Elemental Character Spread

Surprise, surprise it’s another creative writing spread. Oh, you don’t find that surprising? πŸ˜‰ Anyway, this one is designed to help you explore your characters and it’s based on the elements: spirit, air, fire, water and earth. See the layout with descriptions below.

Elemental Character Spread

#1 – Spirit – This card looks at the character’s essential self or their core personality. You could also look at this as their highest potential, so the person they will grow into by the end of the story. Another way to interpret this card is the character’s destiny or calling.

#2 – Air – This cardΒ  shows the character’s mental state, what is on their mind or what they are worried about. It can also reveal character traits like sharp wittedness or cunning or anything related to what is going on inside their head.

#3 – Fire – This card will tell you how this character acts. Their relationship with action or their general mode of operation. Some questions you can ask when reading this position include how motivated are they? Are they moving or inert? Do they act emotionally, rationally, impulsively, with wisdom? Do they tend to lead or follow?

#4 – Water – The card of water will show you the emotional state of your character, what they are feeling, how they interact with their emotions or what role their emotions play in their experience. This card can also speak about their internal experience, what they hold in, what about them is unseen by others.

#5 – Earth – Here is where you can suss out logistical aspects of your character, job, appearance, their position in the physical world, their day to day experience. It also looks at the environment that they exist in or the social/societal constructs they have to navigate.

Spread Variation:
Feel free to use more than one card for each element. If you like to work with pairs of cards or sets of three, you can draw 2 or 3 cards per elemental position. This can also give you a bit of a timeline in terms of how the character grows and how their relationship with the elements change as the story progresses. I would perhaps only use one card for the Spirit position because as “essential self” or “destiny,” this is unlikely to change…but that’s just how I would do it. As always, you do what seems most right for you.

Before I let you go to scribble your creative hearts out, I wanted to let you know that I am teaching a tarot and writing workshop on April 25 from 7-9p. Here is the link to the event: Using Tarot to Prompt & Plot. If you are local or visiting the Portland area, I would love to see you there.

For the time being this is an in-person class, but I may adapt it to an online workshop in the future if there is enough interest, so please let me know if that is something you would like to see so I can gauge interest.

Enjoy the spread and have a great weekend y’all.

Get in the Flow With This Tarot Writing Exercise

writing with tarot

I use tarot in conjunction with writing a lot, as in all the time. One practice that I really enjoy is this simple stream of consciousness exercise. I came up with it last year in preparation for NaNoWriMo. You can use it for personal journaling or creative writing, fiction, non-fiction, whatever you like. It’s also great with morning pages if you follow that practice.

Begin by setting a goal for yourself, 20 minutes, 3 pages, 1000 words, however you would like to measure it. I usually go for 3 pages, but I encourage you to pick the parameters which sound best to you.

Now as I said, this is a stream of consciousness exercise, so the plan is to write and not stop until you hit your goal, whether it’s in minutes, pages or words. To start the exercise you draw a card from a freshly shuffled deck. Use the image in that card as inspiration to get your writing started.

Here are a couple ways you can use your card to inspire you:

  • Describe the scene and don’t scrimp on the details
  • Write about what might happen next
  • Give one of the figures in the card something to say
  • Write some commentary about what appears to be going on.
  • Zoom in on a small detail in the card and write about that
  • Take on the persona of a character in the image and write from their perspective.

For personal journaling you can equate the image to something that is currently on your mind or something that you are struggling with. You might consider what about the card image you find inspiring or bothersome.

Obviously these are just a few of endless possibilities. The important thing is to get that pen moving or to make those computer keys dance. πŸ™‚

tarot card reading for creative writing

Write until you feel yourself beginning to slow down or get stuck, then you draw the next card from the deck and use that as fresh inspirational fuel so that you can keep writing. Continue doing this, whenever you start to loose steam, pull another card, until you reach your goal.

It’s interesting because sometimes when I write my 3 pages I end up only drawing 1 card. I feel inspired and I never run out of things to jot down. Other times I’ve needed 3 or 4 cards just to get through 3 pages. It’s actually more fun when I need 3 or 4 cards, which brings me to an alternative possibility for how you could do this exercise…

Instead of pulling a new card when you start to loose your momentum, you can plan when to pull the next card. For example, you could draw one at the beginning of every new page, or at 5 minute intervals, or every 500 words. You’re still writing continuously, that’s the whole point, but you’re regularly adding a new bit of inspiration. It’s like building up a fire. You add a new log regularly to get it burning nice and steady.

That’s it, pretty simple, but very effective.

I hope you enjoy the exercise and if you try it out I would love to hear how it goes. Write on!


Interested in other ways to use tarot with writing? Check out all my creative writing posts here.

The Fool Speaks

I wrote this short piece right as I was about to make a very large, very significant, very scary personal decision. In the end I did choose to leap, and while I’m still navigating the aftermath of that decision, I know it was the right one.

The Fool - The Osho Zen Tarot

“The wind whistles in my ears as I inch towards the edge. My stomach churns as I get closer. I can see the drop, the rocky shore far below. Why does every cell in my body scream to take this leap? If I jump won’t I certainly fall to my death? What if I die…but what if I fly instead?”

Three Card Creative Writing Spreads – Part 2

Greetings fellow writers and tarot lovers,

coffee and writingIts time for another batch of tarot spreads designed to assist us with our creative writing projects.

For today’s post I decided to focus on character development. Character development can be crucial, especially in longer works. The more you know about and develop your characters, the more their actions, choices and narratives take on an organic flow. Sometimes characters take on a life of their own and they will tell you what what they would do next and you just have to transcribe. That’s when the writing process really gets magical.

A little caveat, you can of course spend too much time on character development and never actually get around to writing the story at all. Be mindful and don’t feel like you need to know every tiny detail before you can start writing your story. Often characters will reveal things about themselves along the way too, so while you can get the gist of your character with these spreads, allow room for some natural development as well.

A caveat to the caveat: I ended up with an entire second story because I got so caught up in writing back story about a character once, and we wouldn’t have the Silmarillion if Tolkien didn’t love to extensively develop his characters and story environments, so if you get carried away during character development it could also be a really good thing. As in all things, know thyself. Know when thyself is just procrastinating, and know when thyself is on a roll. πŸ˜‰

Basic Character Development Spread

Basic Character Development Spread

One way to do this first spread is to use only the court cards, but using the entire deck works just as well.

Card #1 – Personality: This is one of the character’s core personality traits. Its likely the most dominant one, or the one that they show to the world and express most externally.

Card #2 – Strengths: This card represents a skill or trait that the character has which is helpful or useful to them throughout the story.

Card #3 – Weaknesses: Weaknesses represent traits or tendencies of the character which get in the way, create obstacles or undermine a character’s success. It can also point out an area where the character may need get help or assistance from another character.

Antagonist Development Spread

Antagonist Character Spread

A lot of the time the antagonist in a story is the most fun to write. Its a chance to let all our shadows come out to play without any real world consequences. This spread focuses on getting below the character’s facade and seeing what sneaky, devious mischief they are really up to. *evil laugh*

Card #1 – How this character appears on the outside: This is the face your antagonist shows to the world (or other character, you can certainly use this spread for characters other than a strictly identified “antagonist” and this can be a good way to examine the many facets of a character.). This is what they want everyone to see. This is how they intend that everyone perceives them. This card will tell you if they are overtly antagonistic, passive-aggressive, or trying to pass themselves off as one of the “good guys”. Maybe its the armor they wear as emotional protection.Β  It could be an idealized version of themselves which they project out into the world.

Card #2 – How this character actually is on the inside: This is the truth beneath the mask of Card #1. This is who the character really is. This likely represents a part of themselves they are trying to hide, either intentionally or unintentionally, either to achieve their own antagonist ends or out of shame.

Card #3 – Hidden Motivation/Ulterior Motive: This card tells you what is driving the character’s antagonism and what their hidden agenda is. It represents what’s in it for them and what they are trying to secretly achieve (or maybe not so secretly).

I hope you enjoy these spreads and that they inspire dozens of interesting characters to populate your writing.

(If you liked these spreads check out my Basic Plot Development Spread and my Three Card Creative Writing Spreads Part 1)

Until next time…Write on dear friends πŸ™‚

Three Card Creative Writing Spreads – Part 1

Eight of Pentacles The Steampunk Tarot

Well Met Tarot Friends,
This is another post for those of us who are writers as well as tarot lovers…or for any writers who find the idea of using tarot to enhance their writing, intriguing.

My Plot Development Tarot Spread was such a hit that I decided to post a couple more spreads for you to try out in your creative writing practice. I actually have a ton of these, so this will be Part 1 and if there is continued interest, then I will post more in the future.

Unlike the Plot Development Tarot Spread, these spreads are short and sweet, only three cards each. Its enough to get your creative juices flowing, without being overwhelming or too time consuming.

So without further ado, here are three 3 card spreads that you can use to inspire your writing projects.


Creative Writing Spread

In general this spread is pretty self explanatory. It just gives you a very broad outline of what your story arch could look like.

Card #1: Beginning – This part of the story is where you set everything up, introduce your characters, setting, situation and conflict or story catalyst.

Card #2: Middle – This section usually involves the meat of the plot. This is when journeys take place, information is gatherer and events occur which either help or hinder the protagonist.

Card #3: End – The end is the culmination of the story, all the elements from the beginning come together and we get some sort of resolution. This can be a grand final battle, a character has an epiphany, they become who they were always meant to be, they defeat the antagonist, the find what they were seeking etc.


3 card creative writing tarot spread

Similar to the first spread, this spread tells you what your story arch could look like, however with this spread we are getting more specific. Instead of a very broad picture of what is going on, this spread gives you ideas about why things are unfolding the way they are.

Card #1: Situation – This card represents the catalyst for the story. It is the things that must be resolved, dealt with, avoided, stopped, changed etc. Essentially, it is the reason that the tale is happening.

Card #2: Challenge – This is what makes resolving the situation so tricky. This is what the protagonist(s) must overcome or do to enable a desirable outcome. It may also indicate the solution to resolving the situation.

Card #3: Resolution – The resolution card represents how the situation is ultimately resolved, or not resolved as the case may be. It illustrates how or whether the protagonist is successful or unsuccessful or maybe something in-between.


Character Relationship Creative Writing Spread

This spread explores the relationship between any two characters in your story. Notice that the cards are not laid out from left to right like the other two spreads. For some additional insight you don’t have to restrict the character positions to people. You could choose for Character B to be a particular environment and examine how Character A feels about that environment, or you could examine the relationship between a character and their past, or a character and their fear. Its creative writing, all rules are optional. πŸ™‚

Card #1: Character A – This card indicates the personality and attributes of the first character that you are examining, as well as characteristics that may effect how they get along with Character B.

Card #2: Character B – This is the other character or entity that you are looking at. Like card #1, this card explores the attributes and personality of this character, especially in relation to how they react or interact with Character A.

Card #3: Their Relationship – The word relationship isn’t implying something romantic, it could, but its more about how the characters relate to each other, how they feel about each other and how they act around each other. This card sums up what that looks like.

One thing that you can keep an eye out for when you do this spread is the differences and similarities between Card #1 and #2. This will give you additional information about the dynamic between characters. Are they both the same suit? Are they suits that don’t mesh well. Is one a Major card and one a minor card? Are they peers? Do they have a lot in common? You get the idea. πŸ™‚

Well, there you have it. 3 spreads to help invoke the muse. I hope you enjoy and use these spreads. Please let me know what you think if you try them out.

Until next time, keep on writing.

Check out Three Card Creative Writing Spreads – Part 2 for more creative inspiration. I hope you enjoy!