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Tips And Tricks 2: 3 Really Cool Ways to Write Your WIP

Updated: Jul 21, 2021


Hi everyone! How's it going? We're halfway through 2021 (OMG!) and things are finally opening back up. It's been crazy since last year, but we're still going strong.


Anyways, since this is my first year (successfully) keeping up with blog posts, I'm still getting in the groove of things when it comes to when I should post book reviews vs. when I should post my Fun Facts (hopefully coming next month) or Tips and Tricks (of which this post is). So, bare (bear?) with me as I figure it out.


Okay. Enough about the housekeeping stuff! This month I'm going to tell you 3 Really Cool Ways to Write Your WIP (Speaking of works, check out Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron and Tweet Cute by Emma Lorde!) and, hopefully, give you some ideas for your next WIP. Let's jump in!



1. The Story Engine Deck


Earlier this month, one of my best friends introduced me to this really cool prompt generator called The Story Engine Deck. If you have trouble trying to figure out plot, this is the deck for you.


Created by Peter Chiykowski, The Story Engine Deck allows you to "Generate story ideas, creative writing prompts, and D&D campaign ideas in seconds."


The concept is super simple. There are five cards that represent a different part of your story: Agent Cards (characters), Engine Cards (the character's motivations), Anchor Cards (objects, locations, and/or events of interest), Conflict Cars (obstacles for the character to overcome), and Aspect Cards (details and descriptions that modify other cards).


To create a basic story, you shuffle the cards and pull one of each, putting them in the order listed above. For an example, check out the image below where the prompt would be: A survivor wants to expose the secret of a corrupted paradise, but their community will reject them.


Pulled this from their website. Doesn't it look great?

There are millions of combinations, so the odds of your story being unique are very much in your favor. There are also ways to make more complex storylines, but I'll let you figure those out on your own by visiting the website.


Some of the prompts that I created include:

  • A panic-inducing worker wants to find hope in a forgotten hospital, but they will have to try something frightening and new.

  • A clever soldier wants to escape a school, but it will cost them their soul.

  • A cursed prison within a portal belongs to a tormented holy person who wants to destroy a charming demon, but no one will ever know the reason why.


There were more, but I'll let you discover them on your own.


Aaaannnd, before I forget, Peter and his team just created The Story Engine: Deck of Worlds, which can be used to create "imagined lands, local lore, and story-driven world maps [that can be] instantly explore[d] through writing or roleplay." Their Kickstarter Campaign for this just ended, but there's a link that'll let you know when pre-orders are available! If you've got some extra money laying around, I suggest you hurry and claim your copy.


In the meantime, if you just want to try it, they do offer a test set of the original Deck of Worlds; you just have to sign up for their email list. I tried the sample set before purchasing and, let me tell you, it made me back their campaign SO FAST. It's definitely worth the price.



2. Story-Based Card Games


As you can probably tell by the way I hyped up The Story Engine Deck, I'm a huge fan of tabletop games, specifically board and card games. But my favorite ones are those that require a bit of imagination. Enter story-based card games.


I have played and own quite a few of these, including Cards Against Humanity, Joking Hazard, and Danger. But the one that I want to talk about real quick is Once Upon a Time the Card Game.


In terms of the objective, The Once Upon A Time Card Game is pretty simple. You deal out the cards, decide who goes first, and tell a story based on your cards.

Look at the expansion packs!

The game ends when someone has successfully reached their "End" card. The rules of play are a bit more complicated. There are "Interrupt" cards that let you interrupt the story that another player is telling if the other person says the word or a similar word to the one on your card. There are also rules about stuttering or unsuccessfully interrupting another player.


So you're probably wondering: How will this help me create my WIP?


I'm glad you asked. Much like The Story Engine Deck, the cards from the Once Upon A Time Card Game are there to guide your plot. If you decide to use this method, my suggestion is to draw cards the same way you would when playing the game; but, instead of playing, just lay them out in an (almost) random order―beginning with your characters.


Let the cards build the story for you.


I've done this a few times, and there are some pretty unique ways to spin the stories. My only word of caution is that most of them are fairy-tale-based, so this method is mostly for people with WIP's that are fairy-tale-based.


There are several places that you can purchase this game from, including your local game shop, but Amazon has the original game and the seven expansion packs (Fairytale Mash-ups, Enchanting Tales, Seafaring Tales, Knightly Tales, Animal Tales, Fiary Tales, and the Writer's Handbook) for about $100. It even comes with these two Treasure Chest Pin Back Buttons!


Anyways, you don't have to take my word for it. Purchase it for yourself, try it out, and let me know in the comments if this hack helped you out.




3. Tarot Cards


I'm not going to lie. I haven't tried to do this one at all, but I've heard plenty of people say that it works, so I plan to try it soon.


Tarot Cards have long been used to predict the future or answer (non-yes or no) questions that individuals might have about their lives. But, they can also be used to tell a story. How? Easy.

Use the cards like normal, but instead of asking questions related to yourself, ask questions related to your characters. Let the cards plot out your character's future, thereby creating something unique to your WIP.


For this venture, I suggest The Modern Witch Tarot Card Deck. It includes all the cards of a tarot deck and a guidebook for people who might be new to the practice (and man, is it helpful!). Just remember that if it's your first deck, you should probably have someone else purchase it for you (it's all about the juju).


Who knows, maybe I'll try to use it to help me with the plot of the book that I'm planning to write for NanoWrimo this year (you know, it's the special WIP on this website that may be titled The World That Binds Our Love). If so, I'll definitely write an update on how that worked out for me.


BONUS

This isn't so much a bonus as it is a note, but if the above Tips and Tricks don't work for you, you can always search for plot-based prompts online. Since most prompts revolve around characters, they're a little difficult to find, but they are out there.


There are also an array of card-based games that I didn't discuss that could work for creating plot-based prompts.


That said, if these tips work for you, or if you have some of your own, please post them in the comments. Otherwise, check out my article on 5 Ways to Create a Character or any of my book reviews. I look forward to hearing from you!



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