Teneice Durrant, creator of Tarot with Ten, will use various tarot and oracle decks to provide monthly readings for writers, with exercises on using imagery and intuition as prompts. January’s prompt is all about developing a person vs. person conflict in your story.
Welcome to the first On Deck of 2024! Last year, we used tarot to develop our characters, work out a plot, and flesh out some specific scenes. To kick off January, I thought we’d continue by using tarot to give us more details about different types of conflicts we might use.
We’ll start with person vs. person conflicts. It might be helpful for you to revisit the blog posts on protagonists and antagonists so that you’ll have a backstory for these two characters as they approach the central conflict.
Person vs. person conflict development
In a person vs. person conflict, another character or group of characters obstructs the main character's goal, creating a conflict that results in an argument or physical confrontation. Ultimately, the protagonist has to choose how they will try to overcome the person or people who are keeping them from getting what they want.
While it might not always be so black and white, for the purpose of this post, let’s characterize the protagonist as the hero or “good guy” and the antagonist as the villain or “bad guy.” A person vs. person conflict, then, could be a scene that takes place in a crowded subway station where the protagonist/hero is running away from the antagonist/villain.
Tarot reading for writers
As always, these images are from the Rider Waite tarot deck, via Pixabay (Creative Commons license), and you can flip through all cards from this reading here:
What is the main character’s immediate or long-term goal?
Four of Wands
The Four of Wands is a card of freedom, foundations, celebrations, and marriage. The main character may be in search of someone to marry, or they may want an epic party. Their goal should be something they’ve wanted for a long time and probably romanticized or attached to some unrealistic expectations. They may believe that once this event happens, their life will be perfect.
Why does the antagonist want to keep the protagonist from achieving that goal?
The Hanged Man
The antagonist wants the protagonist to take a deep breath and look at the situation from a different perspective. They might encourage the main character to take action in opposition to the goal to make sure that it’s something the main character really wants.
What kind of confrontation do they end up having?
Six of Swords
The Six of Swords indicates that the protagonist and antagonist will have a verbal argument rather than a physical fist fight. Swords are the suit of logic and reason, thoughts and fairness. Each side argues from their position, and one side ends up leaving because the drama is too much. They want a calmer environment.
How will the main character overcome the person trying to stop them?
The Star is a card of healing and guidance. The wish or goal that the main character has is their motivation, and the desire to achieve their goal guides their actions. The Star is also a card of wishes being granted. Whether or not the protagonist and antagonist ever see each other again, there is an understanding between them.
Imagine that the setting for this conflict is the town you grew up in and your main character’s goal involves a major landmark in the town. Use the previous descriptions—plus the imagery on the cards as inspiration—to write a scene where the antagonist and the protagonist clash over the stated goal.
We will continue in February with person vs. self conflicts.
Until next month (next year!), here’s how to find me outside of the Center:
YouTube Tarot with Ten
What did you think of this tarot reading and the cards as visual prompts for story development? Share with us in the comments, and contact us if you’re interested in working one-on-one with Teneice in part 3 of Writing Toward Balance and Wholeness: Tarot and the Narrative Arc (taking parts 1 and 2 first is not required).
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