Themed acts have a particular charm to them. The act is held together by the theme, and constructing a show or an act is relatively easy, because the selection of material is dictated by the act's theme.
Say you want to create a golf themed act. Everything centres around golf. The performer is a golfer, all his props and effects relate to golf. This has been done many times before, an very good acts evolved. The creation is easy, many suitable tricks immediately spring to mind: Multiplying Golf Balls, the Billy McComb thing with the green silk and the golf ball, magic with the golf club (the Audley Walsh vanishing and appearing canes were originally intended to be used on golf clubs), the Egg Bag done with a golf ball, the caddy is the centrepiece, and the list goes on.
You see, it is quite easy to construct a nice act with this method. Here is my favourite method for doing this.
ONE — the research phase. First, I sit down and think about what props in a golf setting we are talking about. I list — without thinking of a magic effect at this stage — each and every object I can imagine being connected with golf. Every small item goes on this list. It is a vast collection of props. The more objects I can find, the better. I also research the history, important persons in the field, the evolution, the trends, and all that belongs to the theme.
In our golf themed act, this includes the clothing, eventual hats, shoes, and all the performer wears. It involves golf carrying bags (the later centrepiece) and the stuff that is found around the golf area. Golf was apparently invented in Scotland, so there is a link to a Scottish costume, the Egg Bag in Tartan edition, and so on. Lots of interesting and thought-provoking ideas.
TWO — the magic effects. Second step is to assign magic effects to the objects I found. Here the research in the magic archives start. Ask Alexander offers a great function with full-text search, so the search topic "golf" should bring a lot of results. I make a list with possible effects, using my prop list.
Additionally, I research what the dealers have to offer. Sometimes they have stuff that is either related to my theme/topic, or could be modified to do so.
Typically, I would end up with about fifty to seventy different effects to choose from. Each effect is written on one file card. The use of file cards (and not a computer software) makes things easier later.
THREE — the creation. Third is the actual creation phase of the act. I usually work with the "Seven Notes" system, which gives me a basic and working structure. Into this structure, I place, remove, add, replace, and change my file cards with the effects. I shove them around, think about them, combine effects, create transitions, etc. All this is much quicker and easier with actual file cards on the table.
Within just a few hours, I have the basic act together. I will file it into a folder, and put it aside for some days, to let my brain do the rest of the work. Whenever I have a new idea, it is easy to add to the file.
At some point, I will put it into reality. I collect the necessary props, and start building the prototypes.
And that's it. An easy start in three steps.