1. What is this?
2. The Questions to Ask and how to play.
3. Printing and folding instructions.
Feel free to skip to the section you want right now. You can read this in any order.
What is this?
Some of you may remember this paper sculpture game from elementary school. When we did it, we wrote the name of four boys on the outside (see the big red hearts), then numbers on the inside, and sometimes more boys on the inner triangle, or sometimes fortunes. We called it a fortune-teller, but you may have more luck googling it if you look for “cootie catcher”.
I made this particular version for Eight Ladies Writing, and it’s supposed to help you pick a lane for a plot point – where is the first kiss in your romance story? Once you know your main character’s name and the setting, a lot of things grow organically from those starting points. You can use the ideas here, or make up your own. I think a hand-written fortune teller is the most charming way to go, and allows for custom options, but a printed version occupies my stupid thinking brain and lets the Girls in the Basement go to work on their own. Be prepared to write after making one! Who knows what those Girls come up with while sifting through multiple possibilities.
How to play and Questions to Ask
First, make, cut out and fold your fortune teller. (See section three if you don’t know.)
This game works well with a partner, but you can do it yourself, especially if you are spatially challenged and forget which outcome is connected with which number.
Put your forefingers and thumbs in the cups of the fortune teller. Bring all the points of the cups together. Spread your forefingers and thumbs to open the fortune teller. This is Move 1. Pinch your forefingers and thumbs together to close again, then twist your wrists outward to open the fortune teller in the opposite direction. This is Move 2. Repeat as necessary.
Question One: What is your main character’s first name? The main character is the one who drives the story, and choosing the main character is the first step to molding your story; bestowing a name on your character also shapes that character in all sorts of practical and mysterious ways, so getting these two items sorted out is an important step in moving your story forward. Spell the character’s name, while opening and closing the fortune teller (one move per letter). End on the last open position so you can see the numbers inside.
Question Two: How many kisses do you want? “You” being the main character, of course. Is your character starved for love? Do they only want one kiss? Or do you want to modify the “1” to “0” because you’ve got an enemies to lover trope going on? Sorry, you can’t do that – it would make it impossible to play the game. But it’s important to know. (Modify the question, instead. How many slammed doors do you want? Or something relevant to your main character.) Counting the numbers slowly, open and close the fortune teller (again, one move per number). End on the last open position again.
Question Three: By this time, you know a little bit about your MC and the love interest, so I’ll let you decide on your own numerical (1 through 8, or possibly 1 million through 8 million) question. “How many fucks do they give?” was my first thought, but you can definitely change it to something more family friendly. “How many aunties does MC have?” is a favorite trope of mine. I like a lot of community in a romance.
After you decide the number, gently peek under the flap and see what you get.
For example, I like Mike. 1-2-3-4. How many kisses does he want? Oooh, about 7. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. How many ex-girlfriends does he have? Let’s say 5! Open Sesame, Mike and Angie have their first kiss on a boat, and wow! How did they get on a boat? Whose boat is it? How the heck are they getting off Mr. Dangerbridge’s fifth luxury yacht in as many years without alerting the Dobermans? (The Dobermans are the caretaking couple.)
How to Print and Fold
How to print: I think all you need to do is copy the image to a document, pull it out to enlarge as big as you can (I recommend A4 paper for adult fingers), and print. Take care that you don’t accidentally skew the ratios and wind up with a rectangle. Or, if you are going the Etsy-Betsy hand-drawn version, make a square piece of paper, fold and then fill out the squares and triangles as above, with as many modifications as you’d like.
How to fold: White side up. Fold into a triangle, then fold again. Open up, and with the white side still up, fold the corners of the square into the center along the lines. Flip. Again, fold the corners into the center, hiding the ultimate outcomes. Hello, numbers! Fold into a rectangle (numbers to the inside), then open and fold into another rectangle. This will give your creases between the heart squares. Hearts side up, gently work your fingers under the hearts, and push it together to get your 3-D fortune teller.
Ugh, you know what? A video is worth more than 170 words, that’s for sure. Here’s one that teaches you how to fold and play a fortune teller. Let me know if it doesn’t play in your country.
How about you? What possibilities do you have in mind for your first kisses in your WIP? Feel free to share even if they are a done deal – kisses are great, and the first one is very special!
I remember those things. What a fun way to plot a first kiss.
(-: Now that I think about it, it might have been one of my first exposures to romance and storytelling.
I’ve never heard of a fortune teller! What a fun thing to do for a pajama party or writers retreat!
It makes an excellent party game, and if you copy the template, you can adjust it as you would. Use it to “pick a hero” or “pick a genre” — another way to make it more fun is to create several, and have people interact with everyone (in a small group) to get different parts of their story determined. For the outer squares, any spelling item will do — author names, or even “love, money, brains, muscles”. Things that could prime the pump, so to speak! The handwritten ones don’t take that long to make, and I’m sure other writers will know this game . . . it’s quite popular amongst Japanese kids, too, so I suspect it’s world-wide.
What fun, Michaeline. This is great. I can’t wait to print out your beautiful fortune teller and give it a try. Perfect for my NaNo planning.
Oh, I’m glad! It might be nice to have one for each week of NaNo, just to provide a little boost of inspiration. I’m not sure what the other categories would be, though. Inciting incident for week one? First kiss for week two, or is that too early? Dark moment of the soul. That seal-the-deal kiss!
We used to make these at school, though I can’t for the life of me remember what we used to write on them. I haven’t seen one in years. Thank you for the trip down memory lane, Michaeline!
LOL, I remember we’d write down boys’ names for the inner circle; the first time I did it, I had no idea, and a friend asked me (without explanation) to start naming boys! I seem to remember fortunes also being written — with pre-pubescent glee, we’d giggle over stuff like, “You will have 17 kids.” LOL, that seems faintly horrible NOW, but back then, we didn’t know anything. It just seemed ridiculous and naughty and fun.