A MacGuffin As A Writer’s Tool


A MacGuffin is a plot device that doesn’t really ever develop into something of significance. It is a useful tool used by authors to develop the plot in other ways.

The falcon– in the film: The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart, is a MacGuffin.

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(The Daily Mail)

“In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. The specific nature of a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot. The most common type of MacGuffin is an object, place, or person; other, more abstract types include money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or some unexplained driving force.

The MacGuffin technique is common in films, especially thrillers. Usually the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act and thereafter declines in importance. It may re-appear at the climax of the story, but sometimes is actually forgotten by the end of the story.” (wiki)


Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.05.56 AM (Daily Mail)


The Film Noir classic The Maltese Falcon follows private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) as he becomes embroiled in an increasingly intricate plot revolving around a jewel-encrusted, black statuette that had been given in 1539 by the Knights of Malta to Spanish king Charles V. Spade would later refer to the eponymous statuette as “the stuff that dreams are made of.” John Huston made his directing debut on this Dashiell Hammett adaptation, which influenced countless detective tales to follow.

For more examples of MacGuffin’s in movies, go to this link:


Today’s Assignment:

Add a MacGuffin to your story.