raiders of the lost ark

Troperiffic Tuesday!: The Almighty MacGuffin

Chick 1 says:

What do the Ark of the Covenant, the Maltese Falcon, and Unobtanium all have in common?  They are all versions of the MacGuffin, one of the most commonly used tropes of all time.  The MacGuffin is simply what they are after; what the hero is chasing, trying to find, or trying to protect.

The MacGuffin has been a trope in stories for as long as there have been stories (see the Golden Fleece in Jason and the Argonauts) but it was first given its name by Alfred Hitchcock who credited one of his screenwriters with the term.  The MacGuffin is the external motivation for the hero’s journey but has little to do with the hero’s actual character arc.  In its purest form, the MacGuffin could be replaced with any other item and the story would remain essentially the same. Read more

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Troperiffic Tuesday!: Chekhov’s Gun

Chick 1 says:

Welcome back to Troperiffic Tuesday!  This week we’re looking at one of the basic tenets of storytelling, Chekhov’s Gun.  The trope is based on a principle espoused by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.  Chekhov said it a variety of ways but it comes down to this, “If you have a gun on stage, it better go off before the end of the play.”

Chekhov’s Gun falls under the Law of Conservation of Detail which teaches writers to make every word, every bit of dialogue count.  If it doesn’t drive the story, don’t waste your precious time with it.  In movies you only have 90-120 minutes to tell a story, on TV only 22-43 minutes so every detail has to count.  Don’t introduce any element that distracts from the story. Read more

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