This is the final card I have to play on defeating writer’s block, and it’s literally a card. Sometimes, when stuck, bored, or creating too much in a short period of time, I’ll turn to tarot, runes, plot dice, or any number of other divining tools to help influence the direction of my story.

I am Christian and I have received a wide array of responses to using this method from I’m practicing witchcraft to I’m not revering the cards as one should. Ultimately, it’s just a method to spike creativity, like an epic movie, good soundtrack, or beautiful woman. I put no higher stock in the tarot deck than I do my plot dice. This is the perspective I have when using runes and tarot cards.

Runes and tarot are very similar methods, though tarot will give a far clearer direction, where runes are broader. Either way, it takes a great deal of interpretation and creativity. While plot dice, and the like, suggest you keep a more open mind, they are far more suited at giving you a direct pathway to take, instead of creating one from a concept or word.

For each character I need or want help with, usually support, I draw three cards or stones. The first is background. This will explain what the character has been through. The second draw is for who they are. It is their current personality and goals. The final draw is for their future. What will be their role in the story as it unfolds and will they find success or ruin. If you only draw from major arcana, you can come up with overall archetypes as well.

When trying to construct a plot, draw as many as you require. Base this on major plot points. Most will have three (beginning, middle, and end), though some will have more. Use each one to just give a loose direction. It’s a great way to get out of your norm and force your mind to break out of your personal cliches.

You will need a book for interpretation, though the internet can be pretty helpful. You can even find kits for free online which will draw the runes or cards for you, without having to buy your own. I like the feel of the real thing. Remember this is a guide. It is not set in stone. For your main characters, I highly suggest you come up with most of their information on your own. However, as a writing challenge, this can be a fun way to flex your creative muscles.

Finally, plot dice (or character, motivation, etc., dice). These are very straight forward, generally very cheap, and give decent direction. The only negative is they only have six sides. While straight forward, and I personally find harder to break into a creative groove, they can still be used to stimulate you in the right direction. As with the cards and stones, you don’t need to use them the way they rolled. If it gets you thinking and moving, go with the motion.

Because sometimes even plot dice require a great deal of interpretation. This is called Story Dice and you can get it on the iPod store.
Because sometimes even plot dice require a great deal of interpretation. This is called Story Dice and you can get it on the iPod store.

For a super challenge, you can do this while driving. Check out road signs, buildings signs, watch people in that creepy way which makes them keep the porch light on at night. Maybe a car triggers it. It is not hard to find the stories surrounding us each and every day. All you need to do is open up your mind to the creative possibilities, and it will naturally cling onto whatever is inspirational. I even do this at work. You might not see it on Monday, but it’s Tuesday. Open your eyes to the events and people surrounding you at your job. What quirks do your coworkers have? How do they react to personal and professional stimulus that is different than you? How can you make them a character? What happens at your work that an average person does not know about, and how can you include it in your novel? Every day is a great day for inspiration.

Good luck in your writing and with your writer’s block! While I have other methods, none of them truly warrant their own post, so this is the last post on the subject. What will I do next time? That’s an excellent question. I seem to be blocked on ideas.


6 thoughts on “Writer’s Block 5: Fortune Telling

      1. I’ve got the basic Story Cubes dice set. They images aren’t often directly relevant to what I’m working on, but the extra stretch to make them fit often helps spark interesting ideas.

  1. I’ve used tarot cards before for Scene Beat Sheets and character development, also make-shift runes for world population information. I did this as an experiment more than anything. My grandmother taught me tarot when I was young, so I prefer to keep it for personal explorations instead, but it certainly is a way to build and develop on a creative project. I like it when I hear people using tarot cards for this sort of thing (to apply to creative writing) because it’s a bit ‘one way or the other’ for studying the tarot itself, which is a poignant journey narrative.

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