Today we are going to write a story with a Macguffin in.

What’s a Macguffin I hear you ask?

It’s a valuable object in a story that both the hero and villain want to possess.

The term ‘Macguffin’ was coined by the filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitchcock explains Macguffins

My thoughts on Macguffins

  • A Macguffin is a valuable object that drives the story.
  • The hero and villain take action to try and possess it.
  • A Macguffin can be a magic object.
  • It has emotional value for the hero.
  • And an importance in the villain’s plan.
  • Its true value is often hidden at the start of the adventure.
  • Sometimes it’s mentioned in the story title.

For example:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The Macguffin is the Philosopher’s Stone. A magical stone every wizard wants because it has special powers. Harry and his friend must collect clues and take action in order to find the Philosopher’s Stone before Voldermort does and uses it for evil.


The Macguffin is the Cogheart. (You can see I follow the method of mentioning it in the title). The Cogheart is a perpetual motion machine created by Lily’s papa, John Hartman. At first you don’t know what it does, but as the story progresses you find out and discover its true value, along with Lily, Robert and Malkin.

The Macguffin’s emotional value

In children’s fiction the Macguffin is normally an object with strong emotional value to the hero. Something that belonged to their parents, or was owned by someone they love.

In Moonlocket the Macguffin is a locket that once belonged to Robert’s ma. It helps Robert remember her and that’s why it has emotional value to him. But it also contains a map to a lost secret and that’s why Jack (the villain of the story) wants it.

Write a story with a Macguffin

Now you understand Macguffins, you can have a go at writing your own story using one.

  • Have a look around your house for an interesting and quirky object.
  • Pick an object that attracts you and inspires a lot of ideas.
  • With intriguing qualities that would be good to write about.
  • Examine your Macguffin and decide what function it has in your story.
  • What emotional value does it have for your hero?
  • What is its importance in your villain’s plan?

Now sit down and write a scene where your hero discovers the object and gets a hint of its importance.

  • Maybe the Macguffin is hidden in a dangerous place.
  • Perhaps the hero has to collect clues to find it.
  • Be sure to use your five senses in your description.
  • Remember to mention how the character feels and what they know or guess about the object.

Read the scene back when you’ve finished. It might inspire the start of a really good story!

Example Objects

What’s that? You don’t have any interesting objects at home?

I don’t believe you, but if you’re still stuck here a few potential Macguffins to get you started…