Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tropes: The Plot Trinket


Stuff. Everyone has stuff. Most of the time, we think nothing of it. It's not like we pay attention to people's rings, lockets, or pocket watches. There's nothing magical about them, is there? Well, if this stuff becomes a crucial part of a plot, you can bet we'll keep our eye on whatever it is. And scream, if it falls into the wrong hands.

The Plot Trinket -  An item of major or little value to a character that ends up being an item of importance. Typically, the entire plot centers around this item.

Unlike a MacGuffin, Plot Trinkets are jewelry or a special item made into jewelry. They can also be any number of objects. For an item to be a Plot Trinket, it often comes from someone of endearment (a relative or friend).

Every orphan seems to have one. It is often a clue left behind by the character's parents or relatives.

 

It can also be an inheritance that a child is too young to access, but others are killing to get their hands on it.


Some Plot Trinkets can make characters immortal.


Others can lead characters to truth.


Every now and then, they can have an effect on time.


Plot Trinkets are fun and used in many stories. After all, most people hold value in something, like I do for my grandfathers old-school pocket watch. If only it could do more than tell time, like ... turn beavers into gold!

Hmm. Maybe not. I'll lay off the poor beavers, okay?

What are some of your favorite Plot Trinkets? Have you ever used one? What kind of item was it?

I'm David, and where can I find some cool curios?

42 comments:

  1. Haven't used one yet. Would have to say the ring in LOTR is the biggest one I know of though.

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  2. Or the Horcruxes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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  3. Oh yes...those horcruxes were awesome! I've mentioned trinkets, but they haven't been essential to the plot.

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  4. I use a plot trinket in my current novel. It's a lot of fun, and makes for a good plot element! I like how plot trinkets can be so individual and make a story and character feel more real

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  5. Horcruxes AND One Ring to Rule Them All. ;) I've never used a plot trinket. I have a few ideas though. :)

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  6. I used one, a necklace. But I don't normally. If I do use an object, usually it's more normal/useful. Like a knife or something :)

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  7. Yes, definitely scream if it falls into the wrong hands. :D I have used plot trinkets. The series my co-author and I write have twelve of them, actually. ;)

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  8. Nice thing about plot trinkets is, usually they're small enough to easily lose, misplace, or steal. The envelope of money that Uncle Billy misplaces in 'It's a Wonderful Life' for example.. without that there's no Clarence. Conflict drives stories, so misplace the trinket and you've got an entire side story about getting it back. Have it stolen and there's book 3. :)

    Thanks for the follow btw.. been reading/enjoying your blog for quite a while, actually gave me the push to start my own.

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  9. I was going to mention the horcruxes as well... I guess not going to, cuz I did, haha.

    And that one ring picture was part of the reason I clicked on over here. Is it bad that I cried when it was destroyed? :)

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    1. Yes. Because that would mean evil would endure again. See. The ring has ensnared you, too! ;)

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  10. Cassie - You can cry all you want, but I get to look at The One Ring every day. When we went to pick out wedding bands, I got mine to look exactly like The One Ring (sans the writing that appears with fire, of course). But it is inscribed inside, and that's just for me.

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  11. Ha! I love the term plot trinket. Ive not heard that before. In Daughter of Smoke and Bone, MC wears a wishbone as a necklace which becomes very important to the plot.

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  12. I don't know if I have a favorite and I've never used one. But they can be pretty handy.

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  13. oooh! Good one! I love the gold from the Pirates movies. That is fabulous. And of course the time turner in Harry Potter. Very fun. We can't forget "the ring" in Lord of the Rings. There will be a trinket in my current book. We're just not "there" yet. :)

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  14. I love the way a physical object can act as an extension of the characters and the plot. A great device in a story, but easier said than done:)

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  15. I'll go one better than the One Ring and mention The Silmarills (fabulous jewels) that started the whole thing from Tolkien's The Silmarillion.

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  16. You have a picture of one of my favorites - the Gold Compass from His Dark Materials.

    In my current project, my main character does have an "enchanted" medallion that glows a blue fire hue, but it's up to him to interpret the sign.

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  17. I love plot trinkets! My favourite ones are the gems, Orb of Aldur and Behelliom, from the Belgariad series and Elenium trilogy. Though Carrot's sword in the Discworld series is kind of cool too. It's just a very unmagical, sharp sword with high importance. ^_^

    And, yes, I've used a plot trinket. Thrice. All in the form of necklaces: Two amulets and one old key on a chain. None of them do anything but look pretty though.

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  18. Does a piece of Apache gold count? It's not used as jewelry, but it's important to the plot?

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  19. I totally have a pocket watch in my book that my character uses to travel through time. If that's not a trinket then I'm not sure what is...

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  20. Really..."One Ring To Rule Them All". Without the ring, what would Lord of the Rings be?

    I've done it a lot with story plotting w/kids. They love giving an object some weight.

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  21. I thought Bilbo's ring was a MacGuffin? Can something sometimes be both?

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    1. For Bilbo, yes. For Frodo, that's an entirely different story. It's always possible for an item to switch roles.

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  22. Oooh, I have a necklace in the second part of my story, I need to bring it up in the first part for some foreshadowing...thanks for the idea!

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  23. In my NaNoWriMo novel, 'Portal', I had a crystal key that was a plot trinket. In fact, the whole plot centred around this key. Great doom and destruction comes if it is not protected and all that.

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  24. I have a plot trinket in my novel. It's a poison ring--I modeled the one in my book after one that I own. I love it.

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  25. I think the hard thing with these plot trinkets is trying to make them and your story unique. That's what I've been struggling with lately.

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  26. Sabrina has two: the mystic ring (by which she can control demons, vampires and a few other things), and the Dagger of Delphi--which either kills or poisons the same. (^;

    Good topic!

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  27. Interesting post, interesting comments. Thank you.. inspiring! I look forward to following your blog. :-)

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  28. I don't think I've ever used them in anything I've written. I had never even heard of them.

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  29. There's this story idea knocking around in my head that, just last night, I decided would have a "stuff" thing in it. :) A little girl's golden love heart ring.

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  30. I've never used one and I was going to mention the Horcruxes too.

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  31. I don't know... Can an animal be a plot trinket? The chinchilla is the focus of the story, as the main character is trying to find and get back the chinchilla. Does it count, or does it have to be an inanimate object?

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  32. I've never really thought about it before. I may have used one in a previous story, as everyone was after a small trinket in the story.

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  33. The LOTR ring is definitely my fave. I'm also a fan of WOT trinkets like the Horn of Valere and the Emerald Atlas from John Stephens' series.

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  34. Heh I have a trinket in my new fun side project (that has been languishing unloved since I started a new job with the commute from hell recently).

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  35. Woohoo! I have a locket in my current ms. Such great trinkets. ;)

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  36. Oooh, I love plot trinkets. I don't use them that often in my own writing, but I was always a fan of the alethiometer, the one ring, etc. I ever have scale replicas of the one ring and Hermione's time turner (yeah, I'm a closet nerd).

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  37. I've got a plot trinket. It's a little bigger than jewelry and doesn't put in a a lot of face time but it drives the plot and is a major part of the climax.

    Fun post.

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  38. I think of plot trinkets as signposts, if someone has one then it will be needed at some point in the story. I liked your humour in the post.

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  39. I love this post. I've gotten good at spotting the insignificant thing at the beginning of a plot in a film that will turn out to be the saving grace of the MC. This post has given me food for thought for my novel writing too.

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