✍ Creative Writing: Tarot for Character Development

Tarot for Creative Writing

Merry meet,

This one is for my fellow creative writers - if you write fiction of any sort and find yourself stuck on making characters (or, even harder, developing those characters into believable, well-rounded people) - why not let your tarot deck help you out?

I’ve been enjoying some creative writing classes where we explore all kinds of prompts and exercises. It got me thinking, tarot cards highlight powerful archetypes and symbolism that have called to the human spirit for hundreds of years. The cards could be a great way to create multi-faceted yet relatable characters :person_curly_hair: :sparkles:

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New to Tarot?

Welcome! :blush: To get the most out of the cards, it is recommended to first familiarize yourself with them. A great way to learn the basics is by taking a tarot course, such as the Complete Tarot Course (free with your Spells8 membership!)


Don’t have a tarot deck? No worries! Here is a FREE Rider Waite tarot deck that you can download, print, and use right now. Let’s go!

Tarot for Creative Writing:

Three Card Character Development Spread

  1. Draw your first card. This card is the character’s want - their driving force.

In a main character, this is the urge that pushes them through the story (and advances your plot). In a side character, this could be their short-term goal within a scene, or the reason they are helping/hindering your main character.

  1. Draw your second card. This card is the character’s need - what the character actually needs in order to have a satisfying end. It may align with their want, but most often, it’s something they are unaware of or unwilling to face.

A character may or may not get their want, but in order for the ending to feel satisfying and complete, the character must get the thing they need.

This card applies to main characters/main cast. It can be skipped for less important characters, especially if they only appear in one scene.

  1. Draw your third card. This card represents the character’s main obstacle - what is preventing them from attaining their want/need.

The obstacle can be anything (or anyone) that gets in the way of the character. By overcoming the obstacle, they get closer to seeing and reaching their need.

For a main character, this is a big obstacle or a villain. For side characters, this might be a momentary problem where they require or refuse the main character’s help.

  1. With a want/need and an obstacle, you have solid bones to build off of. What type of character desires such a thing, what conditions and setting would they be at home in? Where would this type of obstacle do the most damage, thus making the most interesting story?

Use these key character and plot drives to guide the rest of the character creation process, and further develop your world and story :grinning: :open_book:

Ready? Let’s try it!

Example 1: Main Character

Using the above method, let’s make a main character.

I went to the Random English Name Generator and got “Jayden Cooper” :man_office_worker:

Card 1: Want - Seven of Wands
Card 2. Need - Death
Card 3. Obstacle - Four of Swords


Our main character is a successful, proud fellow who is in charge of several businesses. They keep him on his toes day in and day out, always scrambling. If there’s not a problem in one business, then there are problems at home. He’s constantly spread thin, and wishes more than anything that he would be able to better manage everything on his plate.

Although our character fervently wishes to be able to better control his businesses in order to find success, what he truly needs is to let go. There is no healthy way to manage so many little things all at once - he needs to be able to see what is really important: the relationships with his family and friends. This will cost him some things, and some suffering, but in the end, he will be happier and healthier focusing only on his priorities.

The main thing preventing our character from seeing what he needs is that he doesn’t have any time to stop and think - he’s so darn busy, he can’t see anything aside from what is in front of him! After getting in accident, he is sent to a mountain temple to recover - no wifi, no phone, nothing. While there, he is forced to put a stop to everything he was involved in, take a step back, rest, and contemplate on the true meaning of his life.


Example 2: Side Character

Using the above method, let’s make a side character.

I went to the Fantasy Random Name Generator and mermaid names popped up, so let’s do that! The generator gave me “Tamesis” as a random name.

Card 1: Want - Three of Pentacles
Card 2. (Skipping, as this is a side character)
Card 3. Obstacle - Four of Swords (different deck, same card :joy:)

Reading: The main character meets a mermaid named Tamesis - Tamesis is someone who might help them on their journey. It even seems like their goals are aligned - they both want the same thing in the end. On top of that, the mermaid has several connections with the mermaid kingdom that would be helpful to the hero.

Except, Tamesis seems to be lazy - in the hero’s eyes, the mermaid would much rather lounge around on the beach all day, braiding her hair or singing at seagulls. In actuality, she’s trying to recuperate after a tough falling out at home and isn’t ready to go back and face her family.

In order for the hero to overcome this, it’s going to take some effort to convince Tamesis to help them out :mermaid:

Creativity & Writing Magick :writing_hand:

Looking for related spellwork? Here are some additional spells and resources for writers, Art Witches, and other creative souls.

Please make sure you are logged into your Spells8 Account to be able to view all of these resources!

Tarot for Creativity Exercise
Crea-tarot-ivity: A Motivational Card Spell

Magick at the Beach: Writing in the Sand

Affirmations for Creativity, Inspiration and Motivation

Related discussions:

Have you ever written a story?
In the media you enjoy, what/who are your favorite characters?

Feel free to share your wisdom – be it spellwork, writing, tarot, or creative exercises – with fellow coven members in the comments below.

Blessed Be! :sparkles:


This is fabulous, and a wonderful way to use and I think develop tarot skills, even if we don’t have a book in mind. :partying_face:


Agreed! Tarot exercises work the mind to think more creatively - both within the bounds of traditional meanings and outside, pushing the edges of imagination. The more exercises one has available, the more ways they have to develop and build a relationship with the cards! :flower_playing_cards: :grinning:

Thank you Tracy! :heart: :hugs:


This is super neat thanks for sharing it :grinning:


I have thought about using tarot to write a novel for a long time. Just waiting for the right time- full time work, kids, animals, etc is busy enough without adding right now.

This is a cool post. Thanks for writing it!


I’m not a writer, but what a fabulous idea! :purple_heart::purple_heart::purple_heart:


Usually I just write by the seat of my pants, but I may try this! It looks like it could be interesting!


I have considerable difficulty writing a god bad guy. My bad guys tend to seem pathetic- possibly because that’s how I see the negative influences in my life. Perhaps it would help if I saw such people through the eyes of the tarot. Thank you for the idea. :purple_heart:


@Devenne It’s my pleasure! :hugs: :heart:

@Phoenix_Rose Some of the best writing advice I was given (and that has helped me tremendously) is that it will never be the “right time” to start your novel. The best time - the only time! - we have is right now. It is so, so hard to carve out even a little time to write, but each and every sentence is a step forward. If you can only write one word a day - do it! It’s the only way it will ever actually get done.

I don’t really have time to write, but I’ve started forcing it into my day. I go with my partner to English class, sit outside, and use the 1-2 hours 2 times a week to write. I can’t do it every day, but it’s slowly adding up. Some days I can’t write at all. Some days I’ll make an email draft and save a paragraph there. Every little bit helps.

I’m cheering for you and wishing you all the best with your future novel, Phoenix - I know you can do it! :heart:

@Mystique Thank you, Mystique! :hugs:

@Amethyst Sounds like you’re a qualified panster! I’d like to be more of a plotter, but I think I’m closer to writing by the seat of my pants too. It’s fun when the characters keep us guessing :joy:

@georgia I was reading various articles on how to develop/make character arcs for side characters (part of the inspiration for this tarot spread!), and I bet there are guides out there for developing villains, too! If you decide to use tarot to help you explore your baddies, I hope it’s a fun process for you - good luck! :blush: :two_hearts:


Yeah, I like to entertain myself with some of the stuff I come up with on the fly! LOL!


Thank you @BryWisteria !!


This is such a cool exercise - I think I’d like to do it just for fun :joy:


@Amethyst If you’re having fun, I consider that a very successful writing session! :grin: :+1:

@Phoenix_Rose It’s my pleasure, Phoenix! :heart:

@MeganB Thanks, Megan! If you give it a go, I hope it works well for you. Have fun and happy writing! :blush:


This is really neet @BryWisteria and as one that like to play with tarot, i will have some fun workjng with this one . Thanks for sharing. :dizzy: :sparkles:


It’s my pleasure, Debra - I hope you continue to have fun with your tarot work! Blessed be :flower_playing_cards: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


This is glorious! Thank you so much for sharing. I will be implementing that want/need/obstacle tarot spread immediately ^_^💕


It’s my pleasure, @AnaRiel! Good luck and I hope the spread serves you well. Happy tarot reading! :heart: :flower_playing_cards: :blush: