Screenwriting Glossary of Terms

Deus ex Machina

A contrived plot device to resolve an unsolvable problem in the final scene. Literally translates (from Latin) as “gods from the machine” – a stunt popular in Greek and Roman outdoor theaters, where intervention from the gods saved the day, and actors depicting the deities appeared on a hoisted platform. Except in a clever comedy, this technique to wrap up an impossible situation by sudden, magical coincidence is considered lazy writing.

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