I’d really appreciate your opinion: Is there anyway to pull a Deux Ex Machina without it being cliche? And if so, how?

Yes; but, only if no one else ever sees it.

Here’s my experience with people (myself included) and deus ex machina. This tends to happen when you’re ending a project, and you get stumped. You need to finish the story, and you have no idea how to end it. So, you pull something out of your ass, and call it a day.

It’s all fine, except for the calling it a day part. See, if you pull something out of nowhere at the end of your story, you need to immediately go back and start building that solution into the rest of your story. You don’t need to be explicit, but the deus ex machina needs to feel like a natural event or consequence, rather than “and then something random happens.”

If you’re doing serialized work, like webcomics, getting stumped is a real issue. The previous parts of your story are already out there, and it’s too late to go back and start blending a new element in. So, you need to toss your solution and work out one that makes sense. This is why planning ahead is vital for serialized writing. You don’t need to know everything that’s going to happen, but you do need a very solid outline to work from, and you need to know how every thread will end before you start them.

The exception is comedy. There’s a certain kind of comedy writing that thrives on closing with absolutely random final acts. Except, no, even then, you’re looking at paying off jokes that came up earlier in a completely unexpected way. It’s a logical deus ex machina, but, that’s because the story doesn’t matter, paying off the old setups is what’s important. (Watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail if you don’t understand what I’m talking about here.)

-Starke

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