Second Guessing Authors

The way in which magic effects are usually described in magic literature (and I use the term "literature" loosely) makes possible an excellent opportunity to practice creating magic. Most authors split the effect and the method into two distinct parts. When reading this type of description, step when you have finished reading the effect. Before reading the method, try to second guess the author by deciding which is the best method to accomplish the effect. Work at it. If you like the effect, come up with several methods.

Decide which method is the best and why. This is important. It will help you later to discard methods which you'll never use. It will also help you clarify in your mind the type of magic you want to create and what type you don't. For example, suppose the effect given in the book was to float a playing card in the air. Your first thought would be to use invisible thread. (That's thread that's visible to everyone except the magician and people who write magic books.)

Before going any further on how to rig up the thread, I would discard the method. To begin with, I perform magic a lot of times on short notice. I like to keep in practice on all the tricks which I normally perform. Personally. I am too lazy to rig up thread during practice. One reason is that I would have to find it first. Those of you who have seen ny magic room know that "this is no easy chore. Secondly, I don't like tricks that have to be continually rigged and rerigged. I like to set them up once and forget about ever having to set them up again. Most thread tricks are not of this nature. Finally- I normally perform close up with whatever happens to be in my pockets at the time. I never have a spool of invisible thread in my pockets. Since I never use thread, I don't have to spend any time thinking about thread as a method.

This is not to say that you should discard thread as a method. I eliminated it because I know in advance that I'll never use it. I create tricks for ityself, not for you. (Then why am I writing a magazine?) If you will use thread, keep it in your list of methods. By leaving it off of ny list, I have saved a lot of wasted time when creating.

Do the same type of reasoning with all of your possible methods. Be sure to think them through to make sure that they would work. If the materials are convenient, try working through some of the methods. Sane times a method is perfectly workable in theory but not in practice. The more that you like the effect, the more time you should be willing to spend trying to come up with the best method.

After you become efficient at matching up the right method to a given effect, you'll want to take the next logical step---inventing your own effects. This same way of second guessing the author can help you to originate your own effects. Many times an author's description of an effect can be quite lengthy. Use this disadvantage to your advantage. As you read the effect, jump ahead in your mind and try to guess what the effect is going to be. If you turn out to be correct, fine. If you are wrong, you may have a new effect that you can use. If so, work on finding the right method to accomplish it.

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