus femininity, darkness versus light. Forward motion together in spite of it, but also getting in the way of their work. I also got the image of them getting lost in the stars, as a lesson for what happens if they don’t transplant themselves correctly. Also, there is a “gold” planet that they visit and this Chariot card brings it to mind. This is a Maddie taking control, moving ahead even if it’s not the best thing… but at what cost? She tells them she can handle more. This is the big mission, stepping into the big challenge.
6 – Core Resolution – 9 of Swords
Worst nightmare coming true for Maddie. This card shows her waking up and having a loss she wasn’t expecting. There ends up being a major threat against her and Ashton, that separates them, and it ends up tearing them apart. The guilt eats away at her for her actions and state of mind leading up to that point… However, this is not the end. There is time for her to make a change. (Funny this card showed up, since I know this story is a multi-book saga.)
7 & 8 – Points of Awareness for the Author
6 of Swords – This card indicates travel, and getting away. Getting away will be good, as a refresh of space and to connect with family to ground this story. There’s a note to avoid drama, but know that I’m not alone. My emotions may get muddled, but keep going despite ripples in the water. Perhaps unwilling travel… Due to some family illness in Utah, I wonder if my trip to visit my dad in Vegas will come with extra baggage or unexpected trip somehow.
4 of pentacles – Be stingy with my time and energy, but I don’t need to be a miser about it. My energy will be valuable this month, so I need to make sure it’s going to the right places. Be considervative with my spending. Don’t go overboard. Embrace what I have, be grateful to have material wealth at all. It’s okay to honor my time, commitments and boundaries this month… it will be needed to focus on writing and to make sure I take care of everything I need to.
And that’s that! I hope that helps you craft a plan or get to know your novel better for NaNoWriMo! It’s a hefty undertaking, but we can do it. Who’s in??
(Does this count as my word count for day 1? Technically it’s still for my novel… hehe.)