A deus ex machina ( /ˈdeɪ.əs ɛks ˈmɑːkiːnə/ or /ˈdiːəs ɛks ˈmækɨnə/ DAY-əs eks MAH-kee-nə; Latin: “god out of the machine”; plural: dei ex machina) is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object. (Or, at least, that’s what Wikipedia says).
So yeah. Maybe every author struggles with this concept. Or, you know, maybe they outline and plan their stuff correctly so they don’t write themselves into a corner
every single time. Anyway, as I read and observe how other stories are told, I have to wonder where the line is drawn. In the thriller genre, where readers expectations involve quick reveals, betrayals, double agents and heightened tension must be constantly created, where does the suspension of disbelief end? When the reader can clearly see the ‘god in the machine’ does it takes away from their enjoyment of novel? When an author makes choices for their characters that seem to come out of nowhere or don’t follow the specific rules laid out for the canon universe, why do they resort to those plot techniques? Is ‘cheapening’ the storyline by introducing something that shouldn’t be there a result of bad writing, or is it just an author’s choice to be creative?
I’m not so much worried about this in the draft of the current book (it’s basically a series of unconnected stories), but for the Fates project, I am a bit concerned that the A storyline is revealed in a manner that is a bit deus ex machina. Hrm. Thoughts to consider as the final draft looms.
Are there any recent examples of books, television or film you can think of where you questioned what or why the creators did what they did?