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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » If you were going to write a book ... (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Koolmagic114
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Witch Doctor Chris.... I'd buy that book.. where do I send PayPal?
Eddy

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Co-Creator of "TAGZ" / "Iced Over" / " TelePad" / "Penigma"
www.magicianslair.com
Mr. Woolery
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I would like a book about performing magic in casual or social situations. For a lot of beginners, they don’t want to do stage shows. They want to entertain friends. A show is a very different thing from sharing a trick or two. With a show, there’s a beginning and end and these are usually well defined.

Andy, from the blog that must not be named, goes into this a fair amount, but I’d really like a book on social performance that is accessible to a lot of folks. Most books are geared toward a formal sort of performance, which is rather different.

Patrick
willtupper
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Mr. Woolery, I'll probably be plugging this book until I die, but I am 100% fine with that.

"A Book of Magic for Young Magicians: The Secrets of Alkazar" by Allan Zola Kronzek covers a fair amount about performing in an informal setting. In fact, he stresses that that will be the place you're MOST likely to perform!

In Chapter 11, he outlines several simple, sample acts, culled from the small set of effects taught throughout the book.

At $7.95, it is an absolute bargain.
Terrible Wizard
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Mr Woolery - I agree Smile.

Will:
I'm not sure that Kronzek's book really covers the kind of modern, impromtu, casual, family Magic Woolery was thinking of. I found the book to be disappointing, tbh - though it was a long time ago when I read it.
willtupper
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You might be right, Terrible Wizard (Why do I feel like that sentence would have been perfect in a "Monty Python" sketch?). When it comes to books, mileage will ALWAYS vary between readers. What's perfect for one, might not be great for others.

Magic Woolery, another book that might work for you is "Street Magic," by Paul Zenon. Most of the effects included in that (along with the bit of performing advice he offers) are geared entirely towards close-up, casual situations.

Best of luck in your quest!
Mr. Woolery
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To clarify, I’m not really in need of such a book now. I would have very much appreciated such a book when I was starting and trying to find ways to perform.

I will have to look at the Alkazar book again. Been a while since I opened it. And I do have the Paul Zenon book.

What I’m getting at is the ways you can approach being magical without being a creep or a freak or a dork. I really enjoy the unmentioned blog for precisely this reason. But I would really prefer a book format and a collection of categories that have to do with what you invest in a trick. Not money, but what is the buildup? How long is it? What situation are you creating? That sort of stuff.

Okay, maybe I do still need it.

Patrick
Terrible Wizard
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Will:
The pythonesque flavour isn't wholly un-deliberate, lol Smile

And yes, Zenon's street magic is a fantastic book for beginners - I just wish the card section was stronger.
willtupper
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Patrick:

I've always felt one of the biggest assets of the Secrets of Alkazar book is it's structure. It teaches you about Misdirection, and then illustrates that with an effect. It teaches about Patter, and then illustrates it with an effect.

Chapter 11, "Routining," covers a few ideas about performing for friends and family.

Another book I might suggest, although it's geared for the aspiring professional, is Jamie D. Grant's wonderful, "The Approach." There's a chapter in there - out of the over 100 - that reveals an awesome way to share magic with the world without looking like a creep or a freak or a dork (An aside: a great name for a law firm would be, "The Law Offices of Creep, Freak, and Dork"). I'll not mention it here (although I truly doubt Mr. Grant would mind), but it's a wonderful structure for performing magic for friends, family, and anybody else - without a single negative.

The whole book is amazing, one of my faves. Can't recommend it enough.

Terrible Wizard:

That's awesome. Now I want to see a Python magic show.

You've probably seen it (I hope you have), but on the off chance you haven't, look up "Steve Martin magic" on YouTube. His early set on the Smothers Brothers show remains one of the funniest performances I have ever seen.
Terrible Wizard
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Cheers for the recommend Smile. Steve Martin is a funny guy.
willtupper
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Couldn't agree more. Steve Martin is the best.

I wanted to comment on something you said earlier in this thread, TW. In regards to your hypothetical book proposal, you wrote, "I could never write it because I didn't invent those tricks."

It's something I wonder about a lot, in regards to magic. Magical... etymology, if you will. Where does stuff come from? Who has the rights to it / the rights to share it?

One of my very favorite, simple, self-working effects is "Circus Card Trick," found in RRTCM. Which is a wonderful, small piece of card magic.

And yet, yet!

In Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic, it appears as "Turnover Card."

It shows up in other books, under other names, as well. But other than the name, it's exactly the same!

I guess my question is, who has the rights to those things?

What's stopping TW from publishing his proposed, gigantic magic tome?

What's stopping me?

What's stopping anybody?

Besides the obvious logistics (small market, print-publishing is an endless challenge, etc), what is the ethical avenue here?

I don't want to hijack this thread, but it's something I've thought about for quite a while.

So.

I thought I'd ask Smile.
Terrible Wizard
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For some of the tricks I listed the creator is still alive and selling the trick on their books/DVDs. For some, the particular handling I would include is a handling devised by still living creators who have the handling on their books/DVDs. In order to include those tricks I would have to get permission, or else fall foul of an ethical breach. It wouldn't be illegal, however.

In short, then, the only thing stopping me is my conscience. It wouldn't be illegal, merely bad form. If I was able to get permission for those tricks to be included then it would be OK - but as a no one that isn't going to happen. Being well known and having contacts helps. A lot.

Another consideration: The magic community seems to sometimes give celebrity magicians, or magicians of a previous era, a free pass regarding this sort of thing. I am neither. I would find myself heavily criticised by other magi.

I could excise all such tricks from the book, and just include the old and generic ones, but then the book would lose a lot of its utility for the novice and become little different to many other beginner magic books.

To be more precise these tricks I likely couldn't include:
I Should Have Done it Myself
Gemini Twins
Quickie Card Trick
Piano Card Trick
Your No. Is?
Packet Lie Detector
Pre-Prefiguration
Overclock
Nervous Card
Invisible Card
Chinese Writing
Automatic Ace Triumph
Further Than That
Twisting the Aces
Dr.Daley's Last Trick
B'Wave
Free Will
Hoy's Book Test
Headline Prediction
Becker's Matrix Lock
willtupper
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You are an honest and noble soul.

A few of those, though (Gemini Twins, Quickie Card trick, Piano Card Trick) I KNOW I have seen in multiple sources, and at times, under different names. So I think (and I could well be wrong about this) that the effects you've listed where a creator is not sourced are kind of... "public domain."

I mean, does anyone know for sure who created Gemini Twins? I wish we did (I'd like to thank them). But I know for sure I've seen it appear in many, many books.

I think you're right about taking stuff out diminishing your proposed text. But perhaps it could be an asset? Like if you focused on the other areas of magic (performance, patter, planning, and other words that probably don't start with "p"), I think you could still turn out a useful and beneficial book.

But you also propose a good "Plan B:"

1. Get famous
2. Publish book
3. Profit!

Even if you never published, I bet the simple organization and writing of such a book would benefit you as a magician. Writing sharpens and refines the mind. And in turn, I suspect, could sharpen and improve one's magic.

Regardless, this has been a wonderful discussion. I've learned a lot, and am grateful for it.
Terrible Wizard
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Cheers will Smile.
Anatole
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This is what I posted in the "A Turn of the Page" forum of The Magic Café back in 2010:

_FEATURES OF A GOOD MAGIC BOOK FOR THE PUBLIC_

When I was getting my Master's Degree in Library Science at the University of Maryland, one of my classes had a focus on children's books. My term paper for that class was "793.8--A Survey of Magic Books for School and Public Libraries." Part of the term paper included an annotated bibliography of children's magic books. At some future date I will try to revise the entire guide. In the meantime I will post an excerpt here of what I think are features that make a good magic book. This list of features would be useful not only in selecting books for libraries, but would also be useful for anyone who aspires to write a magic book for the public.

Note: One of the responsibilities of a librarian is weeding out books that no longer meet the patrons' needs. My personal feeling is that magic books, like many books devoted to the arts, have a timeless quality. I still think, for example, that Joseph Leeming's _Fun with Magic_, originally published in 1943, is still an excellent book for anyone--child or adult--who is interested in a good introductory book.

----- Eleven Features of a Good Magic Book for School and Public Libraries-----
1. A concern for Secrecy. A good magic book for public and school libraries devotes some attention to the necessity for preserving the secrets of the magician's art. Different books handle the matter of secrecy in different ways. Joseph Leeming (in his excellent book _Fun with Magic_) tells the reader: "There is a great temptation to tell how a trick is done, but if you are a real magician, you will not do this." (page 13)

2. Attention to the Theory of Magic as an Art. Magic falls under the category of the performing arts, and as a performing art, it is based on the same theories that acting, dancing, and singing are based on. A good book on magic will emphasize the importance of _entertaining_ with magic. Bill Severn in _Magic with Paper_ (New York: McKay, 1965) writes: "It takes more than tricks, no matter how clever or mystifying, to entertain people with magic... Tricks alone amount to no more than puzzling toys."
In addition to theory based on the performing arts, magic is very dependent on theories of psychology and deception. Allan Kronzek in _The Secrets of Alkazar_ (New York: Four Winds Press, 1980) explains these theories as follows (paraphrased in my own words):
The audience will pay attention to what moves.
The audience will look where the magician looks.
The audience will treat as unimportant what the magician treats as unimportant.

3. Mystery. Mystery is that quality of a trick that makes it more than a puzzle or illusion. Rubik's Cube(tm) is a puzzle; it is not a magic trick. Juggling is not magic, although the dexterity required for being a juggler is sometimes greater than that required for being a magician. Without mystery, there is no magic.

4.Clarity of Text. The importance of text in any instructional or “how-to” book is nearly an overriding factor in determining its value. A good magic book will follow a format of describing a trick's _effect_ (what it looks like to the audience); its _requirements_ (what a person will need to accomplish the trick, such as a deck of cards or a coin which are seen by the audience), and also any secret objects that are not seen by the audience, such as a length of thread or a magnet).

5.Clarity of Illustrations. One picture is worth a thousand words. (As an example I cited an illustration in a book that was intended to show how a pull works. The angle the illustrator chose to depict, however, created the erroneous impression that the pull went up the sleeve.)

6.Variety. At least for the beginner or young student, it is recommended that the book should contain magic tricks with a variety of objects, such as cards, coins, rubber bands, etc. Later as his education continues, the student may decide to specialize in one area.

7. Simplicity. Books for the novice should contain tricks that can be prepared with materials readily available to the beginner who may not have access to a magic store where special apparatus could be purchased.

8. History of Magic. I feel strongly that beginners should learn something about the history of the art of magic. Some beginners' books ignore the subject entirely. Other books focus on the history of magic and devote minimal space to teaching tricks. The beginner is best served by something between those extremes.

9. Appendices. These should include a bibliography, addresses for contacting magic organizations, addresses and URLs of magic dealers and perhaps a glossary of magicians' jargon.

10. Finding aids. An index that cross-references tricks into subjects like card tricks, mind-readiing tricks, etc, would be very valuable.

11. Internet links, with annotations.

The paper included a list of recommended titles. One of the best books in the bibliography was Peter Eldin's _The Magic Handbook_ (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985). With its reproduction of posters and photos of famous magicians, it was an excellent example of a great magic book for the public.
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----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
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