Character Goal, Motivation & Conflict Spread

I saw this spread on tumblr (here.) and, while my initial thought was, “Hey! Just in time for NaNoWriMo” (not that I participate), that was quickly followed by, “What other uses could I find for it?” One in particular came to mind – after all, aren’t every single one of us just characters in our own stories (and those whose lives we intersect with)?

This spread is a really good way of examining relationships in a less personally invested way. Trouble with the MiL? Treat her like a character in your story. Hate your boss? Examine their villainous motives. By distancing yourself from your emotional attachment to the issue and examining the story arc from her character’s standpoint, who knows how things can be rewritten. So often the way we phrase things and the words we use can make a huge difference to how we perceive something.

Enough chicken soup, it’s story time!

For the initial spread, I wanted to examine my character’s story and his story alone; how did he get here? But what deck to use… needs to be a storytelling deck… oh! I haven’t used the Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights yet (and as for why I own this deck, it’s Le Fanu’s fault!) A storybook deck for a storytelling spread, and because this is a story spread, I will refrain from my usual method of turning all the cards and then beginning the interp, and will read in a linear fashion instead.

Tarot of the 1001 Nights by Léon Carré; Lo Scarabeo, 2005 [click to enlarge]

[1] Character (something you may or may not already know about your character) – 6 of Swords
I already know (assume) he has crossed over, in some way.
Intuitively, he is a traveller.

[2] Goal (the inner or the outer goal) – Knight of Swords
To have a wild adventure, fly high above the world, escape the bonds of earth.

[3] Motivation (the inner or the outer motivation of the character) – IX The Hermit
Possibly, seeking a holy man, but – taking the goal of “escape the bonds of earth” into consideration – I’m going to say to be a holy man. And I do believe the word “counsellor” suits the Hermit rather well (as opposed to the Hierophant’s “advisor”).

[4] Conflict (this card is laid so that it is horizontally across cards 2 and 3 – it is what is directly in front of the character that they must get past) – 7 of Swords
A secret; arcane knowledge. To lift the veil, or not?

[5] Goal Change (how the original goal is modified or intensified by the conflict) – Knave of Wands
Hmmmmmm. From Knight to Knave; from flying to grounded – is this a step backwards, or forwards?

[6] Motivation Change (how the original motivation is modified or intensified by the conflict) – Queen of Swords
In the modified goal, he is standing outside the gates of a city, looking towards it. So then, to meet the Queen? (Does this have anything to do with me, the Queen of Swords? The created wants to “meet” the creator?)

[7] Plot Point (situation or decision the character now faces) – 5 of Wands
Well, if his goal was to reach the city to meet the Queen, then he has gained entrance to her court. However, now he has to sit through the formalities of entertainment and polite conversation and is growing rather impatient. (Yes, yes, stories take time, dear one.)



One thought on “Character Goal, Motivation & Conflict Spread

  1. gefnsdottir says:

    *steals this spread to post on her own blog* I’m always looking for good character generation spreads, and I am participating in NaNoWriMo (against my better judgement, I might add). Thanks a lot!


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