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Writers and Performers have told us that the Cards Against Inanity questions can help them in their craft. One school in Australia has even made it part of their standard curriculum.
Here is what they report:
Many writers begin writing their stories with a plot in mind. This is necessary but hardly sufficient. What drives most stories are the characters.
That is why before writing your story, in addition to having a good idea of what is going to happen to whom you want to have a really good idea of what your major characters are like.
The Cards Against Inanity deck can help you with that. We suggest that for your protagonist main characters you write down the answers to the questions on the Aces, Twos, Queens, Kings and Jokers from the Deck of Me.
A♥ Me: Who am I? Who are the main characters. How would they describe themselves? How would others describe them? How does this change during the course of the story.
A♣ People: Who is important to me? Who does each character care about and who cares about them? How does this change as the story develops?
A♦ World: What do I need to understand? To understand something is not the same as to know it. What does each character know in the beginning of the story and what do they learn later on. How do the come to better understand what they know?
A♠ Work: What do I want to do? What does each charter think they want to do at the beginning of the story? How do their desires change with time? If there is something they want to have, what do they need to do to get it? If they don’t know what they want, how will they find out?
2♥ Gratitude: What am I grateful for and how do I give thanks? Are your characters grateful for the right things? Do they express gratitude? What do they learn to appreciate over the course of the story?
2♣ Fairness: What does fairness mean to me? How do your characters treat each other? Why?
2♦ Wealth: Where do the things I want come from? Wealth is the measure of whether you have what you want. What do your characters want and how will they get it? Do they even know what they want?
2♠ Motivation: What will I do only if rewarded and what will I do for its own sake? What motivates your characters? How do they try to motivate each other?
Q♥ Personal Narrative: What has been my story so far and what kind of experiences have I set myself up for? Don’t just have things happen to your characters. Instead, set up the circumstances so that what happens is a natural consequence of what came before.
Q♣ Human Condition: How can I be of service to mankind? Does your story say something about what it is like to be human?
Q♦ Mythology: What invented stories are useful in making sense of the world? Does your story help your audience understand something better?
Q♠ Hero’s Journey: When will I put myself at risk for that benefit of others? Do your characters risk anything? What do they gain and what do they sacrifice in order to get it?
K♥ Honesty: Am I who I say I am? Are your characters honest with themselves? What does your audience learn that the characters don’t know about themselves?
K♣ Accountability: Who do I answer to? Do your characters heed a higher authority or have obligations to others?
K♦ Growth: How do I become more skilled, knowledgeable or wise? Most stories involve transformation. How do your characters grow?
K♠ Integrity: What are the rules that I live by and do I do what I say I will do? If you know what principles guide each of your character you’ll be able to better know what they will do throughout the story. Do your characters change their nature as the story progresses?
Joker – Mortality: Is doing what I am doing worth my time? Are your characters wasting their time an the audience’s as well? Is everything in your story necessary or can it be eliminated?
Joker – Purpose: Why do I do what I do? Do your characters know why they act the way they do? In real life most people don’t understand their motivations or true purpose until they reflect on what they are doing. This is true in good stories as well; often the protagonist is the last character to know why they do what they do.
Browse the rest of the cards and select the ones that are appropriate to your story. Here are some suggestions:
Family, Friendship and Community (3♣, 4♣, 5♣).We can think of these three groups in terms of motivation to help you. Family are the people who will help you even during times when you are unlikable. Friends will help you because they like you and your community includes people who will help you even if they don’t know you. Who are your character’s family, friends and communities.? When do friends act like family? Who does your protagonist learn to appreciate… to love even?
Love: Self-Love, Loving Others, Loving Life and Loving Work (10♥, 10♣, 10♦, 10♠). There are many kinds of love. It is hard to love someone who hates themselves, their life and their work. Do your characters change in this regard?
Use the cards when you feel blocked. If there comes a time when you feel stumped then shuffle the entire deck and deal yourself four cards. Almost without exception exploring the answer to one of the questions will get you started again.
Using the Deck of We. So far we have been talking about using the questions on the Deck of Me to help flush out your main characters. If your story involves forging a bond between people then use the questions on the Deck of We to define what that bonds look like at the beginning of the story and at the end.
Use the cards with your real life too. Of course, you yourself are on a journey. Who are you exactly? What has been your story so far and what experiences are you setting yourself up for? How will you find the market for who you are. All these questions are just as important for you as they are for your characters.
If you are a writer, actor or other creative type and you are interested in using these cards in your work then we’d really like to hear from you.