Thursday, 15 December 2011

REBECCA'S WRITING DIARY: 'DEUS EX MACHINA'!

As Christmas approaches it gets harder to find time to write every day. Yet there is always 'thinking time' - on a journey, in the bath or shower, while exercising. If you are living with your characters in this way your writing will be more likely to come alive on the page.

I've reached a crisis point in my current novel, His Leather and Lace Bride. When this happens I like to think of several alternative routes through the plot before deciding which will be the most effective. One problem that writers have is making the coincidences and twists in the plot seem convincing.

I realised some years ago that you can get away with almost anything as a writer provided you build in some credible background. Sometimes this involves 'foreshadowing,' planting little clues which relate to something happening down the line. It could be a habit or character trait that leads inevitably to some course of action. Or some external circumstance that puts your characters into a fix.

What you want to avoid is the 'deus ex machina' (God out of the machine) approach. This Latin phrase comes from the old Greek dramas where no matter how much of a mess the characters got into everything, all would be solved by the appearance of a god figure - often winched down onto the stage - who would wave his magic wand, so to speak, and restore order.

A novel where something incredible happens out of the blue to sort out a situation is never very convincing. If you want to introduce a novel twist, perhaps to throw a pair of lovers together or push them apart, make sure it seems to arise naturally from the story so it doesn't look too contrived.

Ah well, better take my own advice now . . .

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