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Author Topic: In search of the right MacGuffin  (Read 678 times)

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Dan from TX

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In search of the right MacGuffin
« on: October 06, 2017, 10:52:18 AM »

Good day all.
Iím a new forum member and dipping my first toe into mystery writing proper. I like the general tone of the discussions Iíve read here and thought this community might help me. A while ago I wrote a story involving a police detective, even though the story itself wasnít strictly what Iíd call a mystery. Anyway, Iíd like to bring the character back for a more traditional locked-room premise.

The problem: Iím stuck brainstorming for a MacGuffin that will work for me. Thereís a crucial piece of evidence my detective needs to find. Itís hidden in a suspectís house, and some trickery will be required in exposing it. (If that sounds a little page-one ďScandal in Bohemia,Ē wellÖ Iím just getting started in the genre. If this story works I pledge to try something more sophisticated.)

Does anyone have suggestions for an item that

1)   Is compact enough to be hidden out of sight without much trouble
2)   Must be kept by the criminal, at least temporarily. In other words despite its incriminating nature, it cannot simply be discarded or destroyed immediately after the crime (letís say murder, but Iím open to other options).

These are the ideal criteria for the story mechanics Iíve got in mind, but Iíve just been stuck awhile on this point. I hope Iíve got the right thread / am using this forum properly. All thoughts, practical and outlandish, will be gratefully entertained. Thanks!
"Nope, nothing wrong here."
-- The Sharp Cereal Professor

Old Bill

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Re: In search of the right MacGuffin
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2017, 09:14:20 AM »

Hi Dan and Welcome. Honestly, I had to Google "Scandal..." and MacGuffin [gotta love Ole Hitchcock (I've forgotten more than I ever knew)] but I'm willing to give it a try.

Why keep incriminating evidence? Value or implied value (Maltese Falcon) either monetary or sentimental; thumbdrive/microdot; weapon/instrument that everyone knows you have/use; extortion material still having relevance. Pretty obvious stuff but you've probably already thought of these.

Where to hide in a house...I can think of a gazillion places depending on the size and probably in plain sight. Once was part of a team sent to search a suspect's the time we were through, it looked like it was hit by a tornado (a slight exaggeration...forgive me).

Good luck and looking forward to more from your WIP.

Old Bill

PS: Hope you survived Harvey unscathed.


Dan from TX

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Re: In search of the right MacGuffin
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2017, 10:35:20 AM »

Thanks! All good fuel for thought. I've just got to make myself narrow down the available options.

P.S. - My family and I came out fine in the hurricane, although we live within a quarter mile of being in real trouble. Feeling very fortunate.
"Nope, nothing wrong here."
-- The Sharp Cereal Professor

Dave Freas

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Re: In search of the right MacGuffin
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2017, 07:58:18 PM »

What about an XD or SD card like some digital cameras use?  They're smaller that a postage stamp and not much thicker than a business card and could be hidden almost anywhere.  And might be easily overlooked in a search of a drawer for example that's filled with lots of little odds and ends.

My digital camera uses XD cards and I keep them in a plastic gizmo that holds six of them.  They come in several different capacities, too (I have 16 and 64 MB ones and if memory serves there are or were also 32 and 128 MB ones).  And each one can hold tons of pictures - up to several hundred on the larger cards - depending on the camera settings for film speed used.

The crucial clue - a picture of the murder? - could be on it or it could hold something as innocent as a flower blooming or anything in between.

Hope this helps.
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