Currently, there is a theme going around the indie circuit regarding the ‘deus ex machina’ plot device and the frowning upon of such simplistic usages…
Basically, this is the meaning: a Latin calque from Greek ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός (apò mēkhanês theós), meaning “god from the machine”. The term has evolved to mean a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when the writer has “painted himself into a corner” and sees no other way out, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or as a comedic device.
Not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I’ve read books where characters help each other or where some sort of godly being comes into play and an issue is resolved in a spiritual/magical way and I’ve read books that are really gritty and dark, where characters are thrust into dire situations and have to resolve or die!
The books that keep me coming back are the ones with great characters, dialogue and an interesting story. I don’t think much beyond that. I want to be engaged. To see the humour and feel the tension. There are some books where magic is a part of the story’s world, but doesn’t solve all problems and others where it is a major factor. I’ve come across books that have dejected gods cast out by their own and have to learn and live ‘human’, which then caused issues for the mortals around them.
I like a lot of ‘older’ fantasy because most (not all) don’t attempt to be anything other than what they are. An adventure into a new world with believable players and a solid plot.
I’m not a massive fan of ‘Grimdark’ fantasy, mainly due to the fact that while some of it is so shocking my fingers go white clenching the pages, most of the time the story and characters don’t draw me in enough to make me want to read them more than once. I tried re-reading one I’d found alright, only to find myself struck by an air of indifferent no more than a few pages in and subsequently the book went off to the charity shop.
Sci-fi is a big issue for me. So far, only Peter F Hamilton has the ability to keep my attention and lure me back for a re-read every now and then.
Lately, I’ve been reading Brian McClellan’s Autumn Republic, which is the last book in a pretty good trilogy. Although, there are some short stories and novellas that accompany the series. These are also excellent. I like the way the author has chosen to use a kind of magic that relies on gunpowder and imbibing of such to gain magical power/skill. I also enjoyed the richness of the world and excellent use of witty dialogue! (this is only my opinion, of course, and others may differ, which is all to the good)
I’ve got a lot to learn about writing still. But, when I am writing a story, I do so for myself first because if I can’t stand to read, then no-one else will. Right?