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Winner of Barnes and Noble Gift card: DL Hammons
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Today I wanted to talk about the plot device called deus ex machina. Pronounced DAY-us Ex MAK-in-ah.
And I checked. It is NOT a double espresso maker from Europe. But it should be.
It means "God in the machine" (okay, for all the caffeine junkies out there, maybe God is in espresso makers) and refers to many Greek tragedies in which a seemingly horrible ending is avoided by intervention of the gods. A more modern take is when a tragic ending is resolved by "a contrived and unexpected invention of a new character, ability, or object." Quoting Wiki, here.
A few examples:
- 1st, 2nd and 4th Harry Potter books (Harry's mom's love saving him from Quirrell, Fawkes showing up out of nowhere, and the priori incantantem spell saving him from Voldemort)
-The Stand by Stephen King
-Lord of the Rings trilogy (the giant eagles miraculously rescuing Frodo and Sam).
This type of plot device can be unsatisfying for many. A perfect ending that comes out of nowhere? You can imagine the reader may feel tricked, since nothing substantial in the plot set this ending up.
On the other hand, it does make for a juicy, surprise ending! And a kick-ass cappuccino, to boot.
It occurs to me that some of the examples here are more a Chekhov's Gun type technique rather than Deus Ex. Please see my other post on Chekhov's Gun!
21 hours ago