Thursday, July 7, 2011

Holy Shit



I didn't think my little rant about three books would generate that much discussion. I am surprised. But guys, don't get me wrong. The fact that I don't see the genius in the Professor doesn't mean I think there is none. It just hasn't clicked yet. And I am afraid it never will.

Personally it is not a joy to read Vernon's material. It's rather painful. This maybe due to Lewis Ganson's writing style. I am sorry, but Jon Racherbaumer, Richard Kaufman, Roberto Giobbi and even Harry Lorayne are so much better writers. Hell even Marlo was much more enjoyable to read than Ganson.

But this whole thing led me to compile a short list of thing to watch out for when writing up magic.


  • Don't start with the history of a trick. Start with the effect (as briefly as possible, cutting out all that will be clear anyway in the cause of the routine.)
  • Go directly into the method. Explaining the setup first.
  • Include the patter in the method section, but make sure to "tell it apart from the rest"
  • No variations in the "method" section.
  • No credits in the method section (you can put a tiny number on it, doing the credits either on the bottom of the page or on a separate page.)
  • Explain the purpose of a move if it is rather complex. If you need to do an "Underground Elmsley" twice at least write that it only serves the purpose of making sure all the card remain in the same order, while hiding the face up card under the pretext of counting them again for the audience.
  • If you have four coins in your hand but the audience thinks it three coins. Write it like this: "Place the three(4) coins into the right hand." That way I know to add the palmed coin. The same goes for card magic. "Show the Four of Clubs, turn the double face down and place the Four of Clubs(QD) face down on the table."
  • After the technical part you may go into the history aspects, explaining even further little things and variations.
  • Always remember that people read the technical part of a routine usually with card, coin or whatever in their hands. So make sure that when they need to turn the page at least one hand is free. Again, during that phase you don't wanna go into long theoretical discussions about the purpose of the moves. People got stuff in their hands.
  • Add situation checks along the way.
That's all I got, if you got more, or if you disagree you know where to put it!

17 comments:

Trickster said...

Oh don't try and be coy now, you knew full well your Vernon post would cause heated debate. I think you probably expected it on the McBride post too, but you didn't get it, so you went for Vernon.
I at least have the honesty to admit I stir the pot and acknowledge that I knew full well that my posts would get at least a couple of Vernon fans to pipe up in his defense.

You've been around enough magic forums and the like to know how touchy some Vernon fans are about him being "attacked", so just admit it, you wanted to create a stir and prompt a debate, that's why you posted what you did.

I like that you posted it, I like that you have an opinion and are willing to publish it, I like that you follow your own line and don't submit to other people's thinking and edicts, but I don't like that you claim to have not expected responses in the volume that you got.

Barry Solayme said...

It's called style, kid.

BS

R.S. Licker said...

God bless you Barry! You are God's gift to us!!

Barry Solayme said...

Thank you R.S. God does bless me, everyday of my sweet life.

BS

Roland said...

Oh Brendan, your ability to look in my head is seriously gone... Really! It was not my intent to generate any debate over the McBride post. Hell, I ranted about McBride a long time ago. That guy is past his prime. http://weeklymagicfailure.blogspot.com/2009/07/jeff-mcbride-is-so-weird.html

In the Vernon case I was not expecting that much either. I ranted about the three books and that the Genius of the Professor is not opening up to me. Hardly a worth getting excited about.

Andrew Musgrave said...

Just keep in mind that style only takes you so far. I'm not ignorant of its appeal -- heck, a few people lately have told me that they like my writing style, and I'm appreciative of that -- but in the end, style's primary function is to convey content, and when it comes the value here, it's in the content.

Tomsk192 said...

On a prosaic note. I think Sadowitz handles ambiguity well in his texts. To use your examples he would say "3 coins(?)" or "4 of clubs(?)". It works well.
On the subject of style: of course we are all turned off by 'style over substance', but I'd prefer the substance to be presented with suitable style any day. Then one has a really decent bit of writing.

Gordon said...

Perhaps you should try rewriting a trick that you think is poorly described, while applying your own advice. Then we can judge if it's really improved.

Tomsk192 said...

Ahem: 1) Take a funny blog about magic, hold it in dealer's position. 2) Mention Dai Vernon in anything less than sycophantic terms, with no brown showing on nose. 3) Watch, as the blog miraculously becomes The Magic Cafe.

Hooplaaaa!

Trickster said...

Well Roland, if you didn't see what was to come then you mustn't have thought about it much, or at all, and perhaps you didn't. I certainly write things quite regularly without consideration of the results. I shall continue to do so too, as the reactions received are usually not why I write what I do, too much consideration of the resulting reactions can all too often colour what people write, thus removing the honesty or directness of what they write.

I still find it hard, if not impossible, to think that afterwards you really were surprised at the reactions you got.

Xylo said...

Who would have thought Vernon would have something in common with Bob Marley.

Justin said...

His face hangs on the dorm room walls of every rich white college kid in America?

Xylo said...

Knock him and see...

Justin said...

Your analogy fails because Marley wasn't the most important musician of the twentieth century.

Tomsk192 said...

Surely you mean Harry Lorayne? No?
;-)

Don Bellend said...

(The analogy is spot on, btw; witness the knees jerking. The analogy refers to sacred cows, like Vernon, Marley etc. Personally, anyone engaged in naming "the greatest" this or "the greatest" that needs a cranial enema.)

Just my opinion.

Bash the Gash

Tomsk192 said...

Careful Roland: Peter Tosh knocked Bob Marley, and look what happened to him.....