This is a question we get asked a lot. Many magicians enjoy the prospect of creating or improving an act in order to compete against other magicians. It's generally not for the glory of winning, but the experience and development you can get by going through the whole competition process.
Over a couple of posts I'm going to give you some ideas and things to consider when you are creating that act in order to help you to get the most from competition at any level.
Today, I'd like to give you one thing to remember, and one piece of homework
YOUR FELLOW MAGICIANS ARE NOT YOUR COMPETITION. This is essential knowledge, not only in a magic competition, but in your life as a magician full stop. They are your colleagues, not your adversaries. We see so many magicians bemoaning that someone else "stole" their idea, or their trick, or their gig. In most cases, unfortunately, their complaints are fully justified. You do NOT steal from your colleagues, you work together for mutual benefit. The same applies in competitions. I know this sounds bizarre to some, but it is the only way that magic will grow. Even at FISM level I have seen acts who are competing against each other assisting backstage in each other's acts. When one wins the other, though disappointed, shares in the winners success because he was a part of that success by helping backstage. When we are able to share in each others successes, and help to pick each other up after disappointments, we will see magic as an artform progress.
Speaking of FISM, by looking at the acts in such a high level competition as the 'World Championship', we can learn so much about how to put together a winning act. Your homework is to read about these acts. You can read reviews of all of the performers at FISM 2000 here and FISM 2003 here. See if you can figure out what element the winning acts had, that the others didn't.
(Part 2 is here)