Thursday, October 23, 2008

deus ex machina

Deus ex machina is this:
"Captain, we've spent the past 200 pages of this novel trying to escape the evil zombies. We cannot escape this inescapable maze of doom. How will we ever make it?"

"Sergeant, I have no idea. Put your finger on that little red button. We'll self destruct in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Wait! What's that alien spaceship doing?"

"Lo and Behold, a greater than us, almost god-like species, never before introduced in the plot of our 200 page novel, has just swooped in to save us, the world, and the universe in the last 10 pages of our story."

Reader: throws novel against the wall, let down by the author.

Deus ex machina. "God from the Machine."
The classics were full of this. Aristotle was the first to say, "Whoa, Nelly". The resolution of the plot must be internal to the plot. It has to come from the progression of the story, not out of left field at the last moment.

This is like the end of The Abyss, where the ending has no real relation to the first 3/4 of the movie and the climax/resolution did not flow from the buildup/conflict. This is beyond a surprise ending, where clues are dropped, but from an entire new concept. Twist endings are great. God-like intervention endings are a disappointment. But, hey, I loved The Abyss, so *shrug* sometimes it works for a portions of the audience, but I have seen this movie completely panned because of the ending.

The end of The Abyss seems a direct homage to 2001 A Space Odyssey, which has a similar deus ex machina, in the form of the monolith, in itself a "god machine".

It's debatable whether deus ex machina works in a story. If it does, perhaps it's due to the odyssey (nod to The Odyssey intended). The allusion to the Greek-like journey lends itself to such a grandiose end. Is this the author's laziness, or that idea that humans can't save themselves, but some sort of divine intervention (or other-worldly) is necessary to help humans rise above the depths.

For more about deus ex machina, there's a little info on Wikipedia.

As an aspiring author working on a manuscript where the ending is a surprise to the hero and heroine (H/h), I took great pains to create a timeline that worked for the reader while leaving the H/h in the dark. Part of that was to add an additional POV besides the H/h to avoid the deus ex machina. It may be more work, but the readers will get more out of the story.

And they hopefully won't throw the book against the wall.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Duality by Renee Wildes

Duality by Renee Wildes published by Samhain was released yesterday. Renee is a friend of mine, and I'm happy to see the glowing reviews this wonderful writer has already received. If you have a hankering for Fantasy Romance, check these reviews, then RUN to get your copy.

Coffee Time Romance
***** (out of 5 cups)
"Duality is a stunning read with glorious mental vistas. While the book is a fantasy, it has a definite message we all can easily relate to—that love can be found during great adversity. I enjoyed reading about how Dara gains her strength to be who she truly is from her love for Loren and her ancestors. Loren as the valiant warrior who loves his lady in spite of her differences brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. This book has the best of everything in the romance genre, and I highly recommend it. It is a keeper!"
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance

***** (out of 5 Stars)
"Duality, by Renee Wildes, is the best fantasy story that I have ever read! This story has it all: Heart stopping adventure, True evil versus good, Love, Handsome Fae, and a gorgeous dragon. What more could a reader desire? This fabulous story is to die for!"
Reviewer: Susiq2

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fantasy & Fantasy-Romance Workshop

Please join us at Romance Divas THIS WEEKEND!

Friday October 10th and Saturday October 11th, we will be joined by some huge names in fantasy and fantasy-romance for a workshop on what the difference really is between the two genres.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

For fellow writers -- Word Macros

I've shared this with friends before, and thought I'd share again. This time, I'm putting it here so I can get feedback/questions, which I may or may not be able to help with.

There are two macros.

HiLite will run in Word to find a list of words (which you can edit) and highlight them. I haven't written an install, but here's how it works. If you have Word 2003, download this Weakwords.doc. Be sure to have macros enabled in Word. If you have Word 2007, this is the version you need: WeakWords.docm. The macro uses a dictionary file (download) which needs to go with other dictionary files, here: C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Application Data\Microsoft\UProof\CautionList.dic.
The macro searches for "ly" words and highlights them.
It also highlights all of the weak words in a manuscript. What constitutes weak? I put together a list from online how-to sites for writers, but I've since edited this down for my own writing style. Edit the words to reflect you own watch/problem words. You can open the dictionary file in notepad or word and edit it. It's essentially a text file.

The Word Frequency macro will list every word with the number of times it appears in the document.
Let me know if you have any questions/comments.