Sunday, October 10, 2010

Finding Inspiration in Cards and Quizzes

Art: Empress by Tsabo6
The internet is filled with a plethora of quizzes that ostensibly will tell you all about yourself. They can tell you what Star Wars character you are, what kind of moviegoer, and even your religious denomination. Or perhaps what kind of ice cream you are - not what you prefer - what you are. (I am chocolate chip. Boring.) Do a search on almost any topic ("What kind of ___ am I" quiz), and you will find several possible quizzes of varying quality. I don't want to link to any directly, since many of these sites have ads, and I don't want to appear to endorse them.

I really enjoy quizzes overall, not just because they help me procrastinate writing, but because they can give me some insight into my characters. After I take the quiz as myself, I channel my characters and take the same quiz as each of them in turn. It is actually an interesting way to see if I am taking the easy route of making all of my people into either me or the anti-me. And the canonical wisdom tells us that either of those extremes can lead to less interesting character development and more predictable character interaction. I am trying to create unique individuals who get into interesting situations.

One quiz subject I enjoy is the "What Tarot Card Are You" subject. I consistently test as "The High Priestess," the card of science, wisdom, knowledge, and education. Not a big shock for a scientist and writer, I suppose. My main character comes out as "The Sun," supposedly the card of happiness, contentment, and joy. Ironic considering how angsty he is, but perhaps this is the emphasis of what he wishes he had. His best friend is "The Heirophant" who brings "the divine to earth," a kind of "guardian angel." An excellent description, and an image that makes my mind wander to a few new ideas for him. The MC's lover tests out as, well "Love/The Lovers." Hmmm.

And if taking the quizzes isn't enough inspiration for new directions for your characters, then go ahead and actually get tarot readings for them. Again, a little playing around with your favorite search engine will lead to sites that have computers generate instant tarot card spreads. I certainly do not suggest calling "real" people or paying for anything like this, it is just for entertainment and ideas. But this was very enjoyable for me, as my main character had a computer reading done about his love life, and learned he needed to set it aside and concentrate on family celebrations and outings instead. An excellent idea.

For additional card fun, check out the "science tarot" on facebook. This link was sent to me by a friend and I had a good time browsing the art. I noted that the Queen of Wands card, the Storyteller, is Carl Sagan. Something of a paragon for those of us who long to tell the stories of science (real and otherwise) in a way that captivates, informs, and enlightens.

But approach these quizzes advisedly. One of my characters tested out as "Jar Jar Binks" in a Star Wars Character quiz.  I haven't felt the same about him since.


Image Credit: Empress is used with the very generous permission of Tsabo6 on deviantArt.

My comments: Tsabo6 creates some incredible art filled with mystery, beauty, and darkness. Empress is one of several concept art tarot pieces in the theme of "high fantasy with a hint of oriental mood." I was enthralled immediately by this piece, which has such balance and beauty. Certainly if this were a real tarot deck, I'd be in line to get one. Art like this is so inspiring, and keeps the mind open to new possibilities and options.


Andy said...

That's a really neat idea. I wonder if it would be worthwhile (certainly it would be time-consuming) to do something like a Briggs-Meyer test through a character's eyes.

Bryce Ellicott said...

Andy - Thanks for the comment. I hadn't considered taking it as far as the Myers-Briggs, but why not? I know there are shortened versions of that test out there, and it would be a good way to investigate new avenues for character development.

Amy said...

I love that idea! I would have never thought to have a tarot reading done for my characters. Fascinating. Sounds like a great way to work through writer's block, too.

Bryce Ellicott said...

Hey Amy - I agree, any of the quizzes can be a good way to get some new ideas or a fresh perspective, and keep the creative juices flowing.