Hi! I read somewhere on here that it can be weird if you have a very important, world saving object and it is broken into pieces/deactivated/something like that without a reason. What are some valid reasons for doing this?

Hey Clover, great to hear from you again!

The specific reasons for hiding or deactivating a world-saving McGuffin will vary wildly depending on the context of your setting, so I can’t even begin to list them all. Instead, let’s talk about some broader guidelines you can use, regardless of what’s going on in the world.

In short, the benefits of hiding or destroying the McGuffin have to outweigh the costs of not doing that. Many stories completely fail this criteria. Redwall, for example, hurriedly explains that the great warrior Martin hid his sword away so that a young mouse could find it later. This means that Martin deprived his people of a weapon that was very useful as a symbol and for self defense, and the only benefit is that much later, someone else might find it. That just doesn’t hold up.

A story that works better in this area is The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, though I do have to spoil the plot in order to explain why. In that story, there’s a hidden magic sword, and the explanation for why it’s hidden is pretty good: in the distant past, a king found out that an evil, immortal mage was trying to get the magic sword in question. This mage was powerful enough that castles and guards couldn’t be counted on to keep them out. If the mage got their hands on the sword, horrible things would happen. Since the sword wasn’t critical to the kingdom’s survival, the king hid it away so the evil mage wouldn’t get it. That’s a good cost/benefit analysis.

That’s all assuming your McGuffin is hidden away intentionally. If it’s accidentally lost, as with the One Ring, that calculation isn’t necessary. Of course, in both situations, you still need to think about some practical concerns. Would the McGuffin have stayed lost? How many people are looking for it? Why couldn’t anyone find it? If it’s commonly sought after, how is the hero going to find it when no one else could? These are all important questions, but if you can figure out why the McGuffin was lost in the first place, then you should be able to handle the rest.

Hope that answers your question, and happy writing!


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