Day 4 of the 30 Day Tarot Writing Challenge: 3-Act Life Spread

Since we’re still in the beginning of the 30-day stretch, it’s a good idea to get a strong understanding of where your story is going. There are some great spreads out there that will take you through the Hero’s Journey, and a great book on Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot that can really be a great tool for getting you through those major plot points.

But sometimes you need just something a little different than looking at one card for the different legs of the journey. Sure a Major Arcana card in the right spot can tell you exactly what your MC might be going through, but as beings, we  (hopefully) have more than one thing going through our head to make us multidimensional beings. We are creatures who experience emotions, who have home lives, professional lives, and have passions.

Thus, to keep this all in perspective, I have a layout that helps map out the transition of each of these aspects in your MC’s world.

Full disclosure, I did adapt this from the 3 Month Outlook Spread (I think I originally had this written down from Holistic Tarot, but I don’t entirely remember if it was that, or Pinterest). But, it works just as well for 3 Acts as it does for 3 months.

30 Day Tarot Challenge Day 4
  • Column 1: Home
  • Column 2: Work
  • Column 3: Love
  • Column 4: Money
  • Row 1: Act 1
  • Row 2: Act 2
  • Row 3: Act 3

The nice thing about this spread is that it is very easily adaptable to be three scenes if you need, or even a beginning, middle and end. You can cut out columns if you need, or change the name to suit something more specific. Dealer’s choice.

Continue on to Day 5: Creating the Mentor

My Accountability

3-Act Life Spread

Act I Summary

3-Act Life

Overall, in the first Act, I can anticipate that my MC doesn’t have a good home life, though has everything he needs in his work life, is walking away from something in his love life, and works damn hard for the money he earns.

Act II Summary


In the second act, I’m seeing this as homeless, lost for work, doing something sneaky with love, and might possibly have a sugar mama for money. I kid! But really, I think this lady is the one who is meant to solve his money problems.

Act III Summary

3-Act Life Spread

In the final act, there is something at home that will present him with the opportunity of a union, but he’ll reject it. He’ll have an innovative application, a new idea that will get him back on track in his work life. I think he’ll reject any form of love, or at least, his love life will involve traveling, or he’ll flit. Finally, in the money world, there is something that is going to hold him back.

This is just the world-building for the MC’s direct world. However, through this spread you can map out the evolution of each of these areas of life.

Home – Act 1 – Act II – Act III

In the beginning I got the 10 of Cups reversed, which kind of conflicted with what I had set up through the family. In the family situation, I had them getting along quite well, and for the most part all of them quite happy. I know, it might contribute to the Mary-Sue thing I talked about earlier, but I liked that he had a good background to get him started off with. It kind of makes the fall that much harder when I knock a character down.

But then I started thinking that the home doesn’t necessarily correspond to family. It’s where you create your family, or where you’ve come from, but you can have a home without having a family there. I realized that he’s living in an empty house.

Act II yields the Ace of Pentacles reversed. So I have one of two things that can be happening:

  1. He’s adventuring and thus doesn’t have a home because he’s adopted a nomad life for the duration of the story.
  2. He’s not paying any money toward a home, and thus loses it. But then again, if he’s wandering around adventuring (which I’m still not sure if he is or not), then he wouldn’t know that to be the case. Thus, it’ll probably be option 1.

The final act is the 2 of Cups reversed. I felt that there was a union there that was being rejected. I wasn’t quite sure where to go with that, until I got to a point later on in the spread.

Work – Act I – Act II – Act III

In my first act, he’s doing pretty well at his job. I mean, the whole call to action is because his boss wants to sell him the business and he has to come up with the money. But at the end of the day, his boss wants him to buy the business because it’s a good fit, because my MC is good at what he does.

The second Act is the Fool reversed—my MC got himself into a stupid situation and doesn’t know how he’s going to get out of it. Work is suffering, if existing at all, and he’s wandered way off the mark.

In Act III he returns with the Ace of Swords. I haven’t quite decided what that’s going to represent though, but it’s positive whatever it is. Either it’s literally going to be a sword that fixes everything, or it’ll be some brilliant idea. Or maybe it’ll be a brilliant idea that is sorted with a sword—still working on it.

Love – Act I – Act II – Act III

This is where I figured out what the 2 of cups reversed was in Act III of the MC’s home situation. In Act I, I got the 8 of Cups reversed. My MC is walking away from a situation, but isn’t happy about it. I figured that he got paired up during his partnering time (remember, the one big thing to know about this world is that they have end dates on marriages to keep people rotating through relationships) and his partner died. It devastated him. Legally, he then has to have a partner chosen for him so that he’s paired up, and he knows it’s coming.

Act II gave me the 7 of Swords reversed. Considering that he’s already having sketchy dealings with the lady in the garden, and she’s from a background in which she doesn’t want to get married at all, and he doesn’t want to marry this other person who he doesn’t know who it is, they scheme up something to avoid this situation as well. I feel like it might be cliché to say they’re going to get married so they don’t have to be married to people who want to actually participate in a marriage, so I’ll have to come up with something more creative.

Act III is the Chariot—he lights out of town. He’s not sticking around. He is going to find his own way, and thus there comes in the rejection of the union in the home life (2 of Cups reversed).

Money/Wealth – Act I – Act II – Act III

In Act I, which completely corresponds to his workaholic tendencies, I got the 10 of Wands. He works hard for his money, and might even have more than one job in an attempt to get ahead of the game.

In Act II there is the Queen of Wands. I’m torn as to whether I think this will be a literal woman (perhaps the lady in the garden), or if it’ll be a pursuit of passion which yields well, or at least looks promising.

Act III is interesting, and I’m not too sure what to doe about it. It’s the 8 of Swords. I can take it at face value and put him in a situation in which he’s tied up with eight Swords around him, or I can create a situation in which his own mind is binding him, and whatever it is that’s holding him up is connected to money.

Though, that being said, considering that at the end of the book, there has to be a big choice that’s made, and the first half of the book’s theme is money, then it might make sense that this thing that is binding him is his own indecision about what he needs to do in this situation.

How is your cast going? How’s Camp NaNoWriMo going?

Keep me posted in the comments on how your story is evolving, even if you’re not doing the spreads. I love to hear writers’ WIPs.

Here are a few helpful links: