According to Author Dariel Fitzkee, The Trick Brain​, 1944

In his groundbreaking book, The Trick Brain, Fitzkee created a tool that has helped magicians create mind warping effects for decades. He taught us that the "How" of an effect is not as important as its presentation. The Trick Brain incorporates a series of insightful mental exercises that have helped magicians create mind warping effects for decades.

To accomplish this, Fitzkee reduced all magic tricks to nineteen specific categories. His book then examines many possible ways of combining these effects. The Trick Brain system goes on to define what we need to develop, defines the tools we can use, and how to expand an effect using alternate method effects. This book inspires us to reclaim magic props we no longer use.
The Trick Brain was definitely ahead of its time. It lets us appreciate the way magic is created and definitely starts us thinking in new ways. This book should be on every serious magician's shelf. 

We list Dariel Fitzkee's magic categories here. There are others that are more condensed, but we feel that Fitzkee's is the most diverse and accurate. For a detailed breakdown and explanation of the categories, read the book!

Production (appearance, creation, multiplication)
Vanish (disappearance, obliteration)
Transposition (change in location)
Transformation (change in appearance, character or identity)
Penetration (one solid through another)
Restoration (making the destroyed whole)
Animation (movement imparted to the inanimate)
Anti-gravity (levitation and change in weight)
Attraction (mysterious adhesion)
Sympathetic Reaction (sympathetic response)
Invulnerability (injury-proof)
Physical Anomaly (contradictions, abnormalities, freaks)
Spectator Failure (magician's challenge)
Control (mind over the inanimate)
Identification (specific discovery)
Thought Reading (mental perception, mind reading)
Thought Transmission (thought projection and transference)
Prediction (foretelling the future)
Extrasensory Perception (unusual perception, other than mind)


Magic has ten main performance styles. These styles tend to coincide with their intended venue, audience type, and audience size. Style categories include:

  • Bar/Restaurant/Table Magic
  • Street Magic/Impromptu Magic
  • Busking
  • Close-Up Magic
  • Escapes/Endurance/Danger Stunts
  • Mentalism/Mental Magic
  • Bizarre/Seance/Spiritualism
  • Stand-Up/Parlour Magic
  • Stage Magic/Illusions
  • Studio/Camera Angle/Post-production Editing


According to the magical team of Penn & Teller, Sleight of Hand employs seven basic techniques to accomplish the magic. 

  • Palm - To hold an object in an apparently empty hand.
  • Ditch - To secretly dispose of an unneeded object.
  • Steal - To secretly obtain a needed object.
  • Load - To secretly move an object to where it is needed.
  • Simulation - To give the impression that something that has not happened, has.
  • Misdirection - To lead attention away from a secret move.
  • Switch - To secretly exchange one object for another.



Magic is more than a trick. Once a magician masters the actual trick, he must fine tune the routine and performance so that it is entertaining. A magician may add humor, an emotion-tugging storyline, and originality to make his effect fun to watch. Anyone can perform a magic trick, but only a true magician can make it entertaining.

Structuring a series of these routines into an entertaining show is an art in itself; one that many novice magicians fail to master. A magic show is first and foremost a theatrical production. Most theatrical productions consist of three acts: Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution. Magic shows follow a similar structure with:

  • The Opener- The first act, our setup, establishes us as magicians in the minds our audience. This is when we hook our audiences and make them want to stay to see what happens next. Details may change based on a magician's style and stage persona. In general, we do our shortest, fasted paced, and most impressive tricks in the Opener. 
  • The Middle - This second segment, our confrontation or rising-action with the audience, slows things down a bit and generally includes audience participation. Mentalism, card bits, humor, and illusions with audience volunteers fit well here. The effects in this segment should be impressive and take longer than the opening effects. We are challenging and addressing the audience's belief in magic.
  • The Closer - This is the final effect; our resolution with the audience. This should be an elaborate effect that the audience will talk about after the show. Many magicians will make this their signature effect; an effect that becomes indelibly associated with this performer. It should be an effect that audiences anticipate seeing and will tell their friends about. The key here is that this is our biggest and best effect of the night. Create that closing effect that will drive the audience to return to our next show.​