This is for those of you who are currently working on creating better performances or don’t know where to start. Sorry for writing such a long thread but I wanted it to be detailed. For a while now I have really wanted to focus strictly on performance. I knew what I wanted, but felt it would be extremely difficult. I wanted to junk everything I had learned over the years and start from scratch. Recently I decided to dedicate myself to this daunting task. I was going to completely tear myself down and rebuild from the ground up. Performance was my main goal, everything else would come second. I decided that I would start by working on four effects and four effects only. I promised myself that I would not work on any other effects until after I had completed my challenge. I chose each effect based off a routine I had been toying around with in my head, so that when I was done I would have a complete routine to perform while I repeated this process for other effects. Over the course of time I will build several routines, all of which have been broken down to the last detail to make sure they work together. I also watched several different performances of the effects I was working on to see what I liked and what I didn’t like. I wanted to master each and every aspect of my effect and in order to do that I knew that repetition was key. I decided that I would practice each effect 1500 times over the course of two months. I would not learn or practice anything else unless it would improve one of the effects I was working on. If I wanted to learn a new sleight I would have to see how it would work with my current effects and whether or not it would make the effect better, or just be something I threw in because I thought it looked cool. If it didn’t fit, I wrote it down on my backburner list. This is the list that I will use to select the next batch of things to work on. The four effects gave me plenty to work on including double-lifts, triple lifts, LePaul’s bluff pass, card dribble, palming, false cuts, Elmsly count, the Biddle move, card forces, card controls, shuffle controls, etc. It's been month now and I am almost half-way through. It's not as easy as I thought it would be as is difficult to start from scratch. The biggest question I’ve had was is it worth it? I decided I would perform since I hadn’t in the last month (this was done on purpose as to not go back into subconscious thought due to being nervous, etc. until I had enough time to retrain my brain.) The reactions I have gotten are great. I've always gotten minor jitters when I perform for people I don’t know, but they are now gone by the time I’m done shuffling during my opener. I know everything I need to do, when I need to do it, and I feel I have been able to perform much stronger. The biggest revelation that what I’m doing has worked was the reaction I got from a family member. I have performed for her many times, but never really got too much of a reaction. She looks at me awkwardly sometimes, laughs at certain things, but she’s never really believed in magic. I performed my routine I had been working on knowing she has seen me perform 3 of the 4 effects before. This time she was constantly laughing in amazement and seemed truly mesmerized. When I finished the routine I set my deck on the table. She sat and stared at the deck for about 2 minutes stunned. She then came up to me and started questioning what I was doing, and how long I have been practicing to get as good as I had. Until now I had felt I was pretty good. I always got great reactions, and people appeared to be entertained. But now it seems so much different. I feel I truly perform much better than I did, and I am only half-way through. If you are interested in changing the way you perform certain tricks, or you really want to break your effects down I have given the steps I used below. In the beginning strip the effect down to the bare essentials. No patter, no extras, just the sleights and required handling. Practice the effect only, nothing else. Doing this broke my bad habits, and got me back to performing nothing other than the sleights and motions needed to do the effect. After doing the effect this way 100-150 times start to work on the actual performance aspect of the effect. Stealing from Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz, think of what the effect would be like if you were truly magic. This is what you want the effect to look like. If it can’t look identical, I would try and keep it as close as possible (For example, in d+M’s Lapse there is an adjustment made to the deck immediately after you set the card on the table. If I were truly magic I wouldn’t need to adjust the deck. I’m not magic so I need to keep this movement as subtle as possible). Once you have a general idea as to what the effect should look like analyze everything else in the effect. Think of everything you do in this effect, from your sleights to your cuts. Even jokes or patter. If it doesn’t enhance the effect take it out. This can be the most difficult part. Sometimes things I like to do don’t make the effect stronger, so I have to take them out. Sometimes I talk when I shouldn’t. I’ve caught myself playing with the deck when I shouldn’t be. Pick one effect each day to start and I focus solely on what I can do to improve the effect. Which aspects should really be emphasized, which should you keep subtle? When should you talk? Does snapping your fingers before revealing the card strengthen or weaken the color change? Break each of the four effects down like this and practice each one at least 25 times a day. It doesn’t seem like that much, but I find that to truly practice these four effects completely and thoroughly takes me approximately 2 hours a day. I have sheets I use to track my progress, if you would like some PM me.