TLDL: Too Long Didn't Listen

TLDL: Too Long Didn't Listen

Magic scripting suffers from the worst cliché. 

 Elaborate story, demonstrated by a menial or somewhat unrelated prop. 

 Let me explain with an example. 

[ Magician enters stage left ] 
 “I want to tell you story about my grandfather, he was a painter by trade - and he used to paint incredible murals on his bathroom wall, with the most vibrant colours. 
His name was Jeff, he was one of 4 brothers, almost identical looking, but not quadruplets. 
Anyway, one day he decided to tell me a story, of his most iconic painting, the one to the very left of the sink in his guest bathroom. Huge thing, it seemed like it was 10-foot tall to me. But I guess I was just a kid." 


[ Audience falls asleep ] 

 2 minutes later the magician concludes…

“Let me show you what I mean using these 4 jacks” 

 [ Magician proceeds to pull out a deck of cards ] 


Or, something that's even worse…  

“My mother was a seamstress and she used to keep a lucky egg on her workbench.” 
 [ Magician then performs silk to egg ] 


That kind of scripting within magic makes my skin crawl. 



Expectations and reality need to be misaligned during magic, but the reality MUST exceed their expectations. Not the other way around. 

A long, sprawling script with twists and turns, used to frame a simple 4 card trick is grossly unbalanced. It builds the expectations that the reality will not meet. 

Now I’m not saying there isn’t a place for scripting in magic, but there needs to be the right script. 

Peter Turner has a fantastic ‘any card at any number’ trick, probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. 

The script is talking about Santa Claus and belief - and having your beliefs crushed by revelations of truth. 

At the end of the effect, when they deal down to the card at that number, he asks his audience if they want to believe it’s really their card or, like Santa Claus, spoil a potential lie. 

I’ve seen him perform it over 50 times in the decade that I’ve known him - and the majority of people don’t turn the card over. They choose to believe in the magic and the reality becomes more than just a card trick. It’s a regression to a childhood state of belief & wonder.

With this scripting, their expectations are dramatically lowered - and they’re 90% happy to just believe and 10% sure that it wasn’t their card anyway. 

As Pete throws the card back into the deck, he flashes it… It is their card. 

The reality smashes their expectations to bits, and the audience leaves that performance thinking “magic must be real.”  



Now, of course, I’m no expert on scripting magic, or even performing it for that matter... But I am an expert in watching magic.

I see hundreds of tricks per week. I get submitted thousands of presentations & methods per year. 

… and I’m telling you, some of it bores me to death. Because I have to sit through 4 minutes of irrelevant script on the holocaust for an audience member to then be asked to “take any card”. 

 Magic should be better than that. It CAN be better than that. 

The reason David Blaine has made the impact he has on magic, is that he seems to have no script. He is real. He keeps the audience's expectations low. 

Then, the reality of the miracles he can perform is off the charts. It exceeds their expectations by such a large distance, that it becomes powerful. It becomes magical. 



My challenge for you today is to re-evaluate the magic in your repertoire. 

  • Do you have any sprawling stories of irrelevance that can be rewritten? 
  • Are you trying to inject deep meaning into something as simple as a ‘pick a card, find a card’ trick? 
  • Can your script be simpler? 
  • Can you engage your audience better, by saying less & doing more? 
  • Does your plot exist to facilitate the gimmick? Instead of your gimmick existing to facilitate the prop. 


 Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


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thank you for another fascinating read.
please keep them coming, always something to think about. 👍



Do you have any sprawling stories of irrelevance that can be rewritten?
If it’s irrelevant, it’s the wrong script anyway.

Are you trying to inject deep meaning into something as simple as a ‘pick a card, find a card’ trick?
This is perfectly possible, it depends on the effect. Let’s say that a woman chooses a card, it’s shuffled into a hundred other decks of cards and they’re all thrown off a bridge. The fiance bungee jumps off the bridge and bounces back with the correct card and it’s presented with a script about taking the leap of faith in the relationship etc. This could be EPIC. A pick and find card trick is too vague and shouldn’t necessarily be underestimated.

Can your script be simpler?
Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Can you engage your audience better, by saying less & doing more?
The opposite can also be true surely? If I can say one extra line and avoid a very intense and risky sleight, might be worth the trade off? It’s a creative process; some stuff works and some stuff doesn’t.

Does your plot exist to facilitate the gimmick? Instead of your gimmick existing to facilitate the prop.
I feel that this is the wrong question. I feel the better question is: “Do your gimmicks and props exist to help you articulate your plot?” Magic is surely about expression and a good script can help you do that. Otherwise, everyones just doing every trick in the same way and they’ll continue to churn out prints rather than creating new masterpieces.

Roger Eugster

Roger Eugster

Hi guys

Barry Richardson (“Angel’s Flight”, “The Trick That Fooled Einstein”), Dan Harlan (“Starcle”) and Peter Samelson (“Phoenix”) to name a few are masters of scripting.

It’ better to analyze some great script but to “discuss” a constructed bad one.
All the best, Roger



You are not a professional on scripting… then why are you giving advice on it…?
If you would like a great example of scripting or learn more about it
Look at all of Ron Bauer private studies.

Pog  M.I. M.C.

Pog M.I. M.C.

I try to write my scripts that are to the point, are as short and as “magical” as possible.
A pause in the right place, I think emphasis the “magic and wonder,” and when I can, I try to awaken childhood feelings and memories in adults….I love it when the adults cry with emotion when I perform Kevin Jame’s beautiful effect, “The Gift of Snow!”
It’s not always like that though when the children are roaring with laughter at Run Rabbit Run!!!!

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