Our final theme of “Bingeworthy” is the classic trope of the MacGuffin, which we’re calling “The One Thing.” To give your story the best chances possible of publication, here’s what we’re looking for in a “one thing” story.
“One thing” in your story should drive the motivations of your characters and your plot. Here are some other guidelines:
- It’s importance is not obvious just by looking at it. The Ring of power in Lord of the Rings just looks like a simple ring. The Holy Grail just looks like a carpenter’s cup. The Garden of Eden might be a small grotto about to be bulldozed and made into a housing development.
- It is legendary in certain circles and many have sought to acquire it. The Ark of the Covenant is a great artifact and mighty mystery to those who know Jewish history.
- It may cross cultures and have different myths around the same concept. The Fountain of Youth is desired by many, but its exact nature is different in various myths (a literal fountain or spring, a kiss from an immortal, eating the flesh of a special creature, eating a special piece of fruit, etc).
- It doesn’t have to be legendary, though. An obscure thing still drives the characters and the plot because multiple people want it (or want to destroy it or control it).
- It can be a place (the garden of Eden, the end of the rainbow) or a thing (an object, a device, a potion, a power, etc) or a person (Private Ryan in Saving Private Ryan, Leeloo in The Fifth Element).
A good story often has a likeable main character striving against overwhelming odds to achieve a worthy goal. In the case of “the one thing”, the one thing is both the goal and the reason for the overwhelming odds.
Remember, we love to see stories in a variety of genres, and our mystery, humor and thriller categories often have less competition than scifi and fantasy. So place your MacGuffin in a genre and submit away—by Sunday, April 5th, 2020!