photo by Heidi Ruby Miller
EXCERPT from "Deus Ex Machina Undergoing Repairs: Save Your Characters by Letting Them Save Themselves" by Mike Mehalek in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction
Undoubtedly you’ve seen it before. Characters trapped in locked rooms, surrounded by battalions of atomic war machines, caught in irreconcilable relationships, or even stuck in a character’s own mind. Often those characters’ ingenuity gets them out of these sticky places, but just as often Fate seems to step in and save the day.
In writing, when Fate, an object, or another force arrives and inexplicably solves a problem or advances the plot, it’s called deus ex machina. Literally meaning "god from the machine," this device is thought to have gotten its name from a crane used to lower ancient Greek actors playing gods onto the stage.
A friend once told Mike Mehalek that "writing will set you free," and he’s bought into that philosophy 110%. To him writing is a way to escape from reality, a means to earn a living, and a way to show the world that one person can make a difference. He feels fiction should be enjoyable at the surface, but it should also have enough depth that those willing to dive for it can find greater meaning. In 2008 Mike graduated from the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill with his thesis Dragon, an urban dark fantasy.