I need strong magic today.
Here’s a reference. Remember the primary goal.
An experience of mystery.
Now consider this. Most people hate bad magic, but a few also hate the good stuff. Why is this?
They feel fooled when the trick works.
That’s why you want to make it a partnership, not a challenge. Then it’s a win-win.
What about a puzzle?
Most people hate puzzles. They’re only for the mind. Without a solution, there’s no satisfaction.
But with magic, on the other hand ––
With magic, there’s satisfaction in not solving. There’s comfort in the illusion of mystery.
Has magic lost its hold?
Hah! No, this is the age of magical thinking.
But there’s all these beefed-up intellects guarding the gates.
Sure, but people are willing to believe anything on an emotional level. You just have to get past the gates.
You present something that seems impossible. The intellect wants to explain it. When it can’t, it gets baffled. Then you’re in. If you start with reason, forget it.
What about a story?
A magic trick tells a story, but the story isn’t the goal. The goal is to create a sensation.
To what end?
The point is clarity. You start with confusion, just to get the guard at the gates of the intellect spinning enough to drop his weapons. Then you’re in.
Then they will follow?
Then they want to follow. They want you to bring them home.
The reference in question today is Darwin Ortiz’s Strong Magic, which I purchased a few years ago with a magician character in mind. One of the benefits of writing fiction is having an excuse to immerse oneself in seemingly impractical lines of research which invariably lead to useful insights beyond the character in question. (Related post: Card Tricks and Other Joys of Research)