“Confusion is not magic” said Ed Marlo (Kidding! Vernon, obvs). But when it comes to trick plots, how do you avoid ending up with a muddled multi-climax monstrosity?
Here’s a elegantly simple way from Matt Stone and Trey Parker, of South Park fame (or intentional infamy). Watch the video (it’s under 3 minutes) then we’ll look at how to apply it to magic.
Okay, so they’re applying it to plots of shows, naturally, but you can just as easily apply it to plots of tricks – especially those with more than one moment of magic.
Just write a brief description of what happens in the trick, then see whether you’re tending to use the words ‘therefore’ (or ‘so’) and ‘but’, or just ‘and then’.
Good plot, bad plot
Here’s an example of the former:
‘The performer wants to make a chosen card travel to their pocket, so they ask the spectator to make a magical gesture, but the magic gesture is too strong, so the whole deck except the chosen card travels instead’.
This has good causal flow, and internal consistency, while still containing a twist. (And yep, it’s a phase of David Williamson’s 51 Cards to Pocket – a modern classic for a reason).
And here’s an example of the latter:
‘The performer wants to make a chosen card travel to their pocket, and then its back changes colour, and then the deck becomes a block of clear plastic’.
This has multiple magical moments, but minimal making-sense moments!
It ends up feeling a bit like DC’s Suicide Squad movie – there’s lots going on, but afterwards, you’re not quite sure what happened.
Give the technique a go and let me know how you get on at wideopenmagic [at] gmail [com]