MacGuffins are nouns in a story that drive the people and plot out of their normal routine and into fiction. In the end, they probably don’t actually matter, but without them, the story doesn’t have a compelling reason to get going. Respected and experienced creators have different definitions, but for the purpose of these prompts, the macguffin gets the hero (or villain) excited and traveling (or scheming).
The Mythical Cure –
Does your hero love someone who might need a tonic to keep them alive? Perhaps their love has been poisoned, or maybe your hero’s hero is in trouble and the roles have been reversed! Only your hero can save the day by finding the magic ingredient and getting back to their friend in time… This prompt even gives you a character arc! Your hero won’t feel like they’re the actual adventurer until they claim that agency and title at the end by doing all the things they think only the “true” hero could do.
Not sure about the tonic? How about ground unicorn horn?
Morning Caffeine Hit –
Sometimes narrative tension occurs because of violence. But maybe you’d like to increase your story tension and give the hero a purpose without it involving guns and swords and evil empires. What if your hero needs to get the perfect cup of coffee and muffins to present at the morning meeting because they’d really like to make a good first impression on the new boss? What if on their way to get said perfect pastries, everything that could go wrong…did?
Not gonna lie. This kind of story requires a fabulous voice to pull off well. But, you won’t develop that signature sound if you don’t practice. And, I’m going to double-dare you to write this without the third paragraph falling into backstory!
Treasure Hunt –
This seems really obvious, but maybe your hero needs some treasure to live the lavish lifestyle that they feel they’ve been promised. Perhaps, there’s a sidekick who’s good at hacking and a sexy martial arts expert who can seduce the key from the billionaire bachelor.
Or maybe in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory twist, your heroes get permission to dig for buried treasure and finds more than they bargained for!
Each of these prompts could be several genres. And some work better with a team over a lone protagonist. Stir up some bold elements and detailed settings, and you’ve got yourselves a story!
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Thanks for reading!