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Tarot for Writers Paperback – February 8, 2009
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From the Publisher
Tarot for Writers
This book on reading tarot cards and applying them to your writing will guide you through each stage of the creative process, from fleshing out a premise to promoting a finished work. Enhance your storytelling technique through over 500 enjoyable writing prompts, exploratory games for groups and individuals, tarot journaling, and other idea-stimulating activities that call upon the archetypal imagery and multi-layered symbolism in the tarot.
"A great book for Pagans and writers alike."―Witches & Pagans
"This is a must have for any Tarotist interested in writing―from journaling for his or herself to writing a book―or any writer interested in using Tarot as a tool to unlock his or her imagination."―Tarot Reflections
"One of the best investments you can make whether writing for pleasure or as a professional."―The Tarot Channel
"Kenner does an excellent job in teaching tarot and exciting writers to experiment with a tarot deck. Get this book if you're a writer curious about the tarot and how it can help with your writing."―D.I.Y. Planner
"Kenner does an excellent job in teaching tarot and exciting writers to experiment with a tarot deck. Get this book if you're a writer curious about the tarot and how it can help with your writing."--D.I.Y. Planner
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Now I am teaching classes in Fictional Writing and I wanted information on using a regular tarot for writing or another tarot deck that was specifically developed to enhance creativy. The problem was tarroka went out of bring and the cast now starts at $400 for a USED deck. So, obviously, tarroka was not the answer.
I was perusing tarot books and I saw this book and though, wow this is just what I need. I bought it on my kindle pulled out an old Rider-Waite deck and compared the symbolism and the spreads and the rather practical advice on how to use the spreads to beat writers block.
I do not look at Tarot cards as a form of diviniation but for present images and symbols to fill in a need for a plot or sub plot. This practical guide on how to look at the symbols does translate to other decks that might have different images. Collecting decks so that I have a deck for murder mysteries, horror, high fantasy, etc. This book helps you learn how to look at the guards and provide examples for the most common type of tarot deck.
I do agree with him on one thing. When you start buying your own decks, be sure you get cards that have images on them instead of just a line of symbols in an abstract arrangement.
I am not able to give it five stars because it needs to be better edited. There are times when they are talking about one suit and accidentally put in the name of another suit. But still a great tool for insight into how to use tarot cards to get past writers block.
Advanced tarot users will probably be displeased that about 2/3 of the book's page content is dedicated to thumbnail descriptions of every card in the deck--stuff they already know or can find elsewhere in greater detail than this book can provide, but absolutely crucial for writers who don't plan to delve any deeper into tarot than just this one book and need it as a handy reference. Writers, on the other hand, who have no interest (or belief) whatsoever in mysticism or fortunetelling and just want to use the cards as a random story generator will probably giggle like mad at Kenner's new-agey description of the psychic cleansing rituals one should undergo before using them. And they might just outright guffaw at Kenner's completely serious assertion that one should also look to the cards for advice on choosing a publisher and the like.
That being said, the writing advice that makes up the first third of the book is generally solid. It starts out with some basic discussion of card spreads used in fortune telling--not really covering it in great detail, but enough that you can use it for telling your characters' fortunes or generating story plots. Then it goes into more in-depth discussion of brainstorming and writing techniques using individual cards, several cards, or whole spreads. It includes discussion of dramatic structure such as the Hero's Journey or Freytag's Pyramid, with spreads based on them, and suggested writing exercises to try, alone or with a group. This is solid writing advice from someone with workshopping experience, it is easily the best part of the book, and is what makes it worth paying for. She's doing a lot more here than just saying, "Learn what the cards mean, then pick some and write about the meanings." She's getting SPECIFIC, and some of this advice could prove very useful.
As for the last 2/3, the card interpretations, "serious" tarot users can complain they're fairly basic or simply disagree with her interpretations (and as I've seen from the other reviews here, a number of them have) but you have to bear in mind who the book is meant for. Serious tarot users already know for themselves what the cards mean, so they don't need to bother with Kenner's descriptions, but they still ought to get their money's worth out of her writing advice. However, writers who don't plan to go "seriously" into tarot don't really need more than what's here. And with the emphasis Kenner places on various mythological archetypes, and the way she ties each (Major Arcana, at least) card to an aspect of writing helps bring home to writers the rich metaphysical and mythological symbolism inherent in the cards. And if you're writing rather than fortunetelling, what more do you want?
And one fairly clever thing, I thought, was that Kenner points out writers don't need to limit themselves to the "official" meanings, or even her specific interpretations of the cards. If they want to write about some element of the background art, or use the card's description for a play on words that has little to do with its symbolic meaning (e.g. instead of writing about "stagnation," having characters go to a bar named "Stag Nation"), they can. The important thing is what inspires you, and there is no "doing it wrong" when it comes to being inspired.
Of course, if you want to use tarot cards in writing, and you know how to write already, you don't HAVE to buy this book. You could just read The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by the man who INVENTED the modern tarot deck (and available free from public domain sites everywhere) to learn what the cards mean, then pick some and write about the meanings. But if you're looking for decent writing advice crossed with a good introduction to tarot, and don't mind ignoring the bits you don't like, then Tarot for Writers could be the book for you.
There were some minor annoyances, such as a few typos and places where one card was referred to by the name of another suit. And I really don't like the way Kindle books are fully justified; I wish it was DRM-free so I could run it through Calibre to give it left-only justification. And in terms of flipping back and forth to check out what each specific card in a spread means, it might be more useful to have a paper copy of the book instead. But all in all, I think it was worth the $10 I paid for it.