MacGuffin

When I started writing The Nibelungen Hoard I thought it was to be a treasure hunt story with good guys and bad guys clashing as they chase the fantasy, a story of the likes of Indiana Jones or Treasure Island. Maybe it is, the reader can decide. What I didn’t realize until one of my reviewers, who loved the book, yet expressed dismay and frustration with the ending, was I’d made use of a classic story-telling devise. Even though I’m a huge movie buff, I was not aware that I’d employed a MacGuffin.

What’s a MacGuffin? Here’s what Wikipedia says:

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.

Yes, the Hoard joined the ranks of such renowned objects as The Maltese Falcon, The Ark of the Covenant, and Sergeant Ryan.

While the devise has been around since the first tale ever told, credit Alfred Hitchcock for the name. He is quoted as saying, “The main thing I’ve learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing. I’m convinced of this, but I find it very difficult to prove it to others.”

I would have loved it had the Falcon actually been the one encrusted with jewels, but Dashiell Hammett had a better idea. So, when you read TNH, don’t blame me about the ending.


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