Tarot Writing Exercise

Vision 64

Tarot Writing Exercise

An exercise for open-minded writers


Violeta Nedkova

Copyright © 2011, Violeta Nedkova, All Rights Reserved


I know it sounds funny, just bear with me.

Yes, I’ve been playing around with Tarot cards. It’s something that occupies both my hands and mind when I just need a break. Besides, my friends keep telling me I get it right most of the time, which is funny because I have yet to learn to do it ‘properly’. Basically, I just go with my gut.

Also, there’s another skill that I’ll share with you guys and illustrate why I think Tarot Writing can turn into a useful writing exercise.

See, I don’t ONLY go with my gut. I am also very good at seeing patterns. Being good at recognizing patterns is like being able to string pieces together to make a meaningful whole. Sound familiar? That’s right, it’s what we writers like to call STORY. If nothing else, it’s a Frankenstein kind of entity, patched together out of elements which make little sense on their own. What adds meaning to the botch is being a part of a whole.

It’s alive!

This ability to make sense of random elements has always helped me understand people, motivations, and even predict certain outcomes. It’s not a science in itself but it has been useful, I’m not going to lie.

But how does this apply to Tarot Reading? It’s pretty straightforward actually. You see the cards in front of you, choose a spread to work with, decide on a question, cut the deck (right hand for married, left hand for single), and you’re well on your way to your answers. Whether you believe in it or not doesn’t really matter in this case, trust me. All you need to do is use it as a creative writing device. I do.

And you don’t have to know a lot about it either. Here’s how I do it. I look at the cards –both symbol and picture- and what they represent. Sometimes I come up with various meanings in the different contexts, as it is in life. For example, one card sitting next to another may reflect direct connection, but then something in the past may also relate to the future outcome, and so on. Of course, if you know how to do it ‘right’, I commend you. You’ll do even better at this exercise.

So how can this help with your writing?

We all know how annoying it is to reach that dreaded impasse where no plot device seems appropriate a solution, or when it’s really hard to understand what a character is all about. But it doesn’t have to be like this. With the help of the Tarot cards, the way out will simply present itself to you.

Let me give you an example of how this exercise has helped me.

I’ve been conflicted about a certain character (called Faze) in my latest science fiction novel, and for a very long time, I could not decide where he came from and, most importantly, where he was going. I only knew he was obsessed with my protagonist (called Dora) and that he hated the other ‘main guy’ in Dora’s life. That’s all. I wrote scenes which I later had to cut because something HUGE was missing. So I decided to break out of the box.

I hated the box. I wanted to rip out of it, and the way to do that was an ‘aha-moment’ in itself. Since I enjoy Tarot reading and it takes ZERO effort, why not use it to solve my writing-related dilemma? Obvious, no? It’s basically a very simple way to relax your mind and give in to some ‘imaginary’ entity outside of you. On a conscious level, you know you’re still in control, but subconsciously you might be expecting some external help to ‘guide’ you on your way to the right answer.

So I asked the dreaded question: Who is Faze? Simple as that.

I used the 10-card spread called the ‘Cicero spread’. You can see it on the image below.




Briefly, the upper two cards are what the person thinks on a conscious level. The bottom two cards reflect the person’s subconscious activity, which you can usually determine in the reading if is in accordance with the conscious. The two cards on the right show the past, and the ones on the left – the future. The middle left card is directly connected to your question, and the one next to it sort of connects all other cards. Furthermore, I have found that 6 additional ones –one added on top of each couple- might shed more light to a dubious reading. But no more than that!

For more details, you can go here: http://supertarot.co.uk/spread/ten-card-spread.htm

And here’s what I got from Faze’s reading:


He is strong-willed and strong-minded. Some unfinished business resides on the back of his mind, perhaps halting his advances. Deep down, he knows how to achieve what he wants but he’s not gone there yet. In the past, I see two men: one younger and one older. The younger man is the other character I mentioned. The future will bring dissatisfaction that may be related to a woman (the protagonist?). In the very middle of the spread, I see some power that he possesses, and the Universe right next to it (represented by the Wheel of Fortune). This future dissatisfaction makes me wonder if it’s due to something he’s doing wrong and the Universe is just setting things right by punishing him.


And then it clicked! He’s abusing his power. I kind of knew that already, but haven’t explored it any further than that. Mainly, I have been portraying him superficially, devoid of deeper, darker secrets and intentions as it were; hanging in the story-void with no purpose other than being the bad guy, which is obviously not enough.

What is more, the cards showed a curious trend in his past:

He has been surpassed by one or two of the aforementioned men, and that is probably the reason for his trying so hard in the present. And that’s what’s stopping him and poisoning his judgment in the present.

Ta da!

Of course, now I have to figure out who this older guy is; or I might not use him at all. You get my drift. It’s the beauty of this exercise: complete freedom.

This example, I think, shows that Tarot Reading can be useful for character development. But why stop there? It can help with generating ideas, plotting & outlining, and even world-building!

Anything you need, the Tarot will provide, if you are willing to try.

There’s just one rule: It all must fit together! Do not look at the separate elements; it’ll make little sense this way. Look at how they relate. Look at the whole. And have fun!

If you do not have Tarot cards, why not try online Tarot readings? However, if anyone’s interested in ‘my kind’ of Tarot reading for free on any writerly-type question, you can find me on my blog: http://lynmidnight.blogspot.com We’ll have a blast!

I repeat, I’m no professional. I am not even particularly spiritual. I just like to experiment.

A lot.