Let’s imagine a man called Peter leaving the gym and running to his car with his duffel bag over his head to protect himself from the rain. When he reaches the car and is about to open the door, he stops because he sees Laura, his best friend’s girlfriend, kissing another man on the opposite sidewalk. The girl is wearing a pair of sunglasses, but all the same, he recognizes her.
Peter stands in the rain for a while as he watches the scene in disbelief. The couple enters a café, so he gets into his car but does not start it. He just sits there with his mobile phone in his hand. The screen displays the name and picture of his friend next to the call icon. More than once, Peter almost dials, but he finally decides not to.
Eventually, regardless of the rain, he returns the phone to his bag, gets out of the car, crosses the street, and enters the café. Laura is sitting at a table, chatting away with her companion. Peter approaches them and sits in front of the girl. Looking at him from behind the sunglasses she has not yet removed, she asks, “What are you doing here?” Peter ignores the question, sneers at her, and says, “Would you call this a little mistake too, or is it just me?”
In this post, I want to discuss why you shouldn’t resort to “Deus Ex Machina” when you’re trying to solve a conflict in a story. As I have occasionally made that mistake and learned how to avoid it, I think you can take advantage of my experience and advice.
The origin of the term “Deus Ex Machina” dates back to the theatre in Ancient Greece when at the end of a play, one of the Olympic gods was hanging from a crane in order to solve the characters’ conflicts and give an end to the story. With their belief system at that time, this method for sorting things out was more or less justified, but the readers of today won’t easily accept divine intervention.
There are four key elements when it comes to telling a story: summary, plot, structure, and suspense. However, as all of them are interrelated and even interdependent, it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart.
In this post, I’ll analyze these elements separately to discover their functions and peculiarities.
Summary refers to the main events of the narrative presented in chronological order. This sequential type of organization provides the writer with a clear answer to two questions. What’s the story about? What does it tell the reader? As we’ll discuss in the next section, once those questions have been answered, the author can break the chronological order of narrative discourse and choose the one that best fits his or her story.