I wrote a tarot-fuelled story! The Magic Key, pt 1

For the past few weeks, I’ve been attending a fiction writing class.

It was a complete accident, actually. I through it would be creative writing of all kinds – and wanting to develop my creative nonfiction writing, I signed up.

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At the first session, when Jane – the facilitator – introduced the course contents with topics like character development, scene-setting and plot, and started animated discussions about our favourite childhood books and the elements of good fiction, my initial thought was ‘ooh shit, I’m in the wrong place’. I’ve never had any desire to write fiction, and always assumed I didn’t have the imagination for it.

Then I thought ‘what the hell. I’m here. Let’s see what happens’

I decided to use tarot cards, because of course. Need a character? Draw a card. Put two ‘people’ cards in a room and see how they get on. Need a plot twist? Draw a card. Stuck on someone’s backstory? Draw a card.

At first it was bloody painful. My attempts at natural dialogue were so embarrassing I *literally* burned them. But bit by bit, my confidence grew, and last week, I wrote my first ever (very) short story! It’s about the Two of Swords and The Hierophant and a mysterious key.

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I don’t think I’ve written a great story, but I am chuffed with myself for sticking with it and writing anything at all!

I promised myself that however rubbish/cringeworthy/amateur it was, I would share it here. Because hey, you’re all lovely people and I know you won’t judge, or laugh at me.Or if you do, that you won’t crush me by telling me so.

So here’s part 1 of The Magic Key…

‘What’s this?’

The older woman shrugged. And then she smiled, a big, wide smile full of a real hearty kind of joy and Corrine saw all of her fillings and felt a tiny bit afraid, without really knowing why.

She looked away, dropping the key into the deep pocket of her coat. When weird, witchy old women stop you in the street and give you rusty bits of junk, it’s best to make a fast exit. You don’t want to get drawn in to any of that drama. She turned to leave.

‘I know you’re afraid. But really, there’s no need.’

What was she even talking about? Corrine hunched her shoulders, pushing her thick woollen scarf up further around her ears, and quickly stepped away. She didn’t have time for this.

Later, when errands were done and the house was tidy and there was nothing to watch on Netflix and the cats were fed and out and she felt god damn listless inside, Corrine did something she almost never did. She got back into her coat, wrapped that big scarf around her head and shoulders like a shawl, and headed out.

It was a clear, freezing January night. The pavement seemed harder than usual, the trees seemed more limber, somehow more human. She couldn’t see the moon, but she could feel it, up there, somewhere. She realised she had forgotten her gloves. Where was she even going?

Now there was a question. One that Corrine had been asking herself for ten years, though perhaps ‘avoiding’ would be a better word. After the upheaval of moving north, the razor-sharp loneliness of no goodbyes, the silence of that journey, the emptiness of those first twelve months and the daily effort it had taken to clean away every last glimmer of the south.

She dug her hands deep into those big coat pockets and took a deep breath. And there it was, suddenly in her hand.

It wasn’t a pretty key, like the ornate iron antiques people collect. It wasn’t even particularly big. It was long, silver and tarnished, with a small, hard loop and a roughly-cut, labyrinthine blade. It looked like the sort of key that a caretaker would have on a big loop. The sort that would open up the bin store or the stationary cupboard.

Corrine weighed it in her hand, enjoying the sensation of balance in her hand as she walked, and noticed with surprise how warm it felt against the icy cold of the night.

A drink. That was what she wanted. Which was odd, because it was a Tuesday night and she wasn’t exactly drinker and besides, she didn’t have any friends and what was she going to do, sit in a bar somewhere, all alone?

The key glowed a little warmer. And then… no, it didn’t. Did it? Did it twitch in her hand? Corrine stopped beneath a streetlamp and stared. She felt like she was holding a mouse or a butterfly, something delicate. Something alive. It seemed to be pointing.

She turned and heard music. That kind of scruffy, raw, local-band kind of music that so often you wish would finish so you could just enjoy your pint in peace but which today seemed friendly, comforting, somehow. She grasped the key tightly and felt it’s strange warmth pulse through her hand.

I’ll share part two soon…

Meanwhile, look out for more posts about tarot and creative writing throughout this week!

Do you write fiction? Do you use tarot to inspire your stories? Let’s hear all about it!


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  1. Ellen says:

    Beth this is great It really draws me in and when I came to the end of part one I just wanted to read on. Now that tells me this is good story!!!

  2. Moonstone says:

    Ooh when is part 2? *fingers crossed* tomorrow? I wish weird witchy women would stop me in the street…

  3. Awesome premise, Beth!

    I myself am working on a horror story inspired by the Major Arcana that I hope to start posting later this summer. It involves this eyeball that becomes self-aware and goes on it’s own kind of Fool Journey. Thank you for sharing this, and good luck with all the writing! n_n

    • Elisabeth says:

      I don’t mean to keep mentioning this deck all over the place, I probably seem totally, completely obsessed, but the Tarot of The Silicon Dawn features an eyeball in the fool cards that reappear throughout the Majors and are in the Universe. I just had to mention that after I read your comment about your story, which sounds amazing btw!

      • Well, thank you! That tarot deck has some pretty cool artwork from the images I’ve seen online, but I don’t remember there being an eyeball, lol. That’s awesome! I would imagine though that our concepts are rather different. Still, it’s interesting the parallels we draw through Tarot, isn’t it? Thanks for mentioning this deck. The story will for sure be released on my blog. n_n

  4. Bobby says:

    Loving it Beth… Bravo! I have a 2 year diploma in Creative writing, although it included non fiction too… I loved it, especially the fiction workshops! I have used Tarot to inspire my writing and it is just about the most perfect prompt. If you are keen I think Corrine Kenner did a book called Tarot for Writers… will go Google… hang on… yup here ya go:


    I hope to get back to some writing when I finish my degree, which does involve a lot of writing but mainly academic! My old blog at Ragged Poet has a lot of my poetry in the archives, but I find short stories more difficult so I am impressed! Maybe you should think about NaNoWriMo! A collection of short stories? I would love a NaNoWriMo writing partner to spur me on… 🙂

    Very excited about you meeting Tabby, she leaves NZ for Blightyl on Thursday… but today there is a TV doco about her over here, but not sure if you will be able to see it there.

    Happy writing… keep at it, you have a talent… xo

  5. ahhhhhhh love love love! I have been meaning to do this with the cards. 🙂 I have been a writer since as long as I can remember and am sooo excited to try incorporating all of my crazy loves into my writing. Tarot is just the latest. 😉 I can’t wait to read the second part!

  6. evalyn says:

    Beth, this is fantastic. I’m itching to read more. I want to be the old woman who stops people in the street to give them rusty keys!

  7. This is seriously really great! I did both modules of Write Like a Grrrl in London and it was incredibly helpful to me, kicked me back into writing after avoiding it for two years following a bunch of discouraging events. It is basically the reason why I call myself a writer now. I was excited for you when I read you were doing it, but I didn’t know you had never written fiction before – and I’m so, so impressed with what came out. Also, relating to the point of shivers as I, too, come from the south (bit further south, as in South America) and had a hard time adjusting to the north. Can’t wait for part 2.

  8. chloetarot says:

    Isn’t it amazing what you can do when you push yourself? Love it, Beth, can’t wait for part 2 😀

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