Thursday, July 23, 2015

Two Stories from the Tarot Card Exercise

I created the Tarot Card Exercise last summer for my Yale Writers' Conference elective class Cross-Genre Fiction.

The idea was to mix elements from different genres into one short piece of writing, inviting the writer's intuition to figure out how to interpret and combine them. So, for example, a card that says "the wrong body" could turn into part of a mystery story, or horror, or science fiction, or a love story. "A woman's arm" could appear in a bed, or among leaves in the woods; it could be seen through a car window, or lying on a shelf along with other robot parts. "Sparks" might herald love, spaceship engine trouble, a house fire.

Really when I talk about crossing genres in writing, what I'm always talking about is granting yourself the freedom to follow your own voice, to allow your story to treat literary boundaries the way a wild animal treats the boundaries of state and country.

Since last summer, that exercise has been a favorite with many students. At the Yale Conference this year, two of them turned their 15-minute exercises into published pieces!

Interestingly, both concern altered bodies, trauma, and healing. And both are beautiful. Check them out.

The Glass Eye by Suzanne Samuels

Cross-Genre Body by Tara Armstrong

Mikalojus Ciurlionis, Eternity, 1906

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