Story Forge Cards

I have writer Nat Russo to thank for guiding me towards this little gem of a writing tool.

Story Forge Cards are like Tarot for the writer; you can lay them out in a series of “spreads” in order to create a character back story or simply break a bout of writers’ block.

Following on from yesterday’s post My Writing Conundrums I sat down again this morning to get my teeth stuck into pesky chapter eleven and give it some much needed oomph.

I decided to use the Story Forge Cards for some guidance and to also justify the element I had already introduced. Using the Character Back Story spread I was very surprised when a lot of the cards I chose justified the direction I had chosen but also fitted in with my intended character’s story arc. I only needed to select some different cards to really flesh it out.

Story Forge Cards Character Back Story SpreadThe spread has helped me deduce that my character has a good relationship with his mother however, he is in denial about his true nature in order to try and live up to the expectations currently placed upon him. This presents me with a crossroads on how to develop his character as the story progresses.

I now feel a bit more hopeful that this character is not going to weaken the story as I have been fearing.

After this little success, I then decided to create my own spread. This one is called the Character Motivation Spread.

This spread is a little simpler. it works thus:

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Cards 1 & 2 – the character’s work

Card 3 – I pulled Youth on this one so decided it would be either the passage of time, character’s age or time in service

Cards 4 & 5 – How the character carries out his work and what is the motivation for that

Cards 6 & 7 – In what circumstances does the character work. Secretive? In a team?

Cards 8 & 9 – Who or what is the target and why

Cards 10 & 11 – Is there assistance along the way? Do they help or hinder?

Just messing about with these cards in a made up spread really helped me answer some of my own questions on one of my other characters for there is not much revealed about him to begin with and his motivations mean I can either keep him as something of an enigma or throw in some reveals throughout the story. Both paths, I hope; would make him an interesting person to read and be involved with.

For anyone stuck on their writing, if you haven’t come across Story Forge Cards yet I really do suggest you give them a try.

Grace x

Story Forge Cards

Nat Russo – Writer

Nat Russo – Twitter

My Writing Conundrums

The last couple of weeks have been rather taken up with work and preparing for my Amdram stint in Sherlock Holmes next week. Sadly, this has impacted on my writing time and I’ve not had many opportunities to get stuck in as it were. Plus, I’ve been rather politically vocal this week as anyone who follows me on Twitter is aware!

So, here I am at the start of a very well earned, long anticipated week off work; so I have decided to get back to doing some writing as well as updating my blog. Which I promised myself would be updated every week.

I am currently twelve chapters in with a word count of 27,244 which averages to 2,095 per chapter. By my reckoning, if I manage to complete the intended 30 chapters I want the book to be this should be around a 60,000 word novel. From what I’ve read in blogs etc., that doesn’t seem to be a bad length for a first effort. Ideally, I would like to finish around the 80,000 word mark.

My biggest conundrum has always been; what length should a chapter be? When I write a chapter that has manifested as a “movie” in my head I find the words flow very smoothly and the chapter literally writes itself to a natural end.

That’s all well and good but then, there are the chapters that don’t start life that way. Typically, these are the chapters centred around one particular character. When I read them back to myself, they seem a little dull and lacklustre but to do away with them would lose a lot of work.

Should I not worry about these chapters right now and come back to them later when perhaps I may be feeling more inspired? Or should I persevere and doggedly write them to completion, even if I’m not entirely satisfied with their outcome?

Sitting down this morning to write, I decided to revisit chapter eleven. It’s dull, there’s nothing exciting in it and it flounders at the 1,700 word count. I’ve written school essays longer than that!

I’ve added another 400 words to it and decided to give the focal character in this chapter a back story that reveals a struggle with sexuality resulting from a past event.

Then I berate myself, have I written in a gay back story purely to show that I am in some way, trying to represent the LGBT community with one of my characters? (Let’s face it, there isn’t much representation for the community in mainstream publishing.) Is it relevant to the overall plot or is it purely there to give a little insight into this character’s current dilemma and situation? I think time will tell on this one, as I have an overall plot to follow but the subplots have a tendency to spring themselves on me when I least expect it.

Books Books Books

One of the reasons I love writing is because I love reading and I want to be able to get all the fantasy residing in my head down onto paper and share it with the world. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a professional writer, I am not published and so far only have this blog and one short story to show for my efforts but that doesn’t stop me from pursuing this most rewarding of pastimes.

I say pastime because to do all the things I want to do, I am not yet in the position to be able to give up my 9-5 and live the life of an accomplished writer.

Books to me are like paintings to an art lover. They are objects of abject beauty and deep mystery. It is through the written word that we can explore life through the eyes of another from the comfort of our favourite squishy armchair. Is there anything better than sitting inside on a cold, wet day; cup of coffee in hand, a cat snoozing on the sofa next to you and some old black and white movie on in the background as you read your latest treasured novel? I absolutely love days like that!

I currently have four books on my bedside table. The Shepherd’s Crown by the late great Sir Terry Pratchett, Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, Game of Thrones by George RR Martin and The Rest of Us Just Live Here by the wonderful Patrick Ness. So many words, all the time in the world.

If I can ever come close to producing anything as good as the books on my bookshelves I will be a happy woman. I have those writers and so many more from childhood who have taught me so much and taken me to places that can only exist courtesy of an imagination so rich that to not go there would be to miss out on an exquisite experience.