Mr McGuffin’s Christmas Carol

It seems it’s polite in a pandemic to take a virtual holiday, so I’m taking a day trip to the US, guesting on Anne R. Allen’s blog, with a seasonal return to Mr McGuffin’s Plot Device and Writer Unblocking Emporium.

In which Mr McGuffin gets visits from three partly frustrating and wholly impossible visitors, in the best tradition of the season. Excerpt follows below with the full piece available here.

Blog bless us, Everyone!


Why Arts Funding Needs The Viagra Approach

It’s Christmas Eve in Mr. McGuffin’s Plot Device and Writer Unblocking Emporium, and the end of a very busy season indeed. Writers queued outside the shop for weeks to avail of Mr McGuffin’s festive offer of a discounted shock plot twist with a free happy ending.

Proprietor MR McGUFFIN is serving his last customer of the day when the door bursts open. He looks up in surprise from the magical realism remote control he is wrapping for a nervous-looking writer with an imminent deadline.

A ridiculously handsome man marches up to the counter and folds his arms. He is wearing black tuxedo trousers and bow tie, no shirt, and a fireman’s helmet. It is ROMANTIC HERO, and he’s not happy.


ROMANTIC HERO: A word, McGuffin.

MR MCGUFFIN: I’m sorry, I don’t think I know you, Mr—?

ROMANTIC HERO: You know damn well who I am, McGuffin. I’m Romantic Hero. You sold sixteen of me last week.

MR MCGUFFIN: Now that you say it, you do look familiar.

ROMANTIC HERO: Familiar, he says. The cheek! He’s the reason I’m in this mess, and he says I’m familiar!

MR MCGUFFIN: Sorry? What have I done?

Romantic Hero notices the nervous-looking writer for the first time, and smiles at her. She faints.

MR MCGUFFIN: Now look here, you can’t do that to my good customers!

ROMANTIC HERO: Look at me! Look at what I’m wearing! Not to mention the fact that it’s the middle of winter, and I’m bloody freezing with no shirt on!

MR MCGUFFIN: But what’s that got to do with me?

ROMANTIC HERO: You’ve been selling the same thing for years to every writer who came into this shop looking for a romantic male lead. That was bad enough, but now it’s worse, with you expecting me to be all the clichés at the same time. Last week you sold me as a firefighter and a billionaire playboy with deep family trauma and a vaguely aristocratic lineage, all at once!

MR McGUFFIN: Oh, dear.  Don’t know what happened there. I wouldn’t usually sell them together.

ROMANTIC HERO: But that’s not the half of it. Why do I have to be so two-dimensional? Where’s my character arc? My depth, my motive for falling in love? I’m sick of having all my issues pinned on my difficult relationship with my mother–slash–father, for starters!

MR McGUFFIN:  Well, you can’t deny that it works, Mr – er – Hero. Difficult relationships with one’s parents have been the driving force of 88.7% of both romantic and crime fiction plots since 1967.

Romantic Hero sulks

ROMANTIC HERO: Doesn’t make it right.

MR McGUFFIN: I myself had a very difficult relationship with my father which almost resulted in me taking up taxidermy, rather than fictional retailing….


Full piece available here. Thanks to Anne R. Allen for having me this week. Oh, and… happy Christmas to you all!!

  10 comments for “Mr McGuffin’s Christmas Carol

  1. December 13, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Blog bless you too, Tara.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. December 14, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    Another play on the way? God bless and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 14, 2021 at 10:42 pm

      Could be, Stanley… watch this space! And many happy returns for the season!


  3. December 17, 2021 at 2:22 am

    I see a story go into the past and find a trauma, and not get back to the story within a couple sentences, and I’m outta there – the story I signed on for didn’t have a grotty past, and I want that one.

    I understand it’s popular, and every past has a few, uh, skeletons, but it’s been done to death, and living in the present story is what I want. That’s where I need answers, to try out a way of living. Flashbacks – and as few of them as possible – don’t bog the story down in another one.

    I want to identify with an adult character, in the now, and not go back to being four years old. I don’t write that way, and I don’t want to read that way. I can’t be the only one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 19, 2021 at 12:19 pm

      Always good to know exactly what you want, Alicia. It’s such a personal thing, and thankfully there should be plenty of suitable stories out there for all of us!


      • December 19, 2021 at 4:04 pm

        I think that’s why people end up with favorite authors: they trust that the next story from that writer will also be satisfying.

        They don’t realize how hard that is on the producing side!

        It’s also hard on authors who don’t want to pigeonhole themselves.

        It shows you how important fiction is that readers come to have such strong opinions. I think it comes from the possibility of identification: you can want to be the pretty girl at the center of a movie, but when you READ, you ARE that pretty girl. No matter how much you love a story you are watching happen, and how much you suspend disbelief, you are NOT Michelle Pfeiffer in Ladyhawke.

        Liked by 1 person

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