Last year I bought a book called Tarot For Writers, that’s about using the symbolism and meaning in Tarot cards to help with your writing. I’ve found it to be a great resource in helping me to organize my plots and get ideas for characters, and it was one of the things that helped me get Cartography for Beginners out of the limbo it had been in since 2008.
I started with a character spread for Stuart.
* princess of cups – undercurrent of emotion, romantic but unlucky in love. Reversed: jealousy, melancholy.
* Conflict: queen of cups. Nurturing, protective, intuitive. Reversed: Meddling/overbearing.
* Hopes and fears: five of wands. Group effort, teamwork, conversations/quarrels, strife, power struggles.
Stuart feels things more deeply than he lets on. He’s chosen his previous partners poorly and always makes them leave before they can hurt him by leaving. Stuart wants someone he can really talk to and be understood by, but he’s afraid of losing power in the relationship by being vulnerable.
Then, a character spread for Leo.
* The star – conflict of logic and emotions, language, hope, promises, expectations, wish fulfillment. Reversed: broken dreams, dashed hopes, disappointments.
* Conflict: four of wands: perfection, completion, stability, partnership/instability, shakeups, conflict.
* Hopes and fear: Five of wands: disappointment, acceptance, recovery, hope.
Leo had what he thought was a perfect partnership but those dreams are over. Leo needs to let to of his disappointment in Adam and allow himself to hope for a new beginning.
For setting, I got the two of wands: dominion, boundaries.
Stuart’s properties, particularly his vineyard. I knew I wanted the bulk of the story to take place in London already. The final scenes had to take place at Stuart’s vineyard, out in nature, where they both could be themselves, a safe place away from others.
Then a basic plot card: the two of swords. a choice between two conflicting ideas, emotions or thoughts. Equilibrium, balance. Reverse: indecision, lies.
Stuart wants Leo but can’t decide if he should act on it: he doesn’t want to take that final step.
All of this gave me this very basic outline:
Stuart is a disappointed romantic who protects himself so vigorously it shuts people out. Somehow he has to realize this in himself and try to protect Leo from turning out that way as well. However, Leo doesn’t need protection; like the Star, he’s full of hope.