I would LOVE to know the true story of how they came up with this name!
“a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist (and sometimes the antagonist) is willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to pursue, protect or control, often with little or no narrative explanation as to why it is considered so important.”
The two movies involving an item serving the purpose of a MacGuffin were the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, and the 84-carat diamond in Snatch. The former played little part in the greater story, yet in the latter it was the one true link amongst the many disparate characters. That I could identify only two is probably an indictment on my movie knowledge. Tony DiNozzo would be so ashamed =\
To flesh out the concepts mentioned in the Wikipedia entry, I will apply each one to my ‘Big Project’.
The easiest spot to start is the official definition of a ‘plot device’. It is defined as ‘an object or character in a story whose only purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot.’
Some goal, desired object, or other motivator
The first mention of my Major MacGuffin is to be in Chapter 6, as the first main character introduced in the story discovers some hidden away information in a rarely-perused portion of the city’s library. Few people visit this library, but she does so due to her intense interest in history, and as a mode of escapism from her surroundings. That her city is utopian (hopefully) makes you wonder why she is unhappy in it…
The Major MacGuffin is all of the three items in the section’s title. The goal is to travel to a specific location, where an object is hidden, one which will allow her to satisfy her motivation. Whether it does, and if she should use it, is a different issue that will be explored throughout the series…
(Character) is willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to pursue, protect or control (it)
How far she is willing to go will be what drives her characterisation, and those around her. Though it was a hidden piece of knowledge in her home city, she may not be the only one who knows of it, and parts of its history…
(L)ittle or no narrative explanation as to why it is considered so important
That’s why the story stretches out to seven novels. Each book will provide one important piece to the greater puzzle of ‘Major MacGuffin’. I only hope the twists and turns leading through to Book 7 will make sense, especially once the ‘Game Changer’ is enacted…
The specific nature of (the plot device) is typically unimportant to the overall plot
Yeah, power is never important to the overall plot…
(The plot device) can sometimes take a more abstract form, as long as it strongly motivates key characters within the structure of the plot
It motivates more than just her. The team she builds over time all are motivated to find it, and for different reasons. The team that builds against her are motivated by it also, but why it motivates them (hopefully) shall be interesting to read.
It may come back into play at the climax of the story
Indeed it shall. The climax of the overall story is the fight for it, after it’s true nature is revealed. But who will be facing off for it? Will she survive everything and claim it? Will she be stopped? Will she even reach Book 7?
I would love to hear of your favourite MacGuffin, be it serious or funny or plain silly.