Physical Description of Character
In her book, Tarot for Writers, (which I highly recommend) Corrine Kenner has an exercise where she suggests you select a card and build your character’s physical description off it. You can either deliberately select a Tarot card or randomly choose one
When you look at the card, focus on physical attributes such as age, hair and eye color, body build, skin color, clothing, and overall appearance.
Let’s try this with the Seven of Pentacles. Don’t worry about what the card means for the time being. That’s not necessary when using the card to brainstorm a physical description.
A young man with dark hair is leaning on a hoe staring at a bush of growing pentacles.
My character will be in his mid-twenties with dark brown hair. He’s in good health, but perhaps needs to walk with a cane. Not permanently but only because he was injured in a car accident.
Let’s try another.
The Strength card. Again, don’t worry about the meaning of the card. Focus on what’s on the card itself.
A young woman dressed in a white gown garlanded with flowers is pictured with a lion. She also has flowers in her hair.
How would you brainstorm a character off this card?
This character will also be young. A potential friend or love interest for the young man.
What else is in the card?
The woman is wearing a white gown. She’s shown with a lion. Perhaps she’s a veterinarian or works in a circus or at the zoo. Maybe she has a pet.
Or the lion can be ignored altogether. The idea is to go with whatever pops into your mind as all that’s being done here is brainstorming.
Don’t make it too hard. Relax and jot down as many ideas as come to you.
So far we have a dark-haired young man who walks with a cane as the result of a car accident. We also have a young woman who will have been the cause of the car accident. When creating your characters, try to bring in conflict or potential conflict as soon as possible.
What happens if you pull a card like this one?
This is the Three of Swords. How do you brainstorm a character off of this card?
You have two options. You can choose another card, one with a person portrayed on it, or you can brainstorm off the card. How?
What colors predominate in the card? Red and gray and silver. The character could have red, gray or silver hair. There are also rain clouds. Perhaps the character cries a lot or looks like he’s always about to cry? The swords could suggest someone with very sharp features.
For this example, the Three of Swords could imply an older man with gray or silver hair. He’s hawk-nosed with severe features. He’s very good at making other people cry due to his harsh personality. He’s the young man’s father.
Not only is he harsh with his only son, but he’s not happy with the young woman who caused the car accident. Again, more potential conflict.
This is a really fun way to come up with characters. You can brainstorm as many as you want or need for your story.
If you’d like to read more, you can purchase Write Faster with Tarot – Creating Characters at the following sales outlets:
Tomorrow I’ll have an excerpt from Write Faster with Tarot – Structuring Plots. Then, on Friday, I’ll wrap up my NaNoPrep series and after that, on Saturday, November 1st, we can all start writing our novels!