Friday, March 8, 2013

MacGuffin Muffins

Sometimes there is nothing tastier than a muffin.
In the case of writing stories, there's nothing tastier than a MacGuffin! Most stories and plots are much more exciting and tantalizing to readers if they contain that elusive element, referred to in film and literature as The MacGuffin (aka McGuffin).

Many writers have probably heard of the valuable MacGuffin. It's rare for a writer not to know one. However, there may be some who have captured the special element, but have never run across the fun terminology. Alfred Hitchcock made the term popular in the 1930s, but insisted that he did not coin the term. I particularly like Alfred Hitchcock's explanation of a MacGuffin. (<- Click on link, it's got Scots in it and lions. ;))
Always had his hands on the best MacGuffins, but felt they should be unimportant.

A MacGuffin (from Wikipedia) is a plot device. It takes the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist (and sometimes the antagonist) is willing to sacrifice almost anything to pursue, protect, control and/or acquire. There is often no narrative explanation as to why the all important "thing" is so important.

The specific nature of the MacGuffin may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, or left open to interpretation. It can even be completely unimportant to the overall plot.

Feels MacGuffins should be important to the plot.
Authors and filmmakers have differing opinions on how important the MacGuffin should be to the plot of a story.  

All agree, however, that it is *the* device employed to capture and keep the reader/observers' attentions.

An example would be the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark, and a classic example of a MacGuffin that foils the protagonist in the end is The Maltese Falcon. Then there's "Rosebud".

I found Wikipedia an invaluable resource for MacGuffin explanations and origins. Here are some more resources to get your MacGuffin explanations and examples:

TV Tropes

The Free Dictionary

Top Ten Movie MacGuffins

I am totally craving muffins now. I'll take chocolate, please! I hope you enjoy exploring MacGuffins and please share your ideas for some good story MacGuffins in the comments!  You never know what might show up in my Works in Progress.
Vegan Magic Chocolate Muffins

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