Category Archives: Story

How tarot cards can make your writing easier and more fun

In my six month writing masterclass, I will teach you how to use the tarot to write your book. But why do I think that tarot cards can help? Tarot has been used to explore psychology for years. Karl Young was a big fan. There is a reason.

It is an amazing tool.

I have over ten years experience as a tarot reader. I trained with the Tarot Schol of New York. This gave me a deep knowledge of esoterism  but also symbolism. Tarot is not reserved for divination, it is also an amazing tool to explore the human psyche. And what tarot is really is a series of flash cards to tell a story. Not every deck does that. Some decks are richer than others. The Rider Wait deck, which has does not usually appeal as much to beginners due to its austere design, is by far the most complex and useful deck I have used. Each card is a world onto itself. You can find out about a whole character by looking at one card only. This is the book I recommend.

Tarot is so much more than a divination tool. It is a fabulous tool to explore the subconscious. To go to the root of the matter. But it can also help you get unstuck if you reach a part in your book where you don’t know where to go. Let’s say you were exploring the psychology of your main character (and this applies to memoirs too), you can pull a card to understand his or her true essence. Or find out what his conflict is. Just with I one card. If you picked the King of Pentacles for example, this would indicate that your main character is a mature male with a grounded attitude and possibly a fair amount of money. If you had pulled the King of Wands, it would be an entirely different feel to it. There, you would be looking at someone passionate and creative but also that possibly has issues with anger management.

How do tarot cards work? They do because everything is energy. In my seven day writing challenge, I encourage my clients to connect to the energy of their book through a guided meditation. I believe that books are independent energetic entities. So you don’t write a book but you let the book be written through you. You are a conduit. All you need to know is how to pull the information and understand it. Tarot cards are amazing way to do this. Tarot cards carry energy too. All symbols do, which is the reason why I recommend being careful what you wear. When you shuffle a deck of tarot cards whilst asking a question, you send an energy to the cards and they respond. You don’t have to over complicate. Just give it a try and have fun.

We certainly will in my masterclass when we do. And I will bring my ten years of experience in doing professional readings to help you make sense of the cards. My six month writing masterclass starts on the 1st June 2017. It is meant for female leaders or business women who want to write an inspirational book. Contact me through my page if you are interested and want to know more.

18920449_1372666346159125_1523624483490306702_nOn the 21st of June, at 1 pm UK time, I will be holding a free one hour webinar on how tarot can be used to help write your inspirational book to give you an idea of what the masterclass will be like. It will be held on my Facebook page but to make sure not to miss it, sign up here: click here.

To your writing,

(C) Ange de Lumiere 2017


Forget the writer’s sandwich

You know the writer’s sandwich: a story had to have a beginning, a middle and an end? Well, forget about it.

Here is another way: you play with the characters, the place for your story, the relationship between your characters until you have a story that holds the ground and has enough tensive quality (some call it conflict, but to me it’s too strong a word) that you know it’s going to make a great story. Let me illustrate this with the story I wrote for a film script.

I had this idea about the story of a woman who has a phobia of churches and who goes to a hypnotherapist to get cured. She is desperate to get over it because she is getting married in the summer. That was the first idea. Initially the starting scene was taking place in my house. What I mean is that I visioned the girl coming to my practice which was easy to imagine because I am a clinical hypnotherapist and this is routine work for me. So in my mind, I played with the idea for a while. This girl was a lawyer and really not the usual client for a hypnotherapist but she had been dragged in by her best friend, who swore by hypnotherapy. Great start. I thought. I still do. But as the story progressed, the venue wasn’t so right anymore, so I transported everyone to London (I live in a little village north of Bristol) because this lawyer was quite a high flying chick and that didn’t fit with my semi-rural England setting. London did. And I knew about living in London. I revised my first draft and played with the story some more.

Then, I realised that there was not enough tension in her relationship to her friend. It was too “nice”. Her best friend had quit smoking with a lady hypnotherapist, so she was dragging her best friend there. There was no potential conflict between them. No good. As I was playing with my story, I suddenly had an insight into their friendship. Her best friend was actually her Fiancé’s ex and she hadn’t really got over him. Only she was denying it so she would act out. Hey hey, I said to myself. Much better.

I am not going to reveal anymore of my plot here but you can see that I deepened my story not because of the classic writing sandwich: a middle stuck between a beginning and an end. My story got depth by me playing with the characters, the venue and the setting (modern England). I am sorry if the writer’s sandwich has worked for you up to now. And if that is the case, by all means continue to use it. But if you got stuck or if the sandwich hasn’t worked for you, try this more creative approach. Get to know your characters. See how the venue introduces a cultural element to the story that informs it. Change the venue and see how it changes the story.

to your creativity,

Ange de Lumiere

Bird by bird

I hope Anne Lamott will forgive me for using the title of her book but this quote happens to be one of the most powerful message that I retained from it and the subject of today’s blog.

When you embark on a journey to write a book, it can be daunting. The idea of writing between 40,000 and 100,00 words can be enough to put off anyone. Except someone like me because I am a nerd. I hope you will forgive me.

How do you get over that daunting feeling? By tackling it in small bites. If you consider that an average page contains 300 words and you aim at writing a book with an average word count of 60,000, this means 200 pages. If you write one page per day, you will take approximately six months to get your first draft done. If you had more times on your hands, however, you could write two pages a day and you would have a book in a little over three months. I am being very approximative here but hey, writing is not an automated process. Although some writers claim to be able to do that but that’s another story all together.

This is where planning (structuring) your book can be a boon. Imagine if you took a few weeks to let the story develop in your head. You first focus on your main character and what it is exactly that he (or she) wants. You start defining his character, his life experience, where he lives, what he does for a living, whether he is single, straight, employed, etc. In fact most of your first week should be to delve into this person’s life to such extent that if you were interviewed about him for one hour, you would be able to answer any questions the interviewer shot at you as if it was your own life.

Then you need to bring to life a “villain”. Fiction is always about conflict. A villain is someone or something that will come in the way of your hero’s goal or aspiration. Supposed your main character was a woman of fifty years of age who had just been left by her husband for a younger woman and who aspired to be in a loving relationship again. Brave woman. Her villain might be the fact that she has seven children at home. It can make it a little more challenging to find a partner when you have that many children. But if you will forgive me a small digression, I listened to a phone in three years ago on BBC Bristol on Valentine Day, and heard the most beautiful love story ever of precisely that: a man who bumped his trolley into the trolley of a woman (who fitted this profile exactly) and who immediately fell in love with her and swore to look after her and her tribe until the day he died. They were happily married fifteen years later. Now that is a good story for a book. Don’t you think?

If, however, they met right away and eloped, that wouldn’t make a good book. There has to be a journey. Where would you start the book? Probably at the time she found out about her husband infidelity. Then you would plan the story’s outline and define thirty or more scenes with who is in it, what is the action for each scene (each scene has to contain its own little conflict). Perhaps initially our heroine would give her husband a second chance and he would mess it up.

You can see that by planning and slicing up your story in small chunks, it can make it a lot easier to write it because you then only commit to writing a few pages at a time. And this is where Anne Lamott’s title comes into it. It is an anecdote from her book when she tells her father that she can’t possibly learn all that there is to learn and feels overwhelmed. I have to admit I can’t remember precisely what her anecdote is about. And her father, who is a writer, tells her “bird by bird”, meaning take one bird at a time.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere

Writing as healing

Every single writer starts writing to heal some part of themselves whether they are aware of it or not. Writing is a healing practice. Some start with journaling. I think the benefits of journaling for healing are now well established.

But what is healing is not so much the words we use, or the way we do it, but more the fact that we tell our stories. This is how I got started myself. I was experiencing a very difficult time in my life as one of my closest friends got into heroin and dragged me along with her in her inferno for nearly ten years. I started to write the story of our friendship at that point because it became just too overwhelming to deal with it on my own. And so a writer was born. I could have journal but I decided to write it as a novel.

It has come to me recently that talking therapy is actually therapeutic and a deeply healing process mostly because it creates a safe space for the client to tell their story. I know many aspiring writers who want to share their story with the world to inspire others, which is a very noble thing to do. But they should remember first that they should be their first priority in the healing process, the possible impact on the reader and inspiration comes second. At least in the first stages of writing.

The healing power of telling your story as it is (your version) has actually been researched by several teams. A study published in The Oncologist showed that expressive writing could help cancer patients not only think of their disease in a different way but also improve their quality of life. We are talking help with medical conditions. Another study was done with physical injuries. Scientific America reports that a study made in New Zealand shows that writing as little as twenty minutes three consecutive days could impact healing of a wound. However, there is no magic bullet. If events have been extremely traumatic, writing about them can trigger PTSD symptoms, so please exercise caution when embarking on a writing journey.

I personally find great joy in using material from my personal life and realising that life is a big play. We are all on a hero’s journey, as Joseph Campbell so aptly reminded us with his exquisite work. What we experience has probably been experienced by many other people. The beauty of it, though, it we can use for our transformation and the transformation of others. We can transcend our condition and make an impact on the world. For this, I encourage you to define a purpose for your writing so that you sharpen your writing even further.

For example, only yesterday, I realised that the purpose of my book “Journey of the Slim Soul” was to help people step off the hamster wheel of diets and self hate. I wrote it out of frustration with the diet and fitness industry that sent so many false and confusing messages to slimmers. I was myself struggling with weight and body image issues but so were my clients. Writing the book was indeed therapeutic for me. And if I can achieve that goal of helping others step off the hamster wheel of dieting and self hate, I will be one happy author indeed.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere

To plot or not to plot

There is a big divide between authors who outline their novels and those who don’t and they both argue that theirs is the best way. In reality both camps have valid arguments for their method of approaching the art of story telling. Let’s say I am going to go beyond their arguments and suggest we talk about structure instead of outline.

Structure is essential for both fiction and non fiction work. This was illustrated by a recent client of mine who writes about healing. She had been posting on Facebook little snippets about her case studies and wanted to write a book to empower people to heal themselves without an intermediary and share with them her protocol. As soon as she talked about her project, I had a very clear idea of how to structure her book. It made sense to her and has made her writing her book easily as she now just slots her writing into a pre-existing structure. She says this tool had been invaluable.

A great way to find a structure for your non fiction book is to brainstorm all the ideas that you want to include. Jot them down on paper. Then, organise them. I find mind maps very useful. To see examples of mind maps, click here. If you have never used a mind map and want to get started, I suggest Tony Buzan’s book.

For fiction work, as mentioned above, the subject is more controversial. Some like to outline, some don’t. At first, from hearing about the outline camp, I thought I was not part of their tribe as they claim to work on their plots for two to three months before even starting to write their book. But after reflecting for a while, I realised the divide was an illusion. Every writer outlines their story even if it’s in their heads to some extent. Then some of them jot the ideas on a piece of paper whereas others formalise things more and go more in depth. For those who claim to properly outline their novels, who is to say that what they call an outline is not only one step away from someone else’s first draft.

In view of the above, I have come to the conclusion that a little bit of planning can go a long way. It would be foolish to go on an adventure without any map at all, as after all, writing a book is about going from A to B. And some authors claim that the digressions are part of the journey. And to an extend they do, as long as they don’t lead to a dead end, or bore your reader. The difference is whether you take an ordinance map with the finest details or a more general map to give you an idea.

What I write about books is also true for blogs. A successful blog has a purpose, a direction. Some call it a “stake” and you find out the stake of your blog or project by asking yourself how would you like it to change the world.

Most authors agree that whether or not you plot your book in advance, the biggest mistake is to rigidly stick to the map. The story or book (for non fiction) will evolve as you write because you will know the terrain. You will discover things that weren’t on the map. And mostly it will be people. Your characters, once they come to life, will want to interfere with your plan. As their personalities deepen, it impacts the story and creates twists that no writer could anticipate. and for non fiction authors, it might be a while angle that you had not anticipated ahead of writing. Stay flexible. Your work becomes an entity of its own nice you start writing it. Collaborate. Don’t resist.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere

The story triangle

Every writer should learn from ancient techniques such a story telling, even if they don’t write novels or stories. Why? Because you always write for an audience even if that audience is one single person. And this is the reason why I am writing today about the story triangle.

The story triangle is a relationship between you, your story and your audience.

You have a special relationship with your story. It is dear to you. This might be one of the reasons why you want to share it with the world, be it in the form of a poem, a novel, a film or a non fiction book. You want to be heard. You want your story to be heard. That is wonderful. And in today’s modern age it has become easier than ever before as anyone can publish an e-book or kindle book nearly for free. But this also means that to stand out, you need to be the best version of yourself that you can.

A mistake a lot of writers make, however, is to neglect their audience. They have a relationship with their story but forget about who is likely to read it. And one of the first question I ask any aspiring writer is “Who is your reader?” You might think it does not matter but I invite you to revise your opinion. Any artist has to have a relationship with its audience, even if they think they have none. And if you neglect a relationship, it can become dysfunctional. Once your story is released into the world (or your work of art, if you are a visual artist) you no longer control how people are going to react to it. But if you think a little about how important it is to know your audience you will understand how important it is for you to identify that person.

Let me give you an example: You don’t tell a story the same way to someone who is in a hurry than to someone who takes life on a slow pace. This is probably the biggest difference between a best seller thriller and a lazy summer read. One has to constantly grab the attention of the reader, the other has more space (don’t let that be an excuse to digress too much though because you can lose your reader very fast) to explore and digress. As your story is so important to you, take a little time to think who you want to write for. What kind of impact you want your story to have. And once you gain some clarity, start crafting it by respecting the genre of the story that your audience likes to read.

Some of you might get indignant and tell me they write for the sake of literature and why should they care? Perhaps we shouldn’t, but it also depends on why you write. If you want to share your story with the world, you will have to have a connection with others, as per the golden story triangle mentioned above. That relationship is just as important as your relationship to your story or the relationship of your audience to your story. The triangle must be balanced.

I encourage you to talk to your “typical reader” and tell them your story in a few sentences to test whether they might be interested in it. You might find a friend of a friend of a friend who will kindly do that for you. Or maybe you want to tell your story to everyone you come across to test how wide an audience you can reach. The more you practice clarifying your story (even before you write it) the easier it is going to be to write it and sell it to a publisher. So practice telling your story to a variety of audience and pay attention to their reaction to your story. This might help to shape it and could be precious feedback along the way.

To your creativity