Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner – Book Review

I’ve always loved the idea of mapping out a plot and getting to know your characters with the tarot. Although I haven’t found it necessary to do so for myself, I must say that this book is perfect for aspiring tarot readers and novelists alike.

The style of writing is quite breezy, descriptive yet uncomplicated and inspiring. You’re introduced to the tarot, including a slice of history behind the seemingly mysterious cards, before moving on to simple as well as complex spreads that focus on everything that makes a story.

Even if you think it’s all woo-woo, the tarot can still be a creative and useful method to reflect on characters and situations, especially if you encounter the old writer’s block. Like the book says, the cards are more than ink and paper; they embody archetypes that represent different aspects of life. It’s full of examples and exercises that show how you can apply their meanings.

But the author is doing more than just picking a few cards and telling you to write about them. She discusses story structure, including Freytag’s Pyramid, and the common literary theme that is the Hero’s Journey. She also addresses setting and description, and it’s all complete with tarot comparisons and practices to aid your writing adventure.

The book includes a basic guide to tarot symbolism, but rather than simply provide general descriptions, it points out significant symbols in the illustrations of the traditional Rider-Waite deck. I appreciate the attention to detail here. Something else I particularly like is the encouragement toward developing your own meanings. I’m not so sure about the claim that there’s no right or wrong way to interpret, though. You have to learn the rules before breaking them, but perhaps that is what the book is suggesting.

I’ll admit that some ideas and suggestions are a little impractical, at least for those without interest in mysticism. There are meditative rituals to cleanse, center, ground, and shield yourself prior to reading the cards and/or writing, along with talk of “energy” that the New Age movement has basically trademarked at this point. The former isn’t so bad, I suppose, if you want to try disciplining your mind and cultivating a space for inspiration with the help of placebo.

Another iffy idea that the book proposes is using the tarot to divine a publisher and your book cover and whatnot. You should always do research about a publisher beforehand, even if they give the green light to your literary agent (assuming you have one, which you should also consider if you’re going the traditional publishing route), and read the fine print of a contract very carefully.

Unless they’re pursuing self-publishing or maybe get a deal with a small publishing house, aspiring authors never get a say in the design of their book covers. Publishing is a business, so it requires a team of people with experience in areas such as editing, designing, formatting, and marketing in order to make the most of a book’s potential.

This book is otherwise packed with insight and information that new tarot readers and writers, even the more skeptical of the latter, will find useful. The author does an exceptional job of using the tarot to discover the characters and worlds in our heads. If I’m ever in need of story ideas, or if I happen to come down with a bad case of writer’s block, I’ll be sure to confide in the cards.


4 full moons out of 5

Say the Magic Words