I spotted this tag at Faith Rivens’ blog not too long ago and absolutely knew I wanted to do it, too. It’s inspired by the Major Arcana, the first 22 cards in a tarot or oracle card deck.
Now, I’m aware that not everyone believes in the accuracy in tarot or other divination tools. But being a believer isn’t necessary here. The following questions take each card’s themes and applies them to your WIP or your writing process. So, this is a more “inclusive” tag than you might think. 😉
Any story-specific questions in this tag will focus on my WIP, The Keeper’s Curse. To learn more about this novel, you can either read the current draft of its blurb or visit the Chronicling The Craft series.
Also, make sure you check out the current “thank-you” giveaways if you haven’t yet! They’re open through midnight EST on Tuesday, May 3rd.
So, let’s see what the cards have in store!
The Author’s Oracle Questions
0. The Fool: Which of your characters is the most intuitive? The worst decision-maker?
Out of all of TKC’s characters, Eva (the protagonist) is the most intuitive. She’s great at “thinking on her feet” or reacting the right way in a crisis. As for who makes the worst decisions… definitely Drasten, the brother of Aurek Kolsteg. I haven’t had an opportunity for his solo Beautiful People post yet, but between Aurek’s character interview this past winter and the “siblings edition” BP post with Aurek, it’s obvious that Drasten’s a bit of a hothead. And yes, he gets in trouble because of it during TKC. 😉
I. The Magician: What character, location, or object has the most positive influence in your story?
Without giving away spoilers, Eva carries a heartstone (rose quartz) ring during TKC that’s crucial to both her character arc and the external plot. Her aunt Maji also has a positive influence on her, and is a wonderful mix of wisdom, calm, and generosity.
II . The High Priestess: Do any of your characters have very strong beliefs?
OH YAH. Vandar and Remi are both strict followers of the Council Code of Conduct and aren’t afraid to nitpick their fellow Councilors’ actions or behaviors for the Code’s sake. All of the Fei characters also follow a nature-centric religion and worship Tovana, their equivalent of Mother Nature.
III. The Empress: Who is your biggest supporter? Give them a little love here.
I can’t list one supporter! That wouldn’t be fair to the others. (*lol*) Here’s a quick list:
- My offline friends, who always push me (gently but firmly) to be the best writer I can be.
- My former writing professor Allan G. Hunter, who told me before I graduated from college, “You need to get your work published!”. (And I’ve been working on that ever since!)
- Everyone who follows me here at blog or on social media, for your interest and encouragement. It means the world to me. (*hugs*)
IV. The Emperor: Do you outline or plan? (You know… plotter or pantser?)
How about a plotser? I always start with an outline, but it’s more or less a high-level outline with major plot points and some secondary scenes. Then, as I write, I allow for surprises to weave themselves into the story. That said, I do believe in using the three-act structure and having all of the events follow a logical flow that illustrates the protagonist’s arc well.
V. The Hierophant: What do you feel is your most valuable piece of writing advice?
“Let the story be what it’s meant to be.” Lucy Christopher gave me similar advice at the 2013 AWP Conference, and I’ve heard or read similar guidance since then. The point is, don’t feel compelled to rely on genre or target-audience tropes. If you know what your story is about, then go ahead and write it. Everything else will figure itself out or fall into place eventually.
VI. The Lovers: Which of your characters follow their heart? Is it for the right reasons?
Doni from TKC definitely follows his heart. He’s the Council’s chief healer, and has always loved gardening, working with herbs and “nature’s gifts,” and taking care of others. It’s not a masculine hobby, of course; and his family ridiculed him about it for years. But Doni continued to pursue healing despite their opposition, and that passion has helped him become part of the Council of Selanaan, so Doni is very thankful for it.
VII. The Chariot: Tell us about the first “darling” you ever “killed.”
During Draft #2 of TKC, I made the painful decision to get rid of a few supporting characters. Those characters either didn’t stand out from the crowd, or didn’t have a clear role or purpose in the story. It wasn’t an easy decision, and some of the revisions resulting from that change were challenging. But I know the story is better because of the “casting cut.” And the funny thing is, I can no longer imagine those characters being in the story.
I also had an enchanted horse in Draft #1 of TKC. The horse is still in the story (it’s Eva’s horse, actually), but I got rid of the enchantment during Draft #2. As much as I thought the telepathic connection between Eva and her horse was neat, it wasn’t serving the story in any way.
VIII. Strength: What do you feel your greatest creative strength is?
Ummm… I feel pretty confident in my editing and story-polishing skills? Otherwise, I have no idea. (*blushes*)
IX. The Hermit: Can you write in coffee shops or other busy places, or do you need quiet?
I prefer to write at home, though I’ve also written in coffee shops, on the train, in a car with family, and other places. But I tend to concentrate best in a quiet setting, with instrumental music playing in the background or via earphones.
X. The Wheel of Fortune: Do you have a set routine or schedule?
Sort of….? Most of my novel-writing time comes on the weekends, when I have the most free time. I’ve had a lot more difficulty fitting it in during the week because of my work schedule and other commitments. But for Draft #3 of TKC, I’ve been trying to fit in 1 hour of re-reading or editing on select weeknights. Unfortunately that experiment has gotten off to a halting start (April has been a crazier month than I thought it would be), but I hope I can fit it more during the week
XI. Justice: What’s the biggest consequence that your main character will have to face? (If it spoils the plot, feel free to be vague.)
If Eva obtains the thing she really wants in TKC, it will jeopardize her mission’s chances for success – and possibly spell the end of her Council career. (*evil author laughter echoes*)
XII. The Hanged Man: What sacrifices do you make for writing time? Or, what must your main character be willing to choose between?
In terms of my sacrifices…. Well, I don’t clean my condo as often as I should. But I do keep it neat!
As for Eva’s sacrifices, she must be willing to choose between vengeance and compassion / forgiveness.
XIII. Death: What do you do after you’ve finished a project?
After I’ve finished a draft of a novel? I take a day off from my full-time job, relax, and treat myself to a nice dinner at a restaurant. 🙂
XIV. Temperance: Please share your best-tested & proven tip for balancing writing and “the rest.”
I can’t say I’ve managed a satisfying writing-life balance yet. However, the best related advice I can give is, “Be patient with yourself and your process.”
Some writers are speed-demons. Others need more time. Regardless, writing a novel is bound to take more time and effort than you think it will. Don’t rush or force anything. Instead, enjoy each scene and development, and let every step of your process happen naturally. And most of all, be grateful for any time you spent with your craft.
XV. The Devil: Everyone has a nasty habit they can’t shake. What’s your main character’s?
Speaking up when she probably shouldn’t. Eva isn’t insensitive, but sometimes she says things that get her into trouble. 😮
XVI. The Tower: Have you ever had to scrap an entire project and start over? How did it feel? Were you frustrated, sad, relieved, etc.?
I haven’t had to start over from scratch on a story. But I quit working the first story I started writing, and “trunked” the novel I’d worked on before TKC. In the first scenario, I was relieved to give it up. I was 13 years old, and my reason was, “This is too hard!” (Clearly I had a lot to learn about novel-writing then… ) And in the second scenario, I was sad and resigned. Sad because I remembered how much I’d loved the story at one point, but had since lost the passion for it; and resigned because I knew I had to let it go because I no longer loved it.
XVII. The Star: What is your favorite part of starting a new project? New notebook smell? Getting to know the characters? Building the plot?
Simply the excitement of starting something new! I work on only one story at a time, so being able to start a new project doesn’t happen too often. But I’m really looking forward to the day when I can send TKC to beta-readers – because I’ll finally have the time to concentrate on the novella idea I’ve been kicking around for the past year. 😀
XVIII. The Moon: What’s the biggest lie that your main character is telling herself?
The biggest lie that Eva keeps telling herself is that the Mountain Folk are a hurtful, selfish race. If you check out Aurek’s character interview from March, though, you’ll find that this is NOT true at all.
XIX. The Sun: Do any themes, symbols, or objects come full circle in your story?
I’ll skip the symbols and objects part because of SPOILERS. Though the heartstone ring that I mentioned in response to “The Magician” is very important… But in terms of themes, TKC touches on vengeance, forgiveness, family, friendship, loyalty, good versus evil, courage, race / culture, and identity.
XX. Judgement: Do your characters get what they deserve? Why or why not?
Some of TKC’s characters get what they deserve. Others don’t. A few more don’t deserve what happens to them at all. And on all counts, I can’t explain why because SPOILERS. 😉
XXI. The World: At what point did you know that you had to write this project?
Probably ever since I started Draft #1 in January 2013. I loved the premise and world from the very beginning, and hadn’t been so inspired by a story in a long time. But it wasn’t until a few months later that I realized, “You know what? This is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.” Gaining that awareness has made TKC even more special to me as a result.
My Nominees for the Author’s Oracle Writing Tag
If you’re a writer and you’re working on a WIP of any kind (novel, short story, novella, etc.), then it’s your turn! 😉 Make sure you link back to this post if you do it, so I can read your answers.
How about you? How would you answer any of the above questions? Do we have any “card readings” in common?