Preptober Planning: Moon Phase Writing Experiment Week 1 Update

It is now the second week of October, and we have reached the end of the first week of the Moon Phase Writing Experiment.  The Full Harvest Moon lit the first night of October, and the Disseminating Moon, or the waning gibbous has illuminated the other nights of this week. 

These two moon phases were what guided my writing this week.  I am fully in the midst of Preptober, planning and scheming for a new novel that I will begin drafting during National Novel Writing Month in November (NaNoWriMo). This new project is going to be my first attempt at a paranormal romance story.

I will also be *attempting* to work on my YA Fantasy project as well during NaNoWriMo, but I haven’t yet figured out the tricks and tips of working on multiple projects at once.  So you will see that my numbers for Project Grey, the YA Fantasy, and Grey 2, the sequel are going to be abysmally small this week.

 If you want to read about all of the moon phases, go ahead and read my post on the Moon Phase Writing Challenge: A Preptober Experiment.

Full Moon Phase

For the Full Moon Phase, I considered it to be a Waxing Moon Phase, or a day in which I focused whole-heartedly on the growth of my story.  The Full Moon, which included the 1st, the day prior (September 30th), and the day after (October 2nd), these were the things to focus on:

  • Drafting
  • Planning
  • Adding Scenes, Information, and Details
  • Adding a plethora of experiences, events, and situations
  • Character Building
    • Developing characters who live very full lives
    • Outline the full growth cycle of characters
    • Build relationships: antagonistic, platonic, familial, romantic, etc.
  • World Building: Focus on the Southern Direction of the setting

I used the 1st and the 2nd to do some critical world building.

First of all: The Genre. Since this is a moon phase writing experiment, there must be shapeshifters of some sort (or at least that’s what my brain tells me).  Being an avid reader of them, I decided I would attempt to make this story a paranormal romance. Here’s hoping this novel goes much better than the contemporary romance I found so excruciating to write.

Next: The timeline or timeframe of the story.  Since this experiment is based on the moon phases, it would be neat if I can fit the events into a single lunar month time frame. Although, within these two days, I already decided I wanted the first few scenes (where the lead characters are introduced) to be outside of the month time frame.  In other words, this story will be a whirlwind romance!

Now onto the Characters!

 As another point of inspiration, the Shadowscapes Tarot deck has several demi-human characters in the images, so I decided to use this deck the moon phase writing experiment. The card that made me decide this is the card of The Magician.  I will insert a photo of his card.

The globe in his hand made me begin to question what kind of magic he was creating.  From there, I began to ask myself questions.  The following in an excerpt of my stream of consciousness notes.

Is he creating a new form of life? Does this creation go against nature? Is he creating a clone of himself? What happens if he accidentally passes all of his talent to the clone? What if, after he creates this new clone, his body ages and crumbles like Rumpelstiltskin? What if the new clone is then fascinated by the manipulation of time? Or how the Magician lost his wings and horns (particular to the deck I am using)?  Did the Magician become human before he crumbled? Does the new Magician become fascinated with human genes and splicing them with animals? Is that how the shapeshifters are created?

And Boom! There I had the foundational information for why shapeshifters exist in my new world.

Tarot Cards for Plot Inspiration!

Using a circular Tarot spread (because of the shape of the moon and the directional associations for the moon phases on a Wheel of the Year diagram), I used the directional points on a compass rose to lay out 8 cards, plus I pulled the bottom card of the deck to represent hidden information.

In this way, I was able to gain inspiration for the main characters, as well as inspiration for how psychic humans came into being in this new world.  I also began to gather inspiration for some of the antagonists, and how they would come into play. 

For example, I pulled the Knight of Cups Reversed for the North Eastern direction.  The card meaning can be associated with a man who appears to be gallant, romantic, and generous, but is in fact someone who is involved in trickery, fraud, and deception.

The North East direction on the circular or wheel layout can be associated with the 3 AM witching hour or devil’s hour. It is a time when evil, supernatural, and black magic are at their strongest.  This direction can also be associated with the waxing crescent moon phase.

This antagonistic Knight of Cups Reversed is definitely going to be manipulating one or more women around the main characters.  Why is he doing it? How does it relate to The Magician?  These are the questions I started asking myself.

Hidden Card:

The card from the bottom of the deck can represent the hidden information.  I pulled the Seven of Cups, which (in the Shadowscapes deck) has an image of a masculine and feminine pair who are looking at a map and obviously searching for something.  The feminine character is pointing the way to a magical floating island with a castle on it.

Eureka! They are on a quest to find the Magician’s library. Why? A library would have the Magician’s grimoires and records of all the experiments he did when he was creating the shapeshifters.  Why would they need that information? Something must have gone wrong with the shapeshifters’ ability to shift.

Which gives me more information about my main female character – she must have some talent or ability to help find the library or the Magician’s laboratories.

Directional Focus

The Full Moon phase is associated with the Southern direction, and for this position, I pulled the Page of Pentacles Reversed.  This can mean a student, or someone who is immature, or can indicate delays in physical development.

This solidified the idea that something has gone wrong with the shapeshifters’ ability to shift. I initially thought perhaps I would have the elders be the ones in trouble, but when I pulled the Page, I started to rethink this.  The characters in the story would feel their mission to find the cure that much more urgent if the youths were affected. As for the direction, the shapeshifters’ lair would be to the south of the area where the female main character lives. I am still in the midst of creating a very simple map, but the shapeshifter village, or lair if we want to call it that, will be in the south.

But even after I looked at all 9 cards, I still didn’t have a whole lot of information about the conflict in the story (other than the whole “race to save the shapeshifters” task). So I moved on to the second moon phase tasks.

Disseminating Moon Phase

The second phase, the Disseminating Moon Phase, is also known as the Waning Gibbous. This runs from the 2nd to the 9th of October.  During this timeframe, I should be working on:

  • Editing
  • Deleting clutch phrases
  • Removing Excess Information, details, scenes, and even characters
  • Eliminating Plot Holes
  • Characters using gifts to benefit the community
  • Unconventional philosophies or actions,
  • Teachers, Preachers, and Mentor Characters
  • How information spreads in your writing or story world
  • When Worldbuilding: focus on the south-western direction of the setting.

In order to fix the plot holes (of having no clear idea of the conflicts), I continued with the Tarot Card Inspiration, and I pulled another set of nine cards (using the same wheel or circular layout).

For the characters using gifts to benefit the community, this fits the main characters to a T.  The male and female leads will be using their own gifts in order to find information and help solve the problem of the shapeshifting community.

Characters leading the conflict

With the second batch of cards, I pulled the Page of Wands, a young, fiery, and temperamental kind of character. This character can be somewhat volatile, just like the fire element associated with wands.  I again began to ask myself stream of consciousness questions.

Is the raging and anger what happens to other psychic humans who inherited the Magician’s elemental talents? Is that the excuse they give for locking the female lead up in an asylum, or is this a different character entirely?  A different character, because that seems limiting. Is this character one who falls in love with the wrong person and goes off the rails (loses sanity and good decision-making skills) when she is betrayed? Does she fall in love with the Knight of Cups reversed?

But how does this rocky relationship affect the main characters? If the Page of Wands falls in love with the evil and womanizing Knight of Cups Reversed due to his fraudulent gentle side, she will be hit hard emotionally. Her obsession with him grows -either getting him to love her back or getting revenge for betraying her.  She could also be a part of the discord within the family to convince those in the family that the Knight of Cups is a better option for the next alpha (before he betrays her), and could also frame the female lead (scapegoat) for something that harmed the family so that they don’t trust the female and male leads to properly handle the quest.

What does the Knight of Cups Reversed offer to the Page of Wands? False affection and the illusion of love – maybe drugs to keep her addicted and obsessed with him. How will she take revenge on him? How does her revenge endanger the other shapeshifters?

By the time I finished pulling all 9 cards for the second layout, I had solidified the B-Plot in my mind.  The B-Plot is centered around this rocky relationship and how it spirals out of control and impacts the shapeshifters as well as the main characters.

Directional Association

The Disseminating Moon is associated with the South Western direction, and for that position, I originally pulled the Ace of Swords Reversed. This is a card of the air element, but also a card of indecision, poor judgement, or ineffectiveness.

This ineffectiveness and indecision could be caused by a red herring of information the main characters receive.  There might be a ruined laboratory or rumors of a grimoire that lead the characters to the South West. I haven’t decided if I want this to be ruins or an auction house.

To- Do List for the rest of this moon phase

I still need to figure out who the mentor or teacher characters are.  Unconventional actions must be planned. The Gossip Network among the shapeshifters will need to be created (which means figuring out who all the aunties in the shapeshifter village are, who they’re related to, what kind of water cooler breaks are a part of the shapeshifter community, etc.). I also need to figure out how the Page of Wands – the one who goes crazy after the Knight of Cups Reversed betrays her – is going to get into contact with the Magician and betray the shapeshifters (spoilers!).

As for the Word Count I have written a total of 18,213 words this month, and 13,409 of them were for this Moon Phase Writing Experiment. I would say that I am doing pretty well with this experiment thus far.

If you would like to watch the video version of this blog post, please head over to The Dawdling Writer YouTube channel.

Also, I host live writing sprints (like a write-in, but digital) Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays at 1-3 PM Eastern, and on Sundays for live weekend writing sprints at 2-5 PM Eastern. Feel free to drop by and get some words in with me.  And don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you are joining me in trying out this experiment of writing according to the moon phases.

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