Memorable Magic: Wrap-Up

Published on Thursday, November 29, 2007 in , , , , , ,

Made To StickI hope you've enjoyed my Memorable Magic series. As we wrap up both the series and the month of November, I thought I would include some closing thoughts.

So that everyone can link to a single post, as well as understand the purpose of each principle, I'm including this list:
* For clarity, employ simplicity.
* To get and keep attention, employ the unexpected.
* To help people understand and remember, employ concreteness.
* For better audience conviction, develop credibility.
* To help people care about your performance, employ the principles of emotions.
* To inspire people, use stories.

Chip and Dan Heath propose the acronym SUCCES (success without the final s) to help remember these six principles: Simplicity, the Unexpected, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories.

If you go back and look at the example videos in each post, you'll notice each of them are actually a mix of a number of these principles. You don't need to limit yourself to a single principle, nor do you need to employ every principle. The basic idea is that the more of the principles you use in a particular routine, the more memorable it is likely to be.

Also, remember the concept I mentioned in the stories post. Each of these ideas is made more effective when you use them to move from common sense to uncommon sense. Think about your favorite movies: Star Wars IV starts with Luke believing a few group of amateurs can't be effective against the Empire, while The Wizard of Oz starts out with Dorothy believing that they don't understand her at home. By the end of both of those movies, uncommon sense prevails.

Another concept that helps make magic memorable is sharing a universal idea as if it were a particular. This is a difficult idea to boil down quickly, but you can learn more about this idea in James Sedgwick's posts What is Art? and Certainty and Art. It is also discussed thoroughly in the unfortunately-out-of-print book Rants into Raves. However, you can find two excerpts of that book online, the first being The Act and the second being this snippet from the Wrap-Up chapter.

From the Story Fanatic blog, which I mentioned earlier, there are several posts to which I'd like to draw your attention. Thinking of Your Audience First helps you understand the effect on your audiences of even seemingly minor decisions in your performance. In addition to the principles of keeping attention, a good understanding Of Ticking Clocks and the Ending of Stories is a great help.

While Dramatica, the creative writing software whose techniques are featured in Story Fanatic, is geared towards grand argument stories, magic routines tend to be more like short stories. Katharine Huntley's questions about James Thurber's Catbird Seat is a great example of a simpler approach that is suitable for story magic. Applying these questions to your own routine is a great way to add true depth and emotion.

If you're confused by any of the terms here, I suggest reading the Dramatica comic book (PDF, opens in new window) and Dramatica's Theory section.

You'll be hard pressed to find more detail on these ideas than the Made to Stick book itself, so I highly recommend you buy it and read it. I'll wrap the Memorable Magic series, and this post, up with this slideshow, which sums up the concepts quite well:

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