I want to talk about
They’re not those breakfast sandwich things that you get at the Golden Arches.
McGuffin = MacGuffin = Maguffin
Noun; an object or event in a book or a film which serves as the impetus for the plot
Word Origin for McGuffin
C20: coined (c. 1935) by Sir Alfred Hatchplot Hitchcock
Most stories, whether books or movies, have a beginning, middle, and end. Some stories though, have lots of action, and a great climax, but need a boost to get underway.
Dashiell Hammet’s novel, The Maltese Falcon was a great novel of the 20th century. There was lots of action – treachery, deceit, lies, double crosses, assaults, murders, and back-stabbing – literal and figurative. When the exciting ride finally came to a stop, the little sculpture that everyone was fighting and scheming about, was just a small, ugly, statue of a bird, just an excuse for all that excitement.
At the last Star Trek movie that I went to – Star Trek Into Darkness – for the first half hour, I fidgeted and twitched in my seat. Is this thing never going to get underway? I even considered walking out – and I NEVER walk out of a movie, especially a Star Trek.
What should have been served, hot off the griddle, as the McGuffin, the impetus, to catch and hold the viewers’ attention, was dropped cold, an hour and a half later, as a by-then, un-suspenseful and un-dramatic ‘Great Reveal,’ a story of brotherly betrayal, abandonment and revenge.
So remember, those of you who want to write – even if it’s just blog-posts. If you think that your story needs a little something to draw readers’ attention, get that McGuffin out early. Craft a catchy title, and compose an interest-grabbing opening line. Once you’ve got ‘em hooked, you can reel ‘em in.
I’d be reel real happy if you stopped back in a couple of days, for another instalment of Do-It-Yourself Philosophy. Phil will be reel happy too. 😉