As I move onto creating a wider narrative for the on-going stories which will be making up the next books in my Dragon series, I find myself having to work out the specific driving forces for each book. I’ve had the overall story planned out in my head since day one but the individual steps and adventures needed to be fleshed out.
What do my characters do on the journey towards the end of the series? How do we give them lives which are important and vital? For each and every book I have planned, what is the need they all have to keep going on to the end? In each book, what is the Macguffin?
The Macguffin is the object, desire or other motivator which gets the ball rolling. Alfred Hitchcock and George Lucas have discussed the use of the macguffin in their film making so this isn’t a new topic but not everyone could recognise them. The Macguffin is the reason everything is taking place. I’ve watched the first Transformers film recently and the Allspark, the object to breathe life into machines, is the macguffin. All the activity is caused because everyone wants to get their hands on it. The one ring from Lord of the Rings, the Teseract from Avengers Assemble (UK title) and various religious artifacts from the Indiana Jones films as well.
This is the thing they’re all after. The thing that says this is why these people are doing what they’re doing. And that gives us the importance.
It could be very easy to be dismissive of the idea of a macguffin. The term doesn’t really lend itself to high brow consideration, instead sounding more like a slang term to describe an unfortunate side effect from eating too much fast food. That said, it is a vital part of the journey every story moves along so the macguffin has to be treated with respect.
Not only does the macguffin drive the characters on, it gives the reader a reason to continue as well. If the reader can understand the value of whatever it is everyone is chasing after, that will sit them front and centre of the action.
So I can’t risk getting it wrong. The macguffin really is the holy grail of the story, Indiana Jones could tell you that.