Fiction Magic card “tricks” help writers raise the stakes in their writing with phrases like “Alienate an Ally” and “Remove the Moral Compass.” The guidebook provides possible interpretations for each of the 54 cards, followed by creativity coaching “tips” to help writers apply the cards’ messages to their writing lives. It’s like having two decks in one!  

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 & 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.

A few 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.

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?