On the other hand, my definition of book about writing is becoming quite flexible1, and I have already mentioned in the past that Hugard & Braué’s The Royal Road to Card Magic is not just one of the best stage and card magic books out there, but it’s also a damn good writing book, if you can read it with the right attitude.
Consider the following:
When the neophyte has mastered several tricks, he is faced with the necessity of routining them, that is to say, arrange them in the best possible order so that the fullest effect can be drawn from each feat and so that they will follow one another smoothly without any hesitation or delay. This programming of tricks is most important. If one relies solely on knowing a number of separate tricks, all too often one’s mind goes blank after a trick or two before the audience. This is true even with advanced cardmen. A floundering attempt is then made to recall some simple feat, and instead of arriving at a triumphant climax one has to close ignominiously.
To avoid such disaster, the only plan is to arrange one’s tricks in a certain sequence, so that, having started with one trick, the rest follow automatically with no effort of memory whatever. This routining will be found to be an interesting study. Roughly the plan should be to start with a good trick, one that arouses interest in the very beginning, continue with tricks the effects of which are on an ascending scale of interest, and finish with the strongest effect of the series.
And I’d say that’s perfect for writers, too.