How many of you are using divination when searching for inspiration? If you aren’t doing it yet and your religious beliefs don’t scorn these methods, you should give it a try. For me, divination opens up the world of ideas, subconscious notions, and bugging problems waiting to be solved… no, not really, but put in writing.
This is a very simple method for Tarot cards I invented on the fly, when I was looking for a three-card spread instead of the old “past-present-future” thing that never works for me.
So here comes The Character Spread:
This card describes the character - the essence of his personality at the present time. (Or her personality. Don't go all politically correct on me, "he" is a normal word describing something that could be any gender.)
It can also describe: his social role, a position he has gained, recognition or any other kind of social mask that overwhelms this personality.
Or: the overwhelming emotional state the character is having.
This card describes the situation the character is in.
It can be a test for this character, something he encounters and has to deal with.
It can (and more often is) a situation which has shaped him into the being he is now, the "basis" or "surroundings" of the first card.
This is where the character wants to be.
Or, more likely, who he wants to be.
Or what he wants/desires/has to do.
At any case, this is more of an inner drive than outer one (outer drive would most likely show up in the second card).
I am casting a handful of these, jotting down shorty-short character descriptions as I go, shaping my world along the way. This has been really helpful in overcoming the initial writer's block (a.k.a. fear of beginning something Big) and might develop either in some short stories, even if for training purposes only, or in a cast of characters for a novel. Of course, not all of these characters work, but even if a half of them does, hey, it's a great start.
If you're unfamiliar with the Tarot but are interested, I can suggest this site as a good starting point.