Creating your act, How to script correctly
Have you ever stumbled across a humorist act, how do they manage to be funny? How do they manage to alway have the right word at the right place to make people laugh? How do actors make their text? Is it just pure coincidence? That they are saying anything at any given time that will make something that is genius? If life would be like this you wouldn't need Visa! UH! I mean you wouldn't need a script!
Imagine... Close your eyes a second... Well let them open so you can read... That you could alway have the right word at the right moment, the right line that just fit here! If you see a magician that looks to you that he his totally natural and everything comes out in the moment, He is using a script. Every working professional use it, and you just cant go around without it, just DO IT.
Some people tend to use the lazy way. Putting tricks one after the other without really thinking what will be between and after. Then dont come cry at me that you dont step out of the crowd, because if you dont write a script you say to yourself that you accept the mediocricy of your act.
So how could you ask more for your act? How can you step out of the crowd and be noticed as a great performer against the other? As well as getting a little bit more money for your trouble. The making of a script makes your show a structured show, with lines, comedy, drama etc. And its written on paper, nothing will kill you to take the ereaser and remove some line, Or take your pen and write some more, ( if you are using a PC I dont recommend using a pencil against the computer screen ).
Some years ago I have seen a performer that was getting a whole more then me with his show. He was happy with that, I was still at the 50 bucks a show grade. He was getting something like 200-300 bucks per show. He was good, but he never improved his script, He keept it as it was, while I was constantly working on my script, changing lines that dindn't worked, changed tricks for other ones that get a better reaction. And slowly but certainly he was still asking 200-300 bucks, but two year after I could earn over 1000$, and he was still at 300$. So you got to learn that with a script there is alway ALWAY room for improvement.
So what you need to remember about this section of text is :
- To make an elaborated sucefull show you need a script, There is no way around.
- There is alway room for improvement in a script.
- Life is easyer with a visa, I mean a script.
First step, Making a plan
Making a plan is probably the most important step. Most people skip this and its crucial. Even If you dont put it on paper, it help a lot, but writing it is even better. I made myself a plan for makin plan. Dont worry I haven't made a plan to make a plan to write a plan. You're still folowing me? right? So how to make a plan, I like to put it into 3 steps;
- Putting into subjects
- Putting it into chronological order.
The art to throw whatever feels right to you at any given time... I love it, brainstorming is basically putting all the tricks that comes into mind that would fit nicely together, Dont put hipityhop rabbits and screwdriver trough arm one after the other... Its senseless, more if you are writing a show for kids...
Before putting ideas into paper, what do you want to do:
- A kid show
Now the best way to know what tricks you liked and what you would like to put in your show, is to look trough your books and Dvd's in the Index, maybe the tittle of the tricks will remind you of what it looks like, take a pad of paper with you and write everything that you like. The best way to do this is when you buy a book or a Dvd when you look them, have a small pad of paper and write what you like when you come across. Then when you will want to brainstorm you will have that small pad handy.
How to have your bank of trick structured?
You will see that I LOVE to have stuff well structured and well presented, if you ever took course on methodology you will learn this, and if you are going as a stage technician, everytime they will ask you for a bibliography they will ask you to have it made EXACTLY like this.
EX: BORIS, pocus. Extremly mental, Edition sankey, DVD. Ontario, 2007 : Lottery.
That means that the trick/ material you are looking for is on the DVD Boris Pocus : extremly mental. And that what you are looking for is the trick Lottery. You dont have to put it that elaborated, Put if you put it nicely on a page you will easily find every trick that you loved. So you can make something that looks like this :
EX: ROTH, david. Expert coin magic. BOOK. Page 32 : Wigned silver.
This way you wont have to fumble around, You know Its a book, You know the title of the book and you know wich page it is. So when you are brainstorming it will be easy to get a glimpse at them to be shure that what you are looking at is what you need.
How to have your brainstorm structured:
Your brainstorm on paper should look like this:
Subject : Comedy magic
Coin routine ( wigned silver )
Bill in kiwi
This is just a small exemple with tricks that popped out of my head. For now you are not looking to make a structured script, just to find tricks that you like and feel that should go together. You can also have a theme going on. A theme is like : Halloween, School, Generosity etc. But find tricks that goes with what you want, Dont do Zoran's horror cutter at a kid show!
So what you should get out of this part :
- Start by finding what you what ( ex: kid show ).
- Find the tricks on your pad of papers, or find them
- Write what you got on paper.
putting into subjects
The next step is to manage all the tricks that you found, And put them in a list with sub-category's, This step is up to you. For me I like tu put them into:
So I put every trick that im going to do in three steps;
It should be a good trick that is visual, something like productions, doves, flash papers etc. And you should present yourself, and give them an idea of the subject you are going to present them.
The middle :
Should be medium tricks, that keep their attention for the finaly, I like to put some weak effect and some good effects during the show.
The closer :
This should be your best trick, something that will let them wanting more, But dont show you're best because they will want more and you will be left with nothing better.
So you're brainstorm should like that now :
coin routine wigned silver
Bill in kiwi
So its a little bit more classified, You know which trick you are going to use, as an Opener, in the middle ans finally as a closer.
What you should get out of this:
- Learn to put everything down into category's
Putting it into chronological order
This is very important too, You got to decide wich trick you will do first second etc. So you dont end up having a part of your show that will be very strong and another part that will be weak. Another tool that you can use is list the trick with a note of 1 to 10, 10 being the strongest trick, 1 being the weakest. So you can play with that a little bit and have everything ''equalized''
I wont show an example, Its only a question of tweaking the order in youre brainstorm.
How to write the script
Ok so now you have your plan made, found everything you wanted to put in your act. Great, now its the hard work that will begin, you go to write your script. But beforehand, It would be a nice idea to practice the tricks you choose when you are not writing your script, Its a good thing, and you will see if you feel good about this trick, Also you can do all the trick that you choosen all one after the other in chronological order, so some idea may pop out, it happens to me a lot when im rehearsing idea suddently pops out, so alway have you paper pad next to you to write everything that you may use. Another great tool is the audio recorder, These day they put it into Ipods, so If you have an Ipod you can record everything you say and then listen to it or keep it for later. But you can also buy a cheap cassette recorder for like 15 bucks in wal-mart.
What you need to know when you write a script is being able to keep the subject going on, while building to a climax and on top of that you got to be interesting. To get a little bit help you can watch your trick on dvd and look carefully at what the performer use as patter, it may help a lot to create your own. What you want to have is ;
- Rapt attention
And instructions that are neccesary for the trick ( like instructing a spectator to pick a card ).
When you are writing your script make shure that what you write has sence and will look natural. You got to edit it as much as you can without altering much the effect. Another good way to make shure that what you write makes sence read it out loud, I got this idea from Ken Webers Maximum entertainment, read it out loud again and again, You might find some flaws and correct them this way.
The structure of a script
To write a script you dont only write what you are going to say, but the actions that you are going to take too, Its very important, sweat the details so you will be much more prepared and your show will be a sucess. Here is an example :
I will try tonight a feat of pure mentalism.
start to reach for the book on the table while saying :
Have you ever, when you read a book, tought of what will happen before you read, like a premonition?
pause, Wait for a response, folow:
It happened to me so much that I used these premonition to use as a feat of mentalism, So to make my little experiement I would like someone to come on stage[...]
So maybe you get a little idea, I made this text quickly, but hope you get the point on how to write a script. You might also want to put sections using your plan.
Maybe your script is written and you have performed with this script and there is some stuff that havent worked, Go back to your PC and fix it. Here is an exemple of my first script versus my lastest version, This is my script for lottery by Jay Sankey ( boris pocus ) :
You know in magic we use a lot of mentalism, to get a good idea on what mentalism is, have you ever looked canal-d with their psy series where they speak about mediums, telekinesis etc. So I would like to do a small demonstration of mentalism, Mr X I would like you to take the pack of cards and mix them thourougly, So you mixed the cards, everyone saw that they wherent gimmicked or gaffed. Now I would like you to pick one card out of the 52's, And I would like you Mr. Y to do likewise, as well as Mr Z and Mr A. So you pick 5 card out from the deck, the choice was fair and you could change your mind. Now even if I tryed to predict the 5 cards I want to predict their order, so Mr. X could you tell me if you would like those card to be shuffled or left in the same order?, Ok, great, Now open the folded piece of paper and read upside trough downside of the paper. ( proceed to the revelation )
Ok now what do you see wrong in this? First I dont build to a climax, second at the beginning I have a poor introduction, maybe that some people dont knows about canal-d, and some people are not interested in these feild, third but last I dont script my actions. so lets se how my script is now :
-Have you ever played at the lottery where there are little beads that get mixed in a machine and when theire thourougly mixed beads roll out of the machine and if you had all the numbers... In the right order... you would win money, or prizes. Imagine... Being able to predict down to the numbers... the order of the beads, a shurefire way to earn money... Infinite wealth to the one who can.
[ Pause to let the audience think ]
-So said, I will try to duplicate this tonight, will you lady come on stage? Thank you, what is your name?
[ Let the spectator come to the RIGHT of the stage ]
-Ok gertrude I would like you to mix the cards... Mix them thorougly, Just like a loterry machine would do...
- So you mixed them at your heart content, are you shure you dont want them to be shuffled some more? Its all about you.
[ If she mix the card some more just pause and take your pad, If not : ]
- Now I will try to predict the future, this is not easy, I would like you to concentrate, to visualise when I will ask you to pick a card...
[ Crumple the paper and hand it to the spectator to hold : ]
- take it with you, put it in a pocket or in your hand, make shure I wont touch it anymore.
-this said I would like you to pick any card out of the 52 cards.
[ as she/he lean present the deck and have a card choosen ]
- Ok, Now I have one card, but lottery machines alway use more then just one number, I hope not because if so I would love lottery... So I would like... hum... Lets say 4 more card, Is 5 card is resonable? Ok.
[ pick 4 other random person from the audience, Alway keep the deck in full view so they dont think you switch ]
- Now you all picked a card that is different from the deck, you had the chance to change your mind but you wanted so.
- Now even if the machine shoots out numbers, they got to be in the right order, so I would like you to tell me if I mix the card or I leave them in the same order.
[ Have her/him pick an option ]
- Great, Now we had 5 random card selected, and someone choosed the order of the cards.
[ make an eye contact with the spectator ]
- Take the crumpled paper and open it, make shure I dont touch it.
[ proceed to the revelation slowly, one card after the other, and dont look at them so you look more confident. ]
Now, do you see any improvement? I hope so, Here are a few pointers :
- I dont reveal the climax at the begining
- I build to a climax while keeping the illusion of playing the ''lottery''
- I use words like '' I will try, Its hard... '' To make the effect look harder, more impposible.
- I state sometimes «... just like a loterry machine...» to give the allusion that everything is TOTTALY random, and it is really.
- I state every action ( could me more detailed but my script is in french and I had some trouble )
A good way to get pointers from the audience
What have changed? By the experience of doing the trick over and over, and then having ''false clues '' How the trick might be done you change your patter to make it look more impossible. After a show for a large familly, they asked me if I wanted to stay they wanted to speak with me, much of them where interested in weird stuff like mentalism, magic etc. And one guy said «... Im shure that when he put the deck on the table he pick five other cards that was leaning on the table...» And other sentance, Its genuine, the trick could be done that way, but, you want to leave the audience clueless, so better do it. Its a good thing to ask the audience ( when you are starting out ) To tell you if they got any clues on how your tricks might be done, It helped me a lot on my patter.
Also here is a little quote I found In Ken Webers maximum entertainment :
What you want to do is first :
3- Rapt attention
4- necessary explanations and instructions.
I stated it earlier but I want to make this clear, IMPROVE! everytime you see something wrong work on it! remove the weak spots! The weak effects that dont got the reactions you wanted. When I first wrote my script I changed it more then 10 times. I chaged effects, I added humor, and kind of stuff you like when you see a good performer, you want it to be in your script.
Dont stop only with scriptwriting!
Having a good script is a good thing, But you want to have everything down, Preparation is the key, there is some stuff that you wont see when you write your script that you will only see when you are practicing, your body language, how you act. where will I put the mike after that line? because I have to use my left hand. All kind of stuff like that, SWEAT the details, when you practice alway have an extra sheet or two in your script to write notes. A video camera is a VERY usefull tool, and a lot of people dont do it, but when you record, SPEAK look at the camera like it would be an unblinking human eye, You want to look exactly as you would do on stage.
There are some other finer details that you will only see while performing, but dont worry, much of the time ( if you are prepared of course ) there will be no big deals.
Another thing that I saw on penguin is : «... I have a show in one week, what effect should I buy ? ...» EVEN if you are performing for 5 mintutes, I dont even care, You should be prepared months in advance! presenting a show is like working on an oral production in colledge, there is a lot of stress, It count a lot, and you need to be prepared months in advance. So Dont be caugh at the last second, better say no to someone when you are not prepared then to cry after your show a week after.
Choosing the right material
What suits you? Oh! mentalism? can you pull it off, because you are 12 years old... Is there any way of changing the presentation so it looks a feat of magic instead of mentalism hummm... Choosing the right material is very important, stick with what you like and not what you like about criss angel, he can levitate from building to building, so do you? I think not because you cant do it with movie maker... HUM! sorry. Much people alway tends to find effects that are more baffling then other, Its a good thing to astonish your audience, but will it be entertaining? Scroll up and look, there it is , what you want to do first is entertain. A signer will not astonish is audience, but he will entertain them with his skill, and that's what you want to do, and skill takes experience, dont expect to have it the first time. There's no supermans.
Transistion between tricks
This is your achille heels, The transistion between a strong climax and the begining of another effect. Make shure you work a lot on this. You will see a nice technique of acheiving this when you will scroll down.
Make shure you give them some time to be astonished, to give the applause you wanted. The next step is not «... I have a deck of card somewhere...» Alway use patter before you show the props, then while speaking you can nonchanlantly grab your deck in your pocket and follow with the effect.
But as I said dont go to fast, let them be astonished, and if you want you can ditch your props in the meantime. Make shure you do it fast though.
More to structurise your script
Its nice to have a script, a plan, but I alway like a bit more professionalism, it dont hurt to make something presentable to your magician helder so he gives you a few tap on the back uh? And since its a piece of your creation, a piece of yourself and your imagination, give it a bit of respect, dont let it get dirty in ol' drawers.
So from now what you think you should have is :
- A plan
- A script
- Blank pages to take notes.
What I want to have :
- A presentation page
- A plan
- A script
- What you need for the show
- Some taught
- Bibliography / Videography
- Pictures, quotes from the audience.
Dont worry, You may make it before the 100 page count... *caugh*
The prensentation page
The presentation page is the first page you will see on your script, You will see here :
- The tittle / name of your show
- The kind of magic it is ( Ex: kid show )
- The date of creation
- The effect taught
- How long the show is
- Whats it is best suited for (ex: close-up )
I like my text to be centered in the middle of the page, I write two piece of information and then make a lot of space and then write two more, Here's a screenshot to help you see.
(Note: the effect where not in order)
Just click on the image to get it enlarged, its just a nice way to dont have a brick of paper that start
What you need for the show
List everything you will need for your show, so when you set-up your suit, your table and your wallets you will know what to put, it will be easy and fast, Like a deck of cards, and dont forget to write where you want it to be, On the table, in a pocket in your sleeve? Write everything down. I also like to use the same '' plan '' then the ''plan'' page ( hope I haven't confused you ). Where I do groups like «... Suits, table, pants, clips/holders...» and I write everything that goes in each pocket, where on the table etc. Sweat the details on that one, Its a shurefire way to make shure you bring everything you need, because doing a invisible deck routine where you realise you dont have one is not a funny thing...
This is your inspiration, you will note here what you would like your show to be, what effect would you remove, etc. Sometime when you will decide to rewrite the script it will be a nice pointer page to add, because it will be easy to track down what you where thinking, also when you want to fill your cart at PENGUINMAGIC! you will be shure you wont forget anything. This is simply a page with text, no big deal.
Bibliography / Videography
I like to add this because when you are looking for an effect that you perform and you want to take back a look in your books / dvd's you know where to go, Just scroll up if you want the exact technique to do a Bibliography or a videography.
Pictures / quotes
This is a nice touch that I add to my script, at the end I put a bit of pictures and quotes, Its alway heartwarming to see them, And maybe it will give you some inspiration!
Good essays from other writers
Here is a few essay that touch a bit the subject that I loved, it would be nice for you to read them, it may give a few pointers that I haven't gave you:
Adjones essays :
Keeping a notebook - http://www.penguinmagic.com/discuss/vie ... p?t=137548
Evolution of a magician - http://www.penguinmagic.com/discuss/vie ... highlight=
I would like to give a couple of taps in the back for these two great essays, Especially Adjones wich made a lot of good essays in the past month. Also, I would like to felicitate everyone that takes a bit of time to read essays, Its not the ''hottest'' place on penguin, and I think it should be because it gives a lot of advices, and pointers that everyone should know.
Hope you had enough courage to read it all before you comment on it! Im shure I forgot quite a few points that I wanted to touch but dont worry its only the '' part 1 '' I will post a ''part 2'' soon.
So, will you write a script? If you where alredy making one, maybe I have helped you? Please comment, I have put a loooot of work and reacherch to make that essay, And one thing I dont want is you quoting the entire essay to give you impression because it will take too much place in the page. Well with this said, you can PM me with whatever question you have I will be happy to help you!
AND THIS MAKES IT! my longest essay ever written, hope you liked it!