STORY GENERATOR FOR "NIGHTMARES WHEN I’M COLD" USING MYTHULU CREATION CARDS
Updated: Jul 12
Unbelievably worth it. I can credit these cards for many of my stories, plot points, characters, villains, you name it! I’ve had my deck for about three years now and they’ve more than earned their keep. The amount of work that went into these cards is insane. They’re gorgeous, thoughtful, and their capability to get your wheels turning is (dare I say it?) priceless.
I’m going to show off a few of the cards without giving away too many (the deck is thick!) and give you an example of how I utilize them.
First, let me give you the run down of the deck.
There are 6 categories:
· Characters (identity/purpose)
· Relationships (foundation of motives/enable weakness)
· Habitats (literal habitat/external metaphor for internal state of mind)
· Elements (vector for change/metaphor for emotion)
· Traits (outward energy/advantage at a cost)
· Textures (inward energy/sensory detail)
Psst... there’s also a 7th “dialogue” category on the app, which is available when you purchase a deck.
Before you get started, take a minute to ask yourself what you are hoping to find out about your story/character/setting/whatever. For this example, I am going to take the anthology/competition theme "Nightmares When I’m Cold" (click link or see previous post for deets). Without taking this theme too literally (and keeping the horror genre in mind) I’m going to ask myself a few questions:
1. Who/what is the character? (Protagonist/other characters)
2. What is the “nightmare”? (Antagonist/conflict/event/situation)
3. What is the “cold”? (Setting/atmosphere/state of mind)
I’m going to pull one card from each deck, sit with them for a few minutes, then jot down everything that comes to mind based on the picture, description, and anything else - no matter how random it might seem. Sometimes the idea takes off and veers in a new direction and I just roll with it. It feels like this:
OMG it's so fun...
· Character card: MERCHANT – One who trades. More interesting if they don’t accept money.
Thoughts: Character a person who trades or receives something in trade?/traveling merchant/mysterious newcomer/ seller who is not honest about what is being sold/ what might he trade? Souls? Extraterrestrial items? Something possessed?/ not who they seem/ main character is the “merchant” in the story, desperate to get something off their hands
· Relationship card: EXPERIMENT – A controlled investigation where subject does not understand the test. Undertaken to resolve conflicting theories about the world. Thoughts: searching for a particular result/ Frankenstein/ alien abduction/ attempting contact via a séance/ trying a new method to solve one’s personal problem/ doing something unethical for personal gain/ trying something without knowing the outcome
· Element card: GEM & CRYSTAL – Frequently worn, peered through, or ingested to access supernatural powers. Symbol of social influence.
Thoughts: something or someone with such high social status they can get away with just about anything/ an otherworldly stone with powers not known to the one who possesses it/ looks normal on the outside but contains an entire world/ has power and influence over those who desire to have it/ preys on less fortunate
· Texture card: BIOLUMINESCENT – Light emitted by a living organism
Thoughts: something not often seen on land/ deep water/ difficult to understand when discovered/ needs living organism to have power/ not of this world/ warm glow/ startling to see if unexpected or too dark to see
· Habitat card: DUST BOWL – An abused or overused habitat that is dying.
Thoughts: Scarcity/ post-apocalyptic/ dry/ barren/ minimal resources/ depression/ isolated/ state of mind as well as physical characteristics of location/ survival
· Trait card: NEGLIGIBLE SENESCENCE – Lack of Symptoms of aging. Some organisms regress to larval state and regrow into adults multiple times.
Thoughts: immature state of mind/ lacking forward growth/ alien concept/ difficult to understand/ interferes with death/ possibly genetically modified to be used in experiments on living creatures/ possible experiment on life by extraterrestrials/ used as a trauma therapy – concept isn’t used on physical body but mental state/ instead of regress physical form to larval state, regress mind to pre-trauma state – only to regrow and force trauma to return over and over
SO… lots to unpack here...
I start by taking a snippet/thought from each of those idea pools, then I assemble blurbs (not spectacular ones, I’m not holding my breath at becoming a #pitmad world champ) for possible story concepts. The trick is to not force anything. If the cards spark an idea that doesn't necessarily incorporate all the cards, it's OK! If the cards spark an idea that isn't a literal interpretation of the card, it's OK!
Thoughts I took from each card:
Merchant - seller who is not honest about what is being sold
Experiment - Frankenstein & doing something unethical for personal gain
Gem & Crystal - something or someone with such high social status they can get away with just about anything
Bioluminescent - needs living organism to have power
Dust Bowl - isolated state of mind
Negligible Senescence - interferes with death
After discovering the truth about their existence ("cold"/isolation), a man-made humanoid (X) flees helplessly from its home and stumbles into an affluent looking gentleman who promises a true human form in exchange for servitude. X agrees – only to quickly regret this decision - for human nature is often ripe with sinister urges… (nightmare/situation)
Here are a few other ideas that I came up with while keeping the theme "Nightmares When I'm Cold":
In a desolate snowscape that hasn't seen the light of day in over a month, a team of desperate scientists fighting for their lives (and a generous donation) discover a creature that mysteriously emits their much needed warmth and light. But they weren't expecting it to need something in return...
After a seance performed over a priceless family heirloom ends in a seemingly peaceful way, lives in this small desert town start disappearing. But the problem isn't just that they're vanishing, it's the chilling discovery of where they're turning up...
While most of the world is in denial about the current but subtle alien invasion taking place, an elderly pet store owner begins to panic as every creature in her shop starts getting younger and smaller by the hour. As the day comes to a close, a mysterious customer with slightly erratic behavior enters the shop and, miraculously, all pets are back to their previous state. It's not until she locks up for the day that she notices the wrinkles on her face are now gone.
I pulled images of a few cards from each category off the Mythulu app that I thought would work well with a horror theme.
On a piece of paper, write the numbers 1-6, then randomly give each number the letter, A, B, or C (example: 1-C, 2-A, etc...) then scroll down to see your spread! If you don't want it to be random, pick one in each category that sings to you.
There's a LOT more than just 3 cards in each category so get out there & buy yourself a Mythulu deck!
Let me know in the comments what you came up with. I can't wait to read your submissions!