Scriptwriting

Thoughts on how to create patter for magic routines. But then, patter doesn’t seem to be the right word for what we need in a magic routine, script would be the better word.

Scripting in magic is an absolutely necessary thing to do. You cannot hope to develop a good magic routine without a proper script. When writing a script, you will check the internal structure of the trick/routine as well. You will see where misdirection is necessary, you will learn about the important stage blocking, eventually spectator handling, and dramaturgy for the routine. Therefore, scripting is a must.

We have seen a couple of books on scripting emerge from the magic market, and that is a good thing. Unfortunately, most of them don’t show a practical way of actually doing the script-writing. They are good on theory and principles, but lack simple details: what software to use, the format, the inspiration, the research, how to build an archive, and how to proceed with step-by-step instructions. All this information would have made my life a lot easier if I had it had at the time I began seriously writing scripts for my routines.

So in this series of articles, I will give you my experiences with various writing tools, techniques and procedures. In the end, this should be helpful for you to write your own scripts.

1. Tools

1.1 Software For Writing

Where to start? Obviously, at the most important tools for scriptwriting: the writing tools. You’ll have to get your script down to paper. You may ask: pen and paper, computer or dictation gadget?

I used all of them. Nowadays, I write most of my scripts on the computer. I use a simple MacBook and few software applications to get the job done. Today, we have an endless amount of software at our disposal, and most of them would do the job well. Be this on the desktop computer, laptop, tablet or even smartphone. You can write whenever you want, and wherever you are (which you won’t do).

SCRIVENER – I use this for organizing all the scripts I may need for different shows. It is a very good software, aimed mainly at professional writers. You can achieve almost any task and project with it, and an advantage is that you can store your research results in folders in the same project, so you have everything in one place. The only thing it sucks a bit is the formatting of professional scripts, therefore, I use these:

HIGHLAND – a software that writes in markdown and – using just a few shortcuts in the writing – can produce a clean, professional theatre or movie script. This has saved me tons of hours formatting my texts with Word, LibreOffice or other blown up writing software (they use special scriptwriting templates). Highland is simple and gets the job done without effort. You get a professional formatted script in no time, and you will learn to act upon such a script. The learning of text and routines is much easier with a professional formatted script, and generations of actors can’t be wrong.

TEXTEDITOR – here I am using Sublime Text for many years. Not to say that it is worse or better than other text editors, I just got used to it. In fact, almost any simple text editor will do what we need for our magic scripts.

I don’t use popular movie writing software, mostly because these applications are expensive, but moreover they are way to feature-rich. We don’t need that enormous weapon for our scripts in magic.

NOTEBOOKS – I am a big advocate of hand-written notes, and, therefore, keep notebooks for as long as I can think. All the new ideas go into these, in handwritten form. From them, I extract the ideas and open a new writing project in one of the other applications, when I feel ready for writing a patter, routine or script.