Card Deck for Writers

If you’ve known me awhile, you already know I consider myself more of a teacher than a writer. My masters degree project 25 years ago was on teaching writing, and I’ve taught teachers and writers of all ages ever since. And when I discovered I could teach adults the same way I taught kids, we all learned more and had a much better time!

Face-the-FearFor years, one of my teaching tools has been a deck of cards. It was a homemade, laminated deck with prompts that worked for any part of a manuscript from beginning to end, and any process from idea generation to revision. I wore out that set with writers of all ages at conferences, classes, retreats, and workshops. After a zillion requests for copies of those cards, I’m finally putting them together in a really cool deck with a booklet. I’m so excited (and terrified)!

FICTION MAGIC: Card Tricks and Tips for Writers

Fiction writers are troublemakers. We create characters and get them in trouble. We’re also magicians. We pull rabbits out of hats, heroes from certain death, and stories out of thin air. We make magic by making trouble. Fiction Magic.

Fiction Magic is all about keeping the tension and conflict present in your stories. Fiction Magic cards have prompts like “Alienate an Ally” and “Disguise the Bad Guy.” 54 cards—wouldn’t you like to play with a full deck? (Sorry…) The booklet has an entry for each prompt that contains tricks and tips.

Fiction Magic tricks may inspire new ideas, provide insights into revisions, or move you through blocks. The tips are a bit of creativity coaching which help apply the card’s message to your writing life. I can’t help but throw in a little creativity coaching whenever I can. (Check out my “Creativity Cafe” page on Facebook.)

So, yeah (as my daughter would say). The tricks intensify the tension. The tips reduce it in you.

Big breath…

But actually making the cards? Scary. So I decided to test out the idea one more time.

But first, I took a big gulp, spent almost $200 getting ONE prototype of the deck, and used them in a workshop I taught at the Oregon SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers & Illustrators) retreat. Wow. But before I share a few responses to the cards, here’s the artwork on the backs of the cards…

Antares1The wonderful artwork is by the amazing Denice Lewis.

Loved these tweets from the Oregon SCBWI Regional Advisor Judi Gardiner and Agent Jen Rofe’…

@SCBWIOregon Because of Deb Lund @deblund wonderful workshop I found a “Unspoken Truth” that had to be spoken, Now the story is flowing!!!
11/25/13 3:17 PM
Writers — I *highly* recommend you get to know author and teacher Deb Lund. She offers excellent advice on writing. @deblund @scbwioregon
11/24/13 9:55 AM

And a few other comments…

“In the first five minutes of your presentation I had solved the issues in my novel.”  Writer

“Anyone who does NaNoWriMo needs this deck!” Author

“When I read a book on writing, it takes about 200 pages before I learn anything I can apply to my writing. I can use your cards instantly.”  Award-winning YA author

“I want all my writers to have your cards.”  Agent

The exuberant responses reminded me of using that beat-up earlier version of the deck with an MFA in Writing for Children workshop. The participants kept writing down all the information on the cards instead of doing the exercises. They didn’t want to miss any of them. They kept asking me for the list and begged me to make decks for them.

One of those DUH! experiences. They’re who you’ll need to thank if you get to use the deck yourself someday.

Okay, all this to say that I will be doing a Kickstarter project in the new year so I can fill all the orders. I’ll keep you posted.

Risk-it-AllHere’s the card “trick” and “tip” for this card from the booklet text (you’ll understand why I picked this one):

Your characters’ dreams or longings mean everything in the world to them. What would shake them up enough to risk their dreams? For whom or what would your characters take big risks? This is where ethics, values, pride, or safety could come into play. Game-changers come along, and characters have to think twice, or maybe several times, before continuing on their journeys. Or maybe risking it all is what initially sets their journeys in motion. At some point, an all-or-nothing risk is taken.

           How long have you waited to realize your dreams? What would you risk to make them come true? Risk even more. List all the reasons to not try, and then determine how many are based on fear. Take the risk. To not try is to fail. Try.

Risk it All

And so I will…

How about you?


  1. I need to buy one of your card decks when they’re available! Your post resonates with me a lot. I was blocked by fear, then identified it, and am writing again–it’s such a relief, and fun, and a risk too, but very worth it.

  2. Wow, Deb! These look so cool–way to go!! I can’t wait to support them on Kickstarter, and to share the word. :)

  3. I think this card deck is an awesome tool for fiction writers! And your Kickstarter project is really going to rock. My pandy sense tells me so.

  4. Judith Gardiner

    I’m already standing in line for my set of cards! Can’t wait.

  5. Hi Deb!

    I want a deck and so will both of my writing groups. Please let me know when you get Kickstarter in motion.

    Good luck! This is a terrific idea.


  6. Judi Nyerges

    Me! Me! (This is me squirming in my seat waiving my arm in the air) Me! I want a set right now!

  7. Thanks for the giggles, Judi!

  8. Denice, don’t you just love that the artist of these cards has the same name as you (spelled right, too)? At first I thought it was you. She did know about you… Thank you for the support!

  9. Judi, I so appreciate all your support. Where would this be without you? Not happening yet…

  10. Pandy sense has never let me down. It’s always good to follow your pandy sense, or someone else with an even-stronger pandy sense.

  11. I’ll need that support! (And I’ll really appreciate it, too.) ; )

  12. Okay, WordPress, what’s this silly new quirk here? I hit the individual “replies” after these incredible comments, and my responses showed up underneath each person’s comment on the admin page, and now on the site my replies are all grouped together at the bottom?

    Off to figure this out—well, to ask a few who will know… ; )

  13. Hi Deb,
    I’d like a pack when they come out but I’m not sure how incredibly expensive it’ll be to post them to the UK. But fingers crossed it’ll still be affordable. Good for you! All the best, Clare.

  14. I’ll definitely look into that, Clare! Thank you.

  15. Juliana Lee

    These look like fun (and useful too). Let us know when they’re available.

  16. I will, Juliana! Thank you.

  17. Sarah Richards

    I’m not a writer but am a person who constantly creates. Your cards will be useful to many people whether they write or not. After all, we are always creating characters and situations in our lives. I’d love to have a deck at hand in so many moments of stuckness and struggle to help me find the flashlight I dropped. I’m looking forward to their appearance.

  18. Hmmm, Sarah. Love the dropped flashlight thought. I’d say you ARE a writer! (who focuses on other creative outlets, too). But then, creativity rides on the breezes at Lavender Wind Farm!