The idea that I’m currently working on focuses on an object – what Alfred Hitchcock called a MacGuffin.
It’s usually something like stolen plans, or a treasure map, and the search for it drives the action, although Hitchcock was apparently of the view that its importance to the plot was not necessarily all that great, once
|Don't think any of these are my MacGuffin.|
My MacGuffin is very important. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but it has been hidden for a long time and now people are looking for it. I’m in the phase of working out plot strands – the planning, pre-writing stage. Rude remarks are made about when I will get to the writing stage, but I am ignoring them in a lofty way. It will get written, because I’m enjoying it, and it will pester me until I co-operate – I just don’t know how long that will take.
Anyway, back to my MacGuffin. I had a very strong idea of a set piece at the end of the book when the hiding place would be discovered, but having started to take that image apart I gradually realised that the setting I’d envisaged simply wasn’t going to work. See – that’s the benefit of this pre-planning stuff. I would have painted myself into a corner and had a problem getting out of it, right at the end of the book.
As a result of this, apart from having to re-think the end, I’ve reached the conclusion that my MacGuffin has its own story arc and that I may need to give it the same kind of attention that I would a character. Which is interesting, as I’ve never done that with an inanimate object before. Actually, it could be quite refreshing, as it can’t answer back, which live characters have a nasty habit of doing, even when they are only figments of my imagination, written on a page. Yes, I know that is wierd. I'm a writer - we learn to live with it.
So – the latest thinking is that the MacGuffin gets its own time line and a life of its own. It could be challenging, because the thing is operating on a time scale that is way outside and much longer than the time frame of the book. We shall see.
And the so-called end of the book? It will still be there, but modified. And it won’t be the end of the book – which gives me that chance of yet more layers and twists of plot.
It’s fun, this writing lark.