"God did it": the Problem with Deus Ex Machina

It’s reminder time again, @Bloggers. Shani’s fifth blog post. I didn’t know this term before I read this blog the first time around and found it super interesting. This is such an annoying thing to happen in a story. Is there anyone who has read this in or written this into a story before?


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ooh I don’t know what this means…
guess I’m about to find out!!

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I’ve heard this phrase a lot while watching Cinema Sins but I never actually understood what it meant. The more that I think about it, the more common this kind of thing is in action movies. I haven’t really seen this in books. It’s definitely made me more conscious about my writing and the endings. I actually have a hard time writing endings because I feel like whatever I write just isn’t up to standard.

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I remember learning what the term really meant through reading a series of unfortunate events because it’s explained what the literary device is then it gets applied to the actual story (which is probably one of my favourite things about a series of unfortunate events) I think this is the only example of deus ex machina that didn’t frustrate me. I feel like it can be done well though in certain situations but in general it really isn’t something I wanna use in my own writing. This blog post is rad as ever :sunglasses:

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OMG! That’s right, I vaguely remembered it from something and I couldn’t remember what it was.

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whew okay i’m a bit late but still here’s my two cents
yes, ex-machina is usually a cheap and bland way to solve problems or at least advance the narrative
however, i wouldn’t say to “avoid it at all costs”

let’s take a look at Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream
there, one of the plots is solved by what one could classify now as an ex-machina: a creature uses a magical flower to solve the love tangle while the four characters in that mess are asleep
boiling it down to those terms, it does seem pretty ex-machina to me (Puck ex-machina i guess)
yet, it doesn’t take away from the story
if anything, that was what sparked the deepest discussion about this comedy when i took a seminar about Shakespeare

yes, Deus ex-machina can usually seem lazy or bland, but sometimes, when used right, it can give space for a lot of discussion about the characters’ position in their universe, expand the worldbuilding and sometimes even give way to a new conflict

so if there’s something you’d like to explore though ex-machina: don’t shy away from it, just be aware of how you’re using it

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