Friday, January 14, 2011

Fess Up Friday: What Say You About Deus ex Machina?

Plot devices are tricky. Some writers use just a handful and ignore the rest. Other writers use everything they can get their hands on to force sense into their story. 

Here lies the problem: forcing sense.

Not making it. 

An example of this is a plot device you may or may not be familiar with--Deus ex machina

Definition from the Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary:

[singular] : a character or thing that suddenly enters the story in a novel, play, movie, etc., and solves a problem that had previously seemed impossible to solve.

In terms of writing, I confess. One of my manuscripts has a Deus ex machina moment. *blushes* But now I steer clear of this device, mostly because: a) it confuses/irks readers; b) it just plain irks agents/editors. 

BUT this plot device is not just a plot device to me. It's something that happens. In life. Sort of.

You see, I believe in signs. Yes, I just said it. Stop looking at me like that...

Yesterday, a sign presented itself to me. A sign to take a chance. A chance that had n-e-v-e-r appeared to me before yesterday. And, to be honest, it sort of came out of nowhere.

My very own Deus ex machina, waving hello at me. *fist pump*

So there you go. Random moments out of Nowhereville can sometimes work.

Now fess up: have you ever used the Deus ex machina? If so, how do you feel about it now?


  1. I do hope not, I try to avoid this at all costs, hmmm, not that my little readers would notice this so much as grown ups...

  2. Yeah, I've definitely used it in one of my novels. But I agree with you that it happens in real life. I've been knee-deep in a financial mess, dropping off my 20 dollars at the bank after pimping my plasma at a donation center and suddenly there was like a hundred more dollars in my bank account than should have been there. Why?

    I thought I'd received my last check from my college job (from which I'd recently been fired), but it turned out there was just a little bit extra they owed me.

    Yes, this was convenient, but it was also real. So I support deus ex machina, as long as it's not brought about by flying pigs. :) Great post, Amparo!

  3. I do everything I can to avoid it. I really don't like it in the stories I read, so if I'm faced with a problem in my writing I either change it so it's more solvable or cut it out altogether.

  4. Oh... I know that, and honestly I hate it most in movies for some reason. It's the whole "lucky/unbelievable coincidence." I have done it and I try to go back into the first chapters and write in clues, so I appear clever : )

  5. I'm not sure if I have used this. I don't think so. But things like this happens in my life all the time. I don't have a problem reading it - unless its really poorly done

  6. Sign!??! What was this sign??!! Awwww you're teasing us!! Whatever it was - I just know it was/is amazing!!! yay for you!!

    I've not used this plot device - well not yet!!- in my current wip!! But in real life - oh yes - gosh all the time - just when I think it couldn't get worse, there's now way out - et voila!!!! My very own deux et machina!! For me it's nothing grand or mind-blowing - just a little glitch here and then a third way opens for me -hallelujah! Am I rambling? Yes I am!!

    Take care

  7. Signs? Sounds exciting.

    As for a deux ex machina. Hmmm. I'm having such a brain fried moment, I can't remember. lol.

  8. Novels that use this device annoy me! I try to avoid it in my own writing.

  9. I haven't used it. I ensure that the main character actively fixes things.

  10. i'm a firm believer that Deus ex Machina could be done right, with a good writer. A sort of "was it actaully the hand of god that did this, or not" deal. I'd like to see it, at least

  11. Goodness, I hope I don't have one of those lurking around, LOL! I try to introduce everybody ahead of time...they may "disappear" and "reappear" but hopefully it's not too much of a "convenience" when they do, haha!

    Nice post!