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Profile of CherryMaster
Do Most People Write Down Their Patter?

First time poster interested in examples of actual scripts lasting 2-3 minutes from anyone who has actually written down EXACTLY what they patter to a trick performed on a regular basis.

Anyone willing to share?

Mark Martinez
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Profile of Mark Martinez
Yes I write down my patter and No I don't want to share...

I think that it is important to write down what you are going to say so if you don't do the effect for a while you can refresh your memory, but the biggest thing is, it helps you to memorize the patter you are going to use!

Consistency is the key! Smile

Success comes before work only in the dictionary. - Anonymous
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Profile of CherryMaster
Because I wasn’t clear in my original post (first time poster) let me state that I’m not looking to copy someone’s patter script.


Although I have yet to do it myself, I definitely see the advantages of writing down your patter. I’ve seen references in several books that suggest the necessity of scripting your patter as pretty much a given.

What I’m wondering is:
Do MOST people actually write out a script?

In all honesty, the reason I wanted to see an example is because of some of the replies to other forum questions like “what is a good ‘out’ line?” or “what do you say when someone asks you to do that again”, etc. Some of the responses to these questions are…well…lame. I wonder how polished sounding some of these people's patter REALLY is to be giving advice.

I think what I would really like is an example of someone’s notes on a particular trick…


INTRO PATTER (maybe a line or two you start with)

Remove hanky from left pocket
Mentally identify and pick out spectator for “in the spec’s sleeve production”
Right hand resting on table with thump tip.

FIRST VANISH (note to look into spec’s eyes when doing sleight)


Does anyone do/have ANYTHING remotely like this? REALLY interested in the misdirection aspect as it relates to patter?

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Profile of spatrick
I think that most magicians do write down a basic script to help them master an effect. Once they perform an effect a few times new lines pop up or better moves sometime show themselves that make the effect better. They then may or may not go back to the script.

When I started out I took a page (no pun intended) out of a beginner magic book I read.

The page was basically divided down the center of the page with a vertcal line. The left side was labeled patter, and the right was action.

The spoken lines were written in on the left, and the action/move taken at the same time was written on the right. This was scripted all the way through the effect.

This allowed the performer to work on not only the effect and the patter, but also the timing as well.

S. Patrick
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Profile of jo
Henning Nelms' (what is the book called again?) gives detailed instruction as to how to do this.

If I take a look around me I have to say I don't think that many performers ACTUALLY write down EVERYTHING they are going to do or say. As a beginner I certainly did. Then rehearsed ad-nauseum so that I could remember everything. Although important, it didn't free up my mind to concentrate on presentation/delivery. But I did get into certain good habits.

Now, after a couple of years experience, many things have become second nature so I find myself not needing to be SO specific. BUT, as my understanding deepens, I find myself willingly looking at the more subtle parts of presentations and delivery.

I think, CherryMaster, that one of the reasons to WRITE DOWN and SCRIPT your routines and performances in detail is to give reason for what you're doing, provide the neccessary misdirection, and rapport (hence entertainment) for your audience. It may seem a tedious thing to do, but it helps tremendously in the long-run.

My advice to you would be to keep it simple. Look firstly at the effect the 'trick' is supposed to have on your audience. How will you lead into it? Write down each technical step you need to take, and alongside that plot what you want to say. Question if any of the moves are neccessary - and if they can't be replaced by something simpler and more in tandem with what you propose to do, and with what you feel more natural and confortable with. Allow your personality to shine thru. And then listen to feedback.

I hope this helps. I'll check in my library for the book's name.

CherryMaster, on reading your threads a second time, I feel I might have missed what exactly you were trying to say.

When you actually do write down everything in your routine/act as mentioned by all above, you'll be in a better place to make it second nature - a habit. Once this happens you then turn your attention to actual performance. Let me clarify: A good friend of mine has been performing professionally for the past 30 years. When he does something, IT LOOKS LIKE REAL MAGIC. It has become so ingrained in him that he ACTS as if it were real. And because he is a Magician, the magic is an everyday event to him. He is no longer surprised by it, but yet manages to captivate his audience into believing its real with him. But they are surprised (and entertained by these unusual happenings).
He can make it look so easy and real because he knows what to say, when to say it, and exactly what to do. In other words: CONFIDENCE. And because in his mind all technical aspects have been covered, he can settle into enjoying the experience.

But it won't really help you seeing other's work on this. Their motivation will be extremely different to yours. As I said, keep it simple and keep it YOU.

Oops, missed again! (My mind is not 'IN' this morning).

"What I’m wondering is:
Do MOST people actually write out a script?

In all honesty, the reason I wanted to see an example is because of some of the replies to other forum questions like “what is a good ‘out’ line?” or “what do you say when someone asks you to do that again”, etc. Some of the responses to these questions are…well…lame. I wonder how polished sounding some of these people's patter REALLY is to be giving advice."

Add to my above story of my friend the fact that his presetation now is so clearly defined that there is no place for anybody to ask anything (or indeed see anything). He steers them completely in his environment where he wants them to go. I remember him teaching me his coins across routine. I felt guilty holding out at a particular point in the routine, and voiced my concern "what if I get caught?" He replied that the tempo of the 'trick' was such that the audience would not get a chance to ask anything (or see anything). He was of course right. What I was then experiencing was the technical hic-cup of learning the routine (step by step). Once I had the moves down, then the patter, everything flowed perfectly and there was magic. (I did have to practice this repeatedly under his watchful eye for an entire day - and its all we did!)

Perhaps those that have the need for 'outs' have missed these vital steps. Magic performance is, as I see it, a logical progression of steps that will ensure a certain amount of deceit. In appearing natural you learn to cover your tracks. You are then more free to entertain - which should be your main focus.

We're all just trying to find our feet as best we can.

Now I hope all that answers your question.
flourish dude
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Profile of flourish dude
Writing out your routine WILL take them to a new level. You will find lines you can add and or take out this will smooth out the whole presentation. If fact just take one routine a week, write out and look at it each day. Find something to improve, a easier move, a funnier line, remove a weak line, misdirection. The end result will be a very solid routine. Try to include all the audio, visual and kinesthetic words.

My biggest problem is slowing down and allowing the magic to happen. I count in my mind each time I perform to make sure I have enough time pauses and I still feel like I rush things. The only way to check this is by working through the routine and writing it out then having someone (magician) watch and critic you. Don't miss the magical moment, this is my biggest mistake and by writing your routine out it allows you to analyze it move by move word by word.

Also record yourself audio and video and review them. This will tell a lot about what you doing. I carry a pocket recorder with me and try to review my routines. Sometimes I get lazy but I think this should be done at least every few months. This will keep you "in tune" plus you will pick up things as you perform it. Angle problems, lines from spec's, lines that are not getting laughs ETC. All should be considered as you review the routine.

I work 5 restaurants and I do get lazy and lax with my routines. This helps me keep in check. In fact, time to do it again. Thanks for the push!!

Here are some good resources:

The perfect kids trick: Silly Billy
Perfect Paid Performances: Doc Hillford
Wonder Words: Kenton Kneppert
Leading with your head: Gary Kurtz
Effective Entertainment: Brain Flora (audio)
there is another tape by Duane Laflin not sure the name. I don't have it but I heard it once. Very good stuff
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
Jonathan Townsend
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Profile of Jonathan Townsend
CM96 (et al)

I probably should sit and write/script my stuff.

I don't perform a work until the story and ideas are clear enough for me to put them into words. Then it's off to 'mental rehearsal' until the imaginary performance is close to complete and feels right. Then it's time to get feedback from people about the story.

Once a routine goes into performance, the feedback cycle helps refine the patter and timing. After a few months of use, (say once a week at the office) a routine gets stabilized and seems to settle into shape.

That would also be a good time to get the script written.

I once lost a good coin vanish into a paragraph of poorly written notes on timing and beats for the motions. The timing idea was clearly expressed, just not the sleight. all the coins I've dropped here
Kenn Capman
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Profile of Kenn Capman
I believe that a well written, unique, and engaging script is essential for any effect. Even if you are performing silently to music, your basic stage blocking and moves should be written and notated.

How else can one present a polished performance? The moves and sleights we perform are just a raw product. The presentation is what makes a collection of puzzles and invisible sleights into an entertaining event for an audience.

I'm not against improvising if a situation arises. In fact, some of my best lines come 'off the cuff.' (i.e. they develop and grow as the piece is performed over a period of time)

The point is, that the routine is scripted to a point that I can anticipate when an audience member is likely to jump in. Knowing when that is likely to happen is to be prepared and ready to maximize the moment.

Working from a script also frees your mind up to focus on the audience and the nuances of your performance as it is happening.

If you notice, most theatrical plays are engaging because the characters are believable. This is largely because the actors have rehearsed from a script and they know their character well enough to focus on the minute details during actual performance.

I'm not sure that there is any one true way to script magic (particularly close-up where the audience is most likely to be interactive). However, I am convinced that having a written script (outline, chart, diagram etc.) is critical if you want to make the most of your magic and get the best audience reaction.
"The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents."
- Salvador Dali -
Tom Gaddis
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Profile of Tom Gaddis

Check out the "Ron Bauer Private Studies Series of Performance Artist Scripts For Magicians." You can find them at

Each book focus on a different theatrical technique. You can't beat the price of ten bucks.

"The dumber people think you are. The more surprised they'll be when you kill them."
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Profile of eeesp
I will tell you how I wright my scripts.
Every trick has a script.

Form starts this way.

1. Hook.
2. Drama
3. Climax.

I would realy like to know how others format there script writing.
Greg Owen
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Profile of Greg Owen
In reviewing my scripts, I have found the most successful, for me, follow the comedic structure of setup and punch.

That is, everything that is said or done is either a setup for something else or a 'punch'. The punch need not always be comedic - but I find this structure in my better routines.

My weaker routines tend to include 'canned' patter - which often amount to in-sincere stories. That is, stories that I have no direct experience of. It is more difficult to present these convincingly and I don't bother anymore. I base my show and my scripts on my own experinece Smile

The structure given in the previous post - hook, drama, climax may work for a trick that builds to one final conclusion. I have stunts/tricks in my act that do not follow this overall plot.

So...first is answer the question WHY I want to do this trick in my act. WHY does it belong? It should make sense in context (my shows are generally themed - not just magic shows per se). Also, ask yourself what the audience is thinking. Building script based on this is a good idea - they are all (or mostly) thinking it so use it as a premise.

Example: Spoon bending. Audience might be thinking, "Can't happen." You can script from this. In doing so, you are 'calling' what is happening in their minds and your script will connect directly to your audience.

Just some thoughts...

- Greg Owen
Author of The Alpha Stack ebook - the balanced memorized stack
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Profile of Fredrick
On 2003-07-29 18:52, CherryMaster wrote:
What I’m wondering is:
Do MOST people actually write out a script?

Does anyone do/have ANYTHING remotely like this? REALLY interested in the misdirection aspect as it relates to patter?


What works for me is to divide my page into two sections - the size of each division is personal preference - but I use 2/3 and 1/3. 2/3 is for the script and the 1/3 is for the action.

I also edit the heck out of my scripts. As many say, "less is more.."

I would recommend an article on Eugene Burger's web site on scripts and script editing. Its

Script writing is fun and most importantly, allows you to relax and enjoy performing.

~ Fredrick
"Try to find the humanity in the magic and maybe you'll come up with something of your own. It's the humanity that gets you there, not techniques." Michael Moschen on Creativity
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Profile of TheJames
I like the idea of splitting the page into 2 sections like that (they make law notebooks like this). I like to write out my scripts, but not word for word and then memorize. I write down the essentials, and let everything else just fall into place. So I know what I'm going to say, but no two performances are exactly the same. Sometimes a line won't work, so I don't use it. If you have the patter memorized word for word, not using the line could throw you off. Also, adding lines could throw you off. If you know the basics of what you want to say, you can have fun with the fill in
A wedding? I love weddings! Drinks all around!
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Profile of snilsson
Exact scripting is not something you need very often. But there are places were it is very useful. The security council and professional entertainment are two of them.

Eugene Burger's comment about scripts and timing is very true. If you don't have a script, you can't even begin to work on your timing. You don't have anything to time. For an example of great timing and srcipting go to and listen to the "Phonetic Punctuation" clip. Victor Borge explains the rules of phonetic punctuation. Rule number one to seven is a crescendo with a bigger laugh every time. Rule number eight doesn't get any audible reaction from the audience. This is on purpose since the actual routine is just about to start and Borge want's to start over from ground level. It's all done by timing and scripting. In 54 seconds the complicated rules of the game is explained in the clearest possible way using the minimum number of words. Not only that, Borge makes us smile or laugh seven times.
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