Out of the list created, I start to create a skeleton of what the show will be. A simple structure that allows me to link each moment to the next one. One of the oldest magic rules is that you should always start with your second strongest effect and then follow with the remaining repertoire in increasing order of the impact that it has on the audience. I feel this is a dated concept. If we only looked at all the pieces as purely individual entities that neither in form nor in content related to each other, then this could be a simple way of getting a structure. But Magic deserves more than that.

For me, the really important decision to make is in understanding the journey that we want our audience to have. If it is simply a question of impact, then the classic structure is a very solid concept to start with. But, what if the journey we aim for is different? What if the journey is more story-driven and more about connecting each piece with the following one than just thinking about the impact that they produce? For me, there are no wrong or right answers, but only possibilities that fit (better or worse) your needs as a creator/performer.

I always think about the goal – that first moment that was defined – and that triggers the whole process. It should be a moment of resolution of conflict. The first person that actively talked about conflict in magic was Pepe Carroll, in the essay from his fantastic book 52 Lovers. If every routine has a conflict, why shouldn’t a magic show have a conflict? I think it’s only natural, and its resolution is what the action of the story/show/exhibitions is always moving towards. This has nothing to do with esthetic choices or approach, but a simple question: what drives the action in the show?

Some of the notions I like to use and play with while creating come from my theater background. For example, when the action of a show starts, the audience does not need to be aware of the conflict. In fact, there are shows or performances where the audience only understands the conflict as it is being resolved. But, independent of that, there is some sort of goal that every story has. In your show, the beauty is that you are the writer and the character. All you have to do is ask yourself two very simple things: what is the conflict and how is it solved? The journey is created by starting at the furthest possible opposite point in your list of ideas and metaphors and slowly building towards that resolution.

Focusing on the impact of magic is not something I completely disregard. I pay close attention in the creation of this journey to make sure that the flow between magic moments works and that the effects are, at least, linked if the impact is not sustained from one piece to the next. But this impact is not only rational, but also emotional. And the emotions of a narrative can speak volumes to your audience, and the combined impact of both will carry the interest once there is a journey the spectator joins. And when it gets to that resolution, everything you planted along the way should not only make sense but be part of that resolution. 

Helder Guimaraes