So I was watching “Penn and Teller: Fool Us” on ITV 2. For those of you unfamiliar with the show and it’s concept, it’s a competition where amateur illusionists are invited to perform one trick in front of a studio audience and the world-famous Las Vegas magicians Penn and Teller. If, after the trick has been performed, neither Penn nor Teller can figure out how it was executed, then that magician has fooled them, and wins a trip to Vegas to perform on P&T’s show.

Another magician/illusionist I’m mad about is Criss Angel, whose TV series “Mindfreak” continues to live up to it’s name.

Anyway, both of these shows got me thinking about the psychological aspects of us, the audience, when it comes to magic. We know, deep down, that all we’re seeing is a combination of anything from sleight of hand, misdirection, psychology, science, engineering, mental conditioning… The list goes on. What matters is that even know we know every trick consists of a combination of these elements, another part of us still wants to be fooled. We want to experience that sense of wonder and amazement, to be baffled by the seemingly-impossible made possible before our very eyes. For that short while, we don’t care how it was done, just that it has happened, and that it was amazing.

It’s called the suspension of disbelief, and you know what else relies heavily on the selfsame suspension?

Writing.

(Oh yeah, baby – Dave is doing a triple-writing-whammy up in here!)

All books are magic – expertly woven illusions. After all, they’re just words on a page, right? But, just like a master magician such as Criss Angel can make you believe a man can levitate, a good book can make you believe a man can fly. Or save the world singlehandedly. Or travel to faraway worlds or realms. And they can do it with nothing more than words.

Whereas magicians rely on sleight of hand to aid in their misdirection, writers have to be more cunning; they have to write in such a way that you forget you’re reading their words at all. The greatest illusion every successful author performs is the act of vanishing from their own work, leaving the reader with an adventure in a world that jumps from the page, engulfing their imagination.

Everyone can put words to paper. The trick is to make those words the key to your world as simply as possible. Create the illusion that you’re not there, guiding the reader’s adventure, and the illusion is complete.

That’s why writers are some of the greatest magicians in the world.

Until tomorrow!

Dave

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