Questions tagged [deus-ex-machina]

A Deus Ex Machina is a plot device, often appearing out of nowhere and having no previous introduction, which spontaneously arrives to solve an otherwise unsolvable problem. Use this tag for questions specifically about Dei Ex Machina, including whether or not to use them and how to avoid them.

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Is it a Deus Ex Machina if the character was properly set up?

I heard the solution has to be relatively believable within the confines of the story, and should have been properly set up before its used. So would God snapping his finger to save a group of ...
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17 votes
9 answers
6k views

What's the difference between Deus Ex Machina and coincidence?

I've read 1, 2, 3 and of course, 4. Then I read 5 and 6 and even 7. I was blissfully ignorant about coincidence, DEM and plot-convenience; but now, I'm just confused about the difference. I feel ...
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1 vote
7 answers
379 views

When does a partially random event go from reasonably possible to contrived "deus ex machina"?

There will always be some amount of luck, some amount of chance and randomness in any story. This is how it is in real life as well, and although stories are not a representation of reality, they do ...
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5 votes
4 answers
2k views

How to plausibly write a character with a hidden skill

TLDR How to keep a character's skillset hidden, when it will be key in the story later on? This must be done without magic and as subtly as humanly possible. I am working on a medieval fantasy story,...
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32 votes
10 answers
8k views

Is there such a thing as too inconvenient?

I find myself often being irritated at elements in situations that help characters succeed, elements which are also highly unlikely or even illogical. But often, if not more, I find myself angered by ...
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13 votes
5 answers
2k views

How to foreshadow to avoid a 'deus ex machina'-construction

The plot in my story revolves around a certain ability of the MC that is normally not available, unless the circumstances are just right. Therefore, it is not mentioned in the story as a solution to ...
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11 votes
10 answers
4k views

Is a stroke of luck acceptable after a series of unfavorable events?

The protagonist sets out on a journey to reach a goal. But the further he gets into the story, the clearer he understands that the odds aren't in his favor. He experiences loss, frustration, anger, ...
13 votes
5 answers
3k views

Deus Ex Machina -- How to identify?

I got a critique today from someone and they told me I was using a "Deus Ex Machina". I did some poking around on here, and I question if it really is one. I found a link -- and it says within the ...
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8 votes
1 answer
548 views

How do you make random chance/happenstance not seem like deus ex machina?

I like card games, particularly Magic: the Gathering, because they're a nice mixture of strategy and luck. I don't like chess because it's pure strategy, and I don't like bingo because it's pure luck (...
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2 votes
1 answer
292 views

What's the term used to describe a twist which is badly written because the twist is based on information not yet available to audience? [closed]

Context: In my question How did Olaf know?, I asked about a twist in the TV series A Series of Unfortunate Events, adapted from a book series of the same name. My understanding: Twists, whether good (...
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3 votes
1 answer
503 views

Intentionally writing a Deus Ex Machina?

I'm in a bit of a dilemma. At one point near the end of my story, I intentionally pulled a huge Deus Ex Machina that has no previous explanation, hint or even justification. In fact, I could (and may ...
4 votes
4 answers
817 views

Is it a deus ex machina if the alternative is illogical?

Background: I know to avoid Deus Ex Machinas - meaning to me a sudden and unexpected solution arriving out of nowhere to save an otherwise unsolvable problem. They are often indicative of a writer who ...
5 votes
6 answers
653 views

From a writing standpoint, what is the value of Deus Ex Machina?

Deus ex machina is considered by TV Tropes to be a sub-trope to asspulling, and thus, often considered a bad writing trope. Now, unlike most other bad writing tropes, that have their roots in ...
6 votes
3 answers
1k views

How do I plot the defeat of an all-knowing, god-like antagonist?

I have a plot bunny lingering in my head about a rag-tag band of defective cyborgs facing off against a god-like supercomputer. I've outlined a great deal but I'm frequently finding that it's ...
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2 votes
7 answers
843 views

Is the following deus-ex-machina? If so, should I remove it?

I wrote a novel called Animal Suicide. It's a mix of romance and dark humor. It's about a girl who, after a weird incident, postpones a pill overdose and starts researching about the topic of animal ...
15 votes
3 answers
1k views

Avoiding Deus Ex Machina resolutions?

Most Crime/Thriller Novels usually have a sudden, unexpected plot twist that puts the main character in a really hopeless situation. One way to resolve this is by using a "Deus Ex Machina", that is a ...
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