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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Once upon a time... » » Want to tell a story...? (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of paradoxmagic
Ok so you want to tell a story with your magic? First of all, good for you! Offering substance to any presentation will already set you apart from the competition. However, it's not as easy as saying, "Once upon a time...".

Whenever you wish to tell a story it is best to begin with an exercise recommended by Jeff McBride:
take a piece of paper and fold it in half (hot dog style)
The left column are the effects you either enjoy doing, or do already
The right column are the things you (as a person) enjoy. Like a favorite hobby or topic you like to talk about.
Simply begin to draw a line connecting effect to topic for discussion in your presentation.
That's step one.

Now comes the hard part... RESEARCH
It's time for you to become an expert of that topic. If you tell tales of history like my good friend Walt Anthony, read books on history within that topic. If its dreams, as I do, study the science (example REM, Consciousness, Unconsciousness, dream waves, body reaction to dreams, so forth) Yes it is daunting, but if it's a topic you really like (remember the list) then exploring these avenues will be fun.

Now the third part... Dieting
Use your new information like a buffet. Decide what is most interesting about your story and make sure it's something that will captivate your audiences. If your material is less than exciting you will lose your audience.

Now the fourth part... Scripting
Write your story down. Forget what the effect is for a moment. Just tell your story. Be sure it's complete and don't worry about whether it's too much. You'd rather cut, than add.

Now the Fith part... The Date
Ok here's where it gets tricky. You've got a great effect, and you know the story you want to tell, how do you "wed" them together?
First determine the magic moment. This is your crucial moment and you don't want the story to overshadow this part.
Talk to yourself, telling your story, while practicing. No date works without first introducing the two together. Let the two meet and get along. Sound woo woo I know, but this is the creative process. Eventually you will find where the story and effect meet

Now the Sixth part... The Marriage
Ok like any relationship there is baggage. It's time to lose it. Find the areas of the story that are the weakest and cut it loose. Tighten your script and perfect your effect.

Now the seventh part... Rehearsal
Even a marriage has a rehearsal dinner. This is rehearsal, not practice. Put on your show clothes, and set up stage at home and perfect your story and magic.

These are the bare bones to story telling and I welcome any questions or comments. But off the bat I am sure you may be wondering, "Why should I do so much research?" Story magic taps into a very special place within the psyche of your audience. It creates a much more lasting impression with your audience. They will automatically view you as an expert of the story or topic you are sharing. The last thing you want is for another expert within your audience to approach you and would like to discuss more about your story of tarot, Chinese empires, politics (very careful here, that's for another topic), or even as I have experienced, San Francisco History or Dreams.

A great recommendation for books is "How Creativity Works" by Jonah Lehrer, and "Tales of Enchantment" by Walt Anthony (this book is intended to spark creativity within your presentations. Many times this book has been accused of offering tales to "outdated" magic. If that's your intention then you're using this book incorrectly. Walt Anthony offers ideas as well as his many years of experience to excite the creativity within your mind.) Bob Neal (need I say more), David Parr (personal favorite is Dinner with the Borgias), and the ever popular Eugene Burger are the many other authors who have artfully welded story telling and magic.

David Miller
"Impossible is not a word...."
David Facer

"Impossible is NOT a word...." TM
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Profile of edshern
Great Post, Thanks for the ideas.
Lawrence O
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Profile of Lawrence O
Boris Wild wrote an entire booklet on how he created (focusing on how the approach can be applied to any routine) his "Kiss" routine that won him a first prize at FISM.

It is accessible in English language.

It overlaps a lot with paradoxmagic's post but gets into much more practical details about the topics raised... and more.
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
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Profile of Siddharta
Very interesting post, thanks.
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Profile of Brynmore14
Great stuff, thanks for Sharing.
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Profile of bluemagic
Thank you for the information.
Ben Seatreader
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The College of Winterhold
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Profile of Ben Seatreader
+1 for dream stories. Thanks a lot Smile
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Profile of george1953
I have a nice effect called Drawn In by Oliver Meech. Its a book that the spectator reads and makes decisions which direct her to different pages of the book, like the adventure books that were popular years ago.
Its a bit like an ID deck routine done without cards. The story is nice and spooky. I think its still available on Lulu for about 39 pounds sterling, well worth a look.
By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.
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Profile of bartleby
Holy cow is this old thread filled with gold. I am glad this rookie found it.
Klas Andersson
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Profile of Klas Andersson
Great post! Thanks for all the information!
Geoff Akins
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Profile of Geoff Akins
What a wonderful template for creating a meaning-full program!

I recently purchased Walt Anthony's Tales of Enchantment (as well as Ben Robinson's The Importance of Wonder, and other similar books) with the goal of immersing myself in the rich tradition of storytelling and how to use those skills to enrich my performances.

My current production is Bubble Wonders. The process was a little different than outlined above. I was simply doing some cool things with bubbles that I wanted to share with my audiences. Over the years the experiences I had performing Bubble Wonders (and moments with volunteers and audience members AFTER the show) became the stories I shared DURING the show. Over time, I refined, cut, refined some more, stayed in the moment so I could ,impromptu, share some relevent story/fact, etc. Further, I listened to the audience...I kept what worked, what connected, what brought the gasps of surprise and wonder, and cut what didn't.

Now, as I move into the creation of a new show I realize I can cut down the learning curve and the length of time it took to get Bubble Wonders where it is by being more conscious at the beginning stages of creation. I can use the template above and the ideas by Walt and others to form the necessary framework from the beginning.
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