Change How You Think About Changes

Improve your magic with this principle.

Illustration of magician performing cups and balls

When I’m consulting on a project, and a client tells me they intend to make something huge disappear, my first question is, “Can we just make it appear instead?” Method-wise, it’s much easier to make something invisible when no one is looking for it.

When you vanish an object, an audience’s first thought is…

Crikey, where did that go?

…and then they will proceed to look for where the object could have ended up.

You’re leaving them with a question, an unsatisfying conclusion.

When you make an object appear, you’re giving them a button. A clear ending and something to focus on, which is usually a delight. Even if they do think…

Crikey, where did that come from?

…it’s too late for them to look for where it was hiding, and the moment has passed.

Vanishes can be as astonishing as appearances and sometimes stronger. But it’s worth asking the question, could this be as powerful as an appearance instead?

There’s a similar question you should apply to changes (any trick that involves a magical change). That question is… should we be doing this the other way around?

We hear the term “ends clean” in magic trick trailers, so we’re all pretty up to speed with the concept. If you’re changing a blue object into a red one, the red object must be fully examinable, and it matters far less if the spectator can closely inspect the blue one. There are ways for both objects to be examinable, but we can agree it’s more important that the second object is examinable.

You want that continuous shot from the moment the magic color change happens to the moment it’s in the spectator’s hands being examined.

Surprisingly, I still see tricks that start ungimmicked and end gimmicked. This tends to be because the final object in most magical changes tends to be unusual. So, that object needs to be fabricated. Perhaps you’re changing the internals of one fruit for another or making a regular apple become jumbo-sized. The second object is likely going to be human-made, so many magicians will make it unexaminable.

A plain brick wall changing to a wall filled with colorful graffiti is a good example. The final form of a graffitied wall isn’t that unusual, but many magicians, when working on a method, will be asking this question…

How do I make all this graffiti appear?

Whereas the question consultants would ask is…

How do we hide the graffiti from the start?

Perhaps a fake brick wall layer printed on fabric that an accomplice can quickly pull away to reveal the graffiti.

What’s amazing about this is most magicians already apply this thinking idea to restorations. Working hard to make a signed playing card appear ripped when it isn’t, for example.

But now that you’re changing how you think about changes, you can push that thinking to an extreme….

Let’s examine a concept and principle used by successful consultants called the Never Change principle. And the concept is simple; what if the object you’re changing never actually changes and was always impossible from the start?

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