The Red Pen of Doom

Conventional wisdom about writing is conventionally wrong.

3 Mighty MacGuffin Generators

If you’re a writer, you’ll need to use a MacGuffin now and then.

Spy movies need a microfilm containing the real names and identities of every undercover agent employed by the CIA / GRU / MI-6, with the good guys and bad guys both willing to do whatever it takes to find and destroy that MacGuffin, which the hero happens to pick up by accident in the luggage carousel at O’Hare.

Sci-fi novels need some kind of techno-babble MacGuffin, like a repulsive helix inverter, which can tweak your DNA or whatever and create an army of alien super soldiers.

Fantasy movies need a magical ring that turns you invisible but does nothing about your big hairy feet or the fact you’re the size of a Smurf, or maybe an enchanted vorpal sword of inifinite sharpness that can lop off the head of the invincible Dragon of Instant Fiery Death that killed your father, uncle, grandfather, second cousin, first wife, baby sister and that idiot neighbor kid who used to throw rocks at your horse, so your not overly sad about the dragon having that silly fool for brunch.

Alfred Hitchcock was famous for using MacGuffins in his films. If the hero is on a quest, he needs to be questing for something. Really, it doesn’t matter what. It’s the journey that matters.

Here’s a spiffy MacGuffin generator by Jordan McCollum.

Use it. Then visit her blog and show her some love. That’s how this thing works. Pay it forward.

MacGuffin Generator

Here’s two more MacGuffin generators on the SAME PAGE, for sci-fi MacGuffins and silly ones.

Sci-Fi or Silly McGuffin Generator

(Yes, they spell it wrong, the infidels.)

What is your favorite MacGuffin of all time? And which film, TV show or novel wins the prize for Silliest MacGuffin of All Time?

Let the literary flame wars begin. I believe any random Star Trek episode will have silly and stupid sci-fi MacGuffins like a pressing need to replace every dilithium crystal in warp core of the Enterprise.


This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

About Guy Bergstrom

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot.

4 comments on “3 Mighty MacGuffin Generators

  1. Ros
    May 11, 2012

    McGuffin, MacGuffin – I looked it up when I built that tool, and didn’t find a definitive answer for either spelling. I think it’s one of those words that’s shading into both forms being acceptable, because of the way it’s used. Language evolves.

    I suspect I’ve just uttered heresy, given the title of this blog.


  2. juliabarrett
    May 11, 2012

    Oh, Magneto – he’s a MacGuffin all by himself!


  3. juliabarrett
    May 11, 2012

    Comic books, always – Green Lantern. Spiderman. Mr. Fantastic. Batman is the only one without a MacGuffin, but he does have his utility belt. However, this is why I don’t like Batman. He’s not a REAL superhero. I guess his MacGuffin is technology, but still…
    Hmmm. Let me think. Is there a MacGuffin in Eye of the Needle? Only the nude bathtub scene.


  4. rich
    May 11, 2012

    i’d have to go with “pulp fiction.”


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