A few years back, I spent some time as a magician’s assistant. It’s not as glamorous as you might think, but I learned quite a bit about life and people. Some of the lessons are directly applicable to fiction writing.
1. Hide things in plain sight.
You don’t have sleeves, smoke, or mirrors, but you have foreshadowing and implication.
2. Always have something going on behind the scenes.
Your props include subtext, miscommunication, buried hatchets, unintended consequences, and plot twists.
3. Direct their attention where you want it.
Use your words wisely. By focusing on a detail you can make it clear that it is important, or use it to conceal a bit of foreshadowing.
4. Coordination is everything.
There has to be a balance with pacing, characterization, plot development, setting description, and so much more. If one thing is off, the illusion dissipates.
5. Believability is in action, not words.
6. Know more than you’re telling.
The bulk of the characters’ backstories and formative scenes need not be mentioned, but you need to know them, so you can hint at them and create the illusion of real lives and a real world.
7. It’s not a one-man show.
Editors, beta readers, proofreaders, and cover designers should all be a part of your team.
8. Always leave the audience wanting more.
They should be attached to your characters, sad about losing the connection, and satisfied with the ending so that they want to read another of your titles.
At the heart of it, a magician and a writer are the same. A magician tells a story with his hands. A writer tells a story with his imagination. Both must entertain the audience.
Want to go deeper? Sign up for my email newsletter.