To mark the publication of Astrology Decoded by Sue Merlyn Farebrother, let’s use some astrology in this week’s writing experiment. The symbolic types that astrology describes can be very useful for writers, and help us in generating new characters, settings, and story ideas.
* Take an astrological sign, and in one paragraph write a brief character sketch in which you embody some of the essential qualities associated with that sign: behaviours, actions, gestures, physical traits, occupations, clothes, home, family, love life, and maybe a bit of summary about that person’s history too.
* Take another astrological sign, and repeat for a new character.
* Then introduce those characters to each other in a scene that includes some dialogue. Perhaps you can bring in some element of conflict or connection based on ways in which the signs’ essential traits might have some bearing on each other.
To mix this up further:
* You might understand the difference between a sun sign (your essence or basic nature) and a rising sign (your mask or persona: how your essence meets life and interacts with the world). If so, you could make the portrait and exchange of your characters more complex by bringing in these added dimensions.
* If your knowledge of astrology goes deeper, perhaps you can introduce further influences or variables: planets, houses, aspects.
* Create a random character: pick a randomly chosen birth date (stick a pin in a calendar), and then use a computer-generated programme to assemble some characteristics before bringing them to life in a sketch or a scene.
* And maybe, if you have an existing piece of writing, you could use astrological signs in revision as a way to refine your characterisation: what are the signs of your characters, and how might these be brought out some more in the writing?