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How easy, or difficult do you find creating presentations and writing scripts for your magic?

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple" - Jack Kerouac Smile
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The answer depends on what you mean by "your magic." What is your objective in performing? Who is your intended audience? etc.
Is this for an effect you created, or putting a new face on a standard routine?

It is like the difference in school between a book report, essay, term paper and Masters Thesis. Is it for you to refer to, or to communicate with someone else?
All are written, but each follows a different format and rigor.

The "creation" part may be easy, but the "writing" part difficult.

If you want or "do tricks" or play "gotcha" games it takes very little effort or documentation, and the story line doesn't have to make sense or be congruous.
If you desire to do table hopping or busking then you effects have to be repeatable, simple and flexible. You may have different verbal scripts available for the same effect.

Other types of performing would have different requirements. If you desire to publish or sell an effect then different standards apply.

When combining "Creating" and "Presentative" together you introduce the idea of performing, learning and revising of many factors. That process may need a separate script or strategy.

There are different types of scripts also (beyond verbal story). Preparation requirements, Moves-Sleights-Stratagems and action steps all have to be written down (hence script)

If you desire to include the logic and theory behind the selection of each part of the effect it can be very complex and time consuming.
If giving credit and cross references is desired that can be an additional script.

Fortunately, any creative process can be its own reward. The more things that you write down, the easier it will be to assemble and organize later on.

And back up everything I once had a computer crash and had to rescript dozens of effects and routines.

Enjoy the journey.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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Profile of Socrates
Thanks for the reply Funsway - I am curious to know from magicians if they find it easy to create presentations and scripts for the tricks they perform?
Max Milagro
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I hear you Socrates, but the process and the results are very personal. Depends upon ones creativity, writing abilities, etc. For me scripting my magic is my beloved companion when having insomnia. It works much better then counting sheep ...
What did help me tremendously was reading books regarding the subject: Scripting Magic 1 and 2 by Pete McCabe, Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz and Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber. Just to name my favourites.
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Profile of charlie_d
Craig Petty's thoughts on presentation, character and performance here:

Thinking about it is probably a good idea. Most people don't seem to. Even if you're just selecting effects based on some idea of what works for you, that's a start.
Theodore Lawton
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I find it easy. I'm creative, quick witted and possess writing skills that make it very enjoyable. It's one of the things I like the most about magic: creating the story.
Of course, like Funsway said, not every trick will be a long script, but even coming up with one or two good lines or jokes for a short trick can be very rewarding for a creative thinker.
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Socrates I have shared my thoughts on presentation on this forum in the past.

I think firstly it's important to acknowledge that performing magic and creating it falls in two respective categories, one being a craft and the other an art. Each on a broader perspective are simply the opposite sides of the same coin and both are not exclusive to the other but rather complementary. I personally see both in terms of the chicken or the egg dilemma, nether existing without the existence of the other.

Having said that, you need to understand the important difference between the two.

A craft is a pastime or a profession that requires skills and knowledge of skilled work. Art on the other hand is a diverse range of human activities involving the creation of visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), which express the creator's imagination, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

In other words, the end result of craft is art.

When it comes to the craft side of magic, I think it's prudent to be pragmatic by following guidelines or magic formulas. These are well tested paths that others have followed in the past and have achieved a level of success by using them.

One of the first aspects of crafting a presentation in establishing a premise, this is essentially the why of it all. From my experience this usually extends from a trick needing a presentation or a presentation needing a trick.

If I need a presentation for a trick, I dissect the physicality of trick both is terms procedure and outcome. The reason for this is to make sure that the presentation in congruent to the trick I am performing. What is this trick trying to achieve and how is it achieving it?

Sometimes the answer to this is not always black and white as many things can be interpreted in many ways. For example if I close my hand around a coin then open it and find it no longer there, it could be interpreted as vanishing into thin air, melted into the flesh of my hand or simply turned invisible to the naked eye well physically still being present. In such situations where there are multiple streams of possible interpretation, you as the magician need to CHOOSE one as the context of the trick.

Once you have contextualised the outcome/climax of the trick, you need to contextualise the procedure it took you to get there. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes this is hard. Magic has a tendency in the name of methodology to introduce some obscure procedures such as down under deals, mathematical calculations, spelling of people's names etc as a means to an end. A lot of this can be avoided of course by simply picking versions of a trick that avoids all this obscurity in the first place but on occasions where this is not possible you may need to contextualise these obscure procedures.

If you want to see an example of this check out how I did this a few years ago for a magician on the Café looking for a presentation for the "Piano Card Trick" which can be found in many elementary books on card magic.

I guess the next aspect that I encourage magicians to do is make the trick your own, don't go and perform the latest trick by Shin Lim like Shim Lim expecting to be like Shin lim. Instead try to create something unique to you.

Creativity depending on who you talk to can ether be a clearly defined process or an abstract concept depending on how they define it. For beginners I tend to steer clear of the Hippie psychedelic interpretations for the more structured and clearly defined definitions of creativity. Not only does it give clear direction and focus to your creative efforts, it clearly avoids the risk of confusion resulting by things falling into the realms of abstraction by less rigid interpretations.

I think it is also important to consider creativity as a constant work in progress which involves refinement, changes, alterations, additions and cuts. One of the important questions I always ask magicians if given the opportunity to talk to after watching their show is what their creative process was. Nine times out then I have found that it's starts as a seed of an idea that grows over time with the evolutionary process I talked about previously.

Like the parable of Stone Soup, you might start out with something bland and uninspiring but with the gradual addition of other ingredients things soon become heartier and more flavourful.

One way I often prescribe to magicians in thinking creatively is to think about things through different lenses of thought by asking questions such as:

Can I substitute something in it?

Can I combine it with something else?

Can I adapt something to it?

Can I modify and magnify it?

Can it be put to some other use?

Can I eliminate something?

Can I reverse or rearrange it?

I also believe inspirations can come from the most obscure moments and at the most inopportune times and it is for this reason I highly recommend you have some sort of medium to capture your ideas. Many magicians have notebooks for this very reason, but also, I think there is merit to maybe carrying a digital voice recorder as part of your everyday carry for those informal moments which you can take back later and transcribe to your notebook at a later time. Many smart phones have this recording feature as part of their many included apps, so unknown to you, you might already have the capability to start doing this.

After some time has passed and you have remained vigilant in this process, you will start collecting a bountiful crop of ideas as sources of inspiration and creativity.
Also researching a presentation idea can prove beneficial and open nuances to a presentation that you might not have considered.

Maybe I have a packet trick that involves six cards, do a google search on how the number 6 manifests itself in the real world.
Here is what I found with just a quick cursory look:

Six Degrees of Separation (The theoretical idea of all things being connected with six connections or less)

The Devils Number (The idea that 666 is the devil's number. A possible Halloween presentation maybe?)

Six pack is a common form of packaging for six bottles or cans of drink.

Extrasensory perception is sometimes called the "sixth sense".

A standard guitar has six strings.

...and the list goes on. Just by looking at loose associations with the number 6 you can extrapolate possible avenues of creative inspiration that might just lead to a creative presentation.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts on the matter, if your interested in my any of my other thoughts let me know.

Until next time...


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Very fine stuff, Aus -- in simplicity, clarity and expanse
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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The Burnaby Kid
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I tend not to find it too difficult.

Any trick that I do has to pass some tests. The first test is the Purple Monkey Dishwasher test. It's pretty straightforward. You find some random person, you show the beginning condition of the trick, you say "Purple Monkey Dishwasher", and you show the ending condition of the trick. If the effect hits hard, then you know you're working with something inherently strong.

Now, I've copyrighted "Purple Monkey Dishwasher" in all magic scripts in perpetutet... in prepetuirt... in pruputuitu... I've copyrighted "Purple Monkey Dishwasher" in all magic scripts for the next hundred years, so you're not going to be able to do that unless you want my goons on you. That said, once I've got a trick that I know is strong, what I do is start looking at the trick from the standpoint of premises and dynamics, to see if it'll fit me.

What THAT means is looking at the tricks that you've done in the past and figuring out what it is that made your most successful tricks a success. Is it a way of interacting with the audience? Is it the use of a specific theme? Is it something that the trick revealed about your character? Does it allow you to show off a natural entertaining quality that you have? Whatever it is, it's to your benefit to figure that out in your current material.

Then, at that point, you figure out if those same premises and dynamics can be applied to the strong trick in question. So, let's say for example that your best trick previously was Sam The Bellhop, and you did it pretty much the way Bill Malone did it. For what it's worth, I don't judge anybody for copying Malone, as he's a very sexy man. If you try to break down what's going on with Sam The Bellhop, you might analyze it thusly:

Premise: I'm going to tell a story using an entire deck of cards.

Dynamics: Comedy; Flashy; Long; Not tons of audience interaction (although there can be some, to be fair); Story; Surprise; Display of Mastery; Event.

Now, one decent measure to figure out if that trick that passed the Purple Monkey Dishwasher test is good for you would be if that trick naturally jives with the premise and dynamics that you already know you're good at.

So... maybe your Purple Monkey Dishwasher test trick is something like a Multiple Selection Revelation. Well, you might want to leave the story part out of it, but you could still incorporate the comedy, the flashiness, the surprises, the display of mastery and the event dynamics to it. This trick will probably be a decent one for you. It's worth mentioning that a pitfall exists here, in that by doing tricks with the same premises and dynamics over and over again you risk becoming a one-note act. It's probably to your benefit to ensure that there's at least one key feature in the trick that makes it worthy of inclusion next to the other tricks that you already do. If you're doing Sam the Bellhop and discover that The Adventures of Diamond Jack also works for you... well, duh, and it probably doesn't mean you want to start doing both in your show.

On the other hand, maybe your Purple Monkey Dishwasher test trick is something like Copper/Silver. Arguably better magic than a Multiple Selection Revelation, but it doesn't really do well in storytelling, arguably does better with coins than cards (a discussion for another time, perhaps), and doesn't really benefit from flashiness, length, a lack of audience interaction, and a display of mastery. You might still be able to make the trick fit into your repertoire, but there's going to be a massive shift in tone. On the one hand, maybe you'll get a pleasing texture out of a set that includes Copper/Silver and Sam the Bellhop, if you can find some other unifying elements in play. Eugene Burger makes the excellent point that a Dolly Parton concert gives you a wide variety of experience and emotions over the course of the show. That said, Dolly Parton doesn't try to fill the gap between Jolene and I Will Always Love You with death metal.

If all this is too complicated, John Lovick had a great heuristic that he used for trying to figure out whether or not a trick would fit in his act. I read this a long time ago, so maybe he still uses it, dunno. Anyways, his idea was this, his performing persona was all about two things: flirting with women and showing off how awesome he was. If the trick in its most natural form could help him dramatize one of those two things, then it had potential for inclusion. That might seem overly broad, but think about it, how do you pull one of those two off using Cannibal Cards? Or Professor's Nightmare? Or the Miser's Dream? It's a pretty good filter that can shine a light on material that will fit the character, and throw shade at the material that won't.

(Of course, now that I've said that, watch John himself show up and say that he closes his act with one of those three.)

The point being, once you've sorted out your filter, it tends to be really easy to come up with a presentation that suits you. Basically, they start writing themselves.
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For the script, is it something you have done and want to improve, or is it a new trick never performed.
If it's new, write it exactly how you ideally it would work. Ignore laws of physics.

If it's old, write down everything you do and say. Write down the audience intended reaction. Then determine everything that is said, if its needed or just filler. Catorgize everything being said by its purpose. Then look at your actions. Look at your methods and technique, including misdirection. Try to minimize filler. Examine laughs per minute.

There are a few books on the subject. Maximum Entertainment is a good start.
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