Deus ex Machina

Deus ex machina, from Latin. Basically machinations of the gods. When you paint/write yourself into the corner you can come up with any kind of BS you want to get out of it because you are God in this fictional world. 


Classic Greek tragedies were known for the use of Deus Ex Machina. It’s a theme that runs rampant through our times. Pick an action movie, any one you want. When the hero finds that gun that never seems to run out of bullets? Act of the writing gods (or producers, take your pick). It’s so rampant in our culture we expect it in real life. 

Epidemic reminiscent of the plague crossing the planet? There’s going to be a miracle cure in a lab somewhere. 

Giant asteroid cruising its way on a death course with the earth? Bruce Willis’s real life character from Armageddon is out there somewhere, we just know it. And surely NASA has an emergency rocket for this exact purpose, right? They would in the movies. 

Too broke to go to college? The lottery is nearly three quarters of a billion dollars and someone has to win it. And the money goes to public schools and roads so, hey, benefits all around!

Maybe humans read too many books (ha!), watch too many movies or television shows. That could be a reason for unreasonable expectations. Or it could be that writers and directors are using the device a wee bit too often. Instead of rewriting to get out of a corner they painted themselves into, it’s easier to have a handle appear from the ceiling so theycan ride it to the door. It’s the lazy way out. 

Opinion. Opinion. Opinion. 

Now. As I’ve written this out it is time for a confession. I used a dream sequence/flashback to move my plot forward in a smoother (and easier) way than writing 2 more chapters than may have been required otherwise. Tie another handle to the ceiling, I may have written myself into a new corner immediately after I got out of the last one. 

And now we know why I’ve been thinking about this fantastic literary device. Probably my second favorite only after Creative License (which, essentially becomes deus ex machina on bad days).

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