Povallsky's rules of thumb for creating original shows for the theatre group he performs for:
1) Pick a theme
2) List ALL the effects that fit that theme blatantly
3) List ALL the effects that can be moulded to fit
4) Draw a line from one weeker one, through two or three middle power and one really strong one
5) Write an entirely new script based on the character I play, the theme I'm playing and the effects I'm performing
6) Jot down how long each effect will take, each section of talking and the intro and outro, add it all up and if things don't fit for time, cut them out
7) Practise and rehearse until two days before the show, leave it a day, run through briefly day of show and then go on stage.
Theme? Casino, gambling.
Obvious choices? Koran's Medallion, Wilson's Envelope Stand, my own original effect based on Absolute Magic by Mayne.
Other choices? Oddball (Oberon) presentation using spectators' money and burning envelopes.
Line? Not much to choose from but Koran's Medallion, Envelope Stand, Oddball, Mayne variation.
Wrote the script, completely rewriting the presentations for Koran's Medallion and the Envelope Stand, checked for time and eventually turned my version of Absolute Magic into an Oddball presentation having cut the other due to over running.
I did exactly the same when I wrote Fire and Blood with Magic Rich my performing partner a couple of years back, and again when I wrote Choice just this month. I must have listed 15 effects I could perform on stage and narrowed it down to just five. Completely rewrote the script for the intro to Jermay's Silence Soundly Speaks for the show, and I've invented two of the effects to be played.
Anyway, I think that a sucessful magic show has a running theme, a hook, something that will always serve as the link from one effect to the next. Even if that link is simply grand illusion or fairy tale and pantomime, your show needs something. Using just cards is a start, but using just cards and going from magic to mind reading to magick is better (maybe). Using just coins is ok, but start with appearing some from nowhere, ruin a few by bending them, do some transpo and penetration then vanish the ones left and I think it'll work better.
Sorry this turned into a bit of an essay but I always try to think like a professional magician in regards to performance and staging; I view every spectator as a potential client, and if they see a show they like I want them to think about hiring me to perform it again. I'm not going to win hearts and minds by walking from stage left to stage right saying "and now for my next trick...". I don't think of my shows as a string of effects, a natural progression from one magical moment to another, I think of them as whole packages of entertainment. Yes, I want people to experience my own particular brand of magic, but I really want them to be entertained by it. I feel the best way for me to achieve that is to create professionally minded shows, carefully considered and planned, scripted with indepth though to the words used and left out, and rehearsed until they are polished.
So, think of a theme, work around it and entertain people.