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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Let there be magic! » » An Open Letter to Publishers (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

garett
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Regular user
142 Posts

Profile of garett
I am a magic consumer (aren't we all?), I buy stuff from time to time, and I have a few words that I would really love to express to absolutely everyone and anyone who ever has, will or might publish something.

Consider this something of a "pre-emptive comment card"; a limited piece of information that you can have for free as part of your market research.

I should point out that I tend to favour books over DVDs. I do think that DVDs have their place. For example, learning the classic force might be a lot easier if you can watch someone demonstrate it rather than trying to decipher words. But I find that with books I can quickly flip to something that I need very quickly, instead of having to stop, go back etc. And I also find that books usually give you a LOT more bang for your buck than DVDs (although in the case of one-trick e-books, not necessarily). I would much rather spend $30 on a book that contains a lot of tricks than $30 on a DVD that contains one (those DVDs always make me feel extremely ripped off, and I don't buy them anymore).

Now with that said, I'm going to focus mostly on books, although this can certainly be applied to some DVDs as well. When I read a book I can't stand when any kind of "patter" is included anywhere. So many people have emphasized the importance of developing your own routines that are unique to you, so why do people publish entire routines complete with patter ? It's a waste of space and time and has often caused me to overlook a really good effect that I have in my library because the patter was so cheesy and opposite to anything that I would ever perform myself, and it distracts from what's of actual value.

Similarly (and I wish T.A Waters (RIP) was still around to hear this), I find it very frustrating to have an 800 page book on my shelf that is filled with amazing information, but everything is named something obscure like "In2ition". What the heck is "In2ition" ?! That tells me nothing about the effect and means nothing at all to anyone but the author. It makes the book, when used as a reference, very inefficient unless I take the time to write my own index or table of contents with a description of the effects.

Ideally the description of an effect in a book should follow something along these lines:

Title: "Thought of card appears in sealed envelope"

Background: Any credits or other relevant information the author would like to share.

Description: Spectator is handed an envelope and is told to verify that it is empty. He is then instructed to seal it HIMSELF. The magician asks him to THINK of a card. Low and behold the card appears in the sealed envelope that was held in the specatator's hands the entire time.

Method: ...

I realize there's probably a market for "routines" that caters to people that were described by Guy Jarrett as "Drug Store Magicians"; those who just want to imitate and copy. But I don't personally seek that material and I find that including patter and routining and presentation in a effect-book makes it bloated, difficult to follow and often times impossible to take seriously.

Which is to say nothing about books about presentation or magic theory. I'm a huge consumer of those types of books as well. But just as I don't read those books for methods or effects, I don't read method/effects books for presentation ideas.

Just my thoughts.
Payne
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Inner circle
Seattle
4572 Posts

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Well, at least when you get around to writing your book(s) you'll have a interesting new format to follow.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Larry Barnowsky
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Inner circle
Cooperstown, NY where bats are made from
4863 Posts

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I've written three hardcover magic books and a fourth is almost complete. I structure the descriptions and explanations as follows:

Title: In addition to the name of the effect I list difficulty on a 1 to 3 diamond scale.

Effect: A description of what the spectator sees

Skills Needed: Sleights needed. Sleights and moves taught in the chapter or prior chapters are indicated as well

Props Needed: What you need to perform. Includes gaffs, apparatus, cards etc. In certain cases, there is detailed explanation on how to make the props yourself

Explanation and Script: Step by step usually numbered instructions with script and patter in italics. Photographs and figures are numbered and placed close to the text that you are reading.

Discussion: References and sourcing done here. Additional explanations such as mathematical based effects and how they work. Substitutions for many sleights described here so for example an effect with a Faro can be done using alternate simpler means. Other hints and ideas.

That's the format I created and continue to use. I don't want the reader to waste their time reading about an effect that by the last paragraph find there is a crucial sleight that they don't find comfortable doing. That's why I put that up front and label the effects on the diamond scale for difficulty.

Larry Smile
JonFrog
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New user
Staffordshire, UK
2 Posts

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I kinda agree, especially about the effect names, I recently was given a copy of 'Pariah' by Daniel Madison (granted I didn't purchase this and probably wouldn't have, I actually won it in my local circle's raffle) but it took me 4 pages (including the cover!) To find out what the effect and method was.
Dimitri Mystery Artist
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Veteran user
Israel/Ukraine
355 Posts

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Hey Garett,
I believe pattern/presentation is important to be added,

for me a pattern is part of the method, recently I had published several effects and without describing what I say and why, the effect couldn´t be complete. mostly I refer to ¨verbal misdirections¨, psychological touches or key lines, I think the reason is that some magicians, without understanding those points will struggle with the routine and won´t even understand why the routine ain´t working for them, (most magicians only pay attention to sleights).

think about a key sleight in mentalism C****R T**R, the method can be explained in 3 pages and will be comprehensible to every novice, but without knowing the psychology behind it, it will be impossible to deceive anyone (i have seen this case live).
Andrew Zuber
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Inner circle
Los Angeles, CA
2658 Posts

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I think the patter can be helpful in understanding how the effect flows.
I can't say I've EVER seen a script where I thought "Now THAT I'll use!" but it helps me to get the full picture. Stars of Magic includes the patter and while I don't use a single word of it, I think it's one of the most fantastic books ever written. It would be a shame not to read about a trick just because I didn't like the patter. Seems like a very silly reason to skip over something.
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
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