Writing Assignment: Write About A Playing Card

by Randy Murray on January 24, 2014

Pick a card. Any card.

The standard deck of fifty-two playing cards is very familiar.  And yet each card from that deck can be evocative, even inspiring.

Playing cards come in many different designs. Some of their designs are very, very old. The four suits, hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades have ancient origins. Even modern designs make connections to these old forms and images.

There are more than a few stories inside that stack of cards. You just have to look for them. Years ago I had a client, one of the world’s top manufacturers of playing cards. I could tell you stories, for instance, about how playing cards during World War II hid escape maps for US captives held as prisoners of war in German POW camps. How the security on cards used in casinos exceeds that of most banks. Of how the cards are made and the special terms of their manufacturing. So many stories.

But you don’t need that inside knowledge to write about a playing card. All you have to do is pick a card and take a good look at it.

For today’s assignment, take a deck of cards and randomly select a single card, face down. Then turn the card over. This card and what you find by examining it will be the subject of your essay.

You can write however you find best, but I recommend this:

First, forget about writing for a moment. Just look at the card. What’s the first thing that you think about or feel? Write that down. Now take a good look at both the front and the back of the card. What do you find there? What do you see when you look closer? Many cards have fine details that we overlook when playing games. What do you see now that you’re looking closely?

Take some time. Perhaps carry your card with you and consider it throughout the day. At some point you’ll likely find yourself thinking about the card. Perhaps a memory or story will come to mind. Perhaps you’ll be stimulated to do a bit of research on what you see on the card. You might become curious about how the card was made, where it came from.

And soon, you’ll be ready to write. If nothing comes to you, write a clean and simple description of the card. But if you are inspired, let that guide your work.

And, above all, relax and have fun. Remember, it’s a playing card. Let’s play a game.

Writing Assignment: Write About A Playing Card by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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