Magic and Showmanship: Classic book about conjuring has many lessons for writers


7 Responses to “Magic and Showmanship: Classic book about conjuring has many lessons for writers”

  1. thegonzalez says:

    On similar lines, I would also recommend “Strong Magic” by Darwin Ortiz.

  2. chelfyn says:

    … or Derren Brown’s absolute magic, but it’s out of print at the moment.

  3. airship says:

    As an amateur magician, I’ve bought many books that teach now to do a trick, but Nelms’ book is invaluable in understanding how to make a trick actually WORK as entertainment. There are other magicians who have written books on the subject since Nelms, and most of them read as more ‘modern’ prose than his, but none covers the topic as well.

    I hadn’t thought about applying his ideas to my writing; I’ll have to revisit the book with that in mind.

  4. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Airship, I’ve seen his book passed around a circle of writers, and heard a string of surprised murmurs from them as they opened it randomly and found stuff that was applicable to writing.

    In my case, it was the bit about a transformation that starts with oversize dice, and how it’s better to use black-spotted white guinea pigs than white rabbits: same transformation, but more satisfactory.

  5. The Lizardman says:

    Just felt the need to comment because this is such a fantastic book. I’ve said that reading it should be a pre-requisite for stepping on a stage regardless of the show because the quality of entertainment in the world would rise dramatically. It is nice to see these lessons being applied to other mediums as well.

  6. charliekkendo says:

    What a trip! I was just thinking this morning about how well James M. Cain describes some of the things referenced in this post. In particular, I was reading Cain’s “Love’s Lovely Counterfeit” on my bus ride in. The main character is “a chiseler,” a criminal who’s not all the way bad but, obviously, not all the way straight. In this short novel, Cain allows other characters to sketch in this aspect of the chiseler, and the character further reveals his chiseler-ness through his actions. James M. Cain, I think, was a master when it came to accomplishing this depth of characterization with just the right touch.

    I’d love to get my hands on this Nelms book. Wonder how well I’d do at some of the used book stores in my area…

  7. Xiguli says:

    Muy interesante. I’d love to hear about all the books that aren’t about writing but have everything to do with it. Much better for not looking pretentious while reading in coffee shops…

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