I tried an experiment with last week’s Friday Flash; you’ll have to let me know how I did. (You can read it here.) I saw an ad from Jim Butcher (Dresden Files, Codex Alera, Cinder Spires novels) for Mythulu Creation Cards. Near as I could tell, they were a random character generator laid out sort of like a tarot deck. Or at least what I imagine a tarot deck to be; I’ve never used one.
You can look on the website (here) for instructions, and some very helpful videos. The thing that interested me was how the demonstrator would take a card and pull it in unexpected directions. Particularly, what she does with the “traitor” as a co-pilot. So, I gathered my coins and bought the creation cards.
A little back-story here: when I first get the picture for the Friday flash, I inevitably have a single thought. “What the heck am I going to do with this?” Last Friday, before the picture posted, I decided that I was going to pull out the creation cards and give it a go.
There are 6 categories of cards in the deck and pull from differing amounts of cards from different categories depending on what you are creating. Are you creating an illness? Pull one element and one relationship. Are you creating an animal? Pull two textures, one element, one character and 1-2 habitats. Etc. How you use them all is in the instructions. So I decided to pull a regular basic plain old monster. This is what I drew:
Character: The scavenger (picture of a vulture): Symbolizes poverty of mind, lives on the leftovers of greatness because they are unable to create something new.
Habitat: Mountain. Physical space for exploring the internal soul, Holy mountains are meant to be hard to climb.
Textures: Vibrating. (An adorable picture of a kitten) A gentle resonant rumble. Usually felt when some kind of energy if flowing freely, whether sound, electricity, or emotion.
Textures (2): Sigil. Symbols that have power to force or bind. Used in communities to rally groups together.
Elements: Ice. Vital element in state of life-threatening extreme. Symbol of imbalance. Unsustainable, but in short term can provide rest.
In one way or another, I wanted to put all of those things into my Friday flash. The mountain became the camera itself; the sigil became the “I have the ability to steal part of your soul” idea. Ice was used in both a life-threatening soul steal, and the main character’s need to keep moving around lest he be found out. The kitten? Hopefully in the flow of the soul fragment from one place to another. After drafting it, I decided it was too dark, so I also used the adorable little kitten purring as a direction to lighten it up a bit (hopefully I don’t get sued by the Kardashian clan).
If you’re a creator and you are stuck, or at the very beginning of your creation phase, no matter what you’re creating, I think this is a great tool and worth the cost. It gives you a basic framework but allows you to create within that framework as you see fit. And, of course, if you really hate the card you drew you can always throw that combination out and start over.
In the end, I’m really glad I bought the cards. I’m not sure I’d do for the weekly Friday Flash. When working with the Friday prompt, the picture already gives me a framework. My job became to fit the two frames together into a cohesive story. That’s tough with a 250 word limit; I’ll let you decide how successful I was.
What would be another cool experiment, and what we talked about in writing group this week, is to give everyone the same cards and ask them to write a short story. Because if you give six writers the exact same prompt, you will end up with six completely different stories. The possibilities for creation are endless.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awful lot of fun.
I hope you are navigating these most difficult of times with faith, love, and good literature.