A macGuffin is a person, place or thing that’s used as a plot device that the protagonist pursues. It’s what motivates his or her choices and drives our story forward. Often times a macguffin will have little or no narrative explanation as to why it is considered important. A macGuffin can sometimes take a more abstract form, victory, pride, survival, power, love, or even something that is entirely unexplained, as long as it strongly motivates key characters within our plot.
Examples of macguffin’s include: unobtaimium in AVATAR, the briefcase in PULP FICTION, Terry Benedict’s money in OCEAN’S ELEVEN, The Golden Idol in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, One Eyed Willy’s treasure in THE GOONIES.