today I’d like to mention a writing device known as the Deus Ex Machina, which happens to be often used in Fantasy fiction.
What is a Deus Ex Machina?
“A Deus Ex Machina is when some new event, character, ability, or object solves a seemingly unsolvable problem in a sudden, unexpected way. The term is Latin for god from the machine and has its origins in. It referred to scenes in which a crane (machina) was used to lower actors or statues playing a god (deus) onto the stage to set things right, often near the end of the play.”
There are many in Fantasy fiction, from Aslan saving the day in every book of The Chronicles of Narnia to the dragons’ magic only working in times of need in Eragon. However, J.R.R. Tolkien is the one who used this device extensively in all his stories. In The Hobbit, Bilbo and the dwarves are saved time and again by the miraculous interventions of Gandalf and the Eagles.
What’s wrong with a Deus Ex Machina?
After all, coincidences do happen in real life, and the reader wants the hero to win, doesn’t he? Yes, but the reader is also entitled to a satisfying ending. And a Deus Ex Machina rarely provides it, because the coincidence feels unnatural and lazy. As if the writer couldn’t sort out his own plot, and he resorted to pulling a god out of his hat to save the hero and solve all the plot holes.
So should you include a Deus Ex Machina in your Fantasy novel? Why not. But know what is it and when to use it. Know that it’s a trope readers are acutely aware of and they rarely forgive.
Do you use a Deus Ex Machina in your novel? Does it feel like you’re taking the easy way out by using it or not? Feel free to leave us a comment below!
And happy writing!