Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A life of it's own?

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. 
the story progressed.
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. 

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