marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

the MacGuffin motive

A MacGuffin is an object in the story that the characters care about -- but the readers don't.  We just empathize with the characters' desires about it and let it motivate the story.  The marvelous gemstone the Lake of Wine, that the thief Corry wants to steal to avenge his father's murder by the family that owns it.  Or the thinly characterized kidnap victim.

As I was coming to the climax of the story I realized I was in the opposite pickle.  I have the object, or rather the person, that someone wants.  And if the readers don't care about him, the story crashes and burns because he's a major character.

But why does the villain want him?

Well, because of the story about how he was protected from magical harm while a child, and the thought that his blood or something about him could carry that virtue of breaking magic into spells.

Ah, but why does she want something with that virtue?

At which point I realized that the sky was the limit.  She could want to break a curse on herself.  She could want to break, or evade, a spell on some object or place.  She could want it to make it quicker to clean up when on the road and casting a lot of spells at a stop.

She doesn't even have to want it herself.  The possibilities of selling it are enormous, because it could be the motive of anyone who wants something with the virtue of breaking enchantments.

And from the character's point of view, and his friends' -- well, I probably will delineate her motives, but it doesn't really matter to any of the important characters.
Tags: macguffin, motives and purposes, travel, world-building: economics, world-building: magic (effects), world-building: magic (objects)
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