Consider a deus ex machina that shows up on the first page. Nobody can do anything about it. End of story. There’s no foreshadowing or ways to build tension, no reaction or interplay between the protagonist and antagonist. There’s no story, just a news article for everyone else: “A conquers B in 5-minute war, no resistance”.

I described that as “too abrupt of a plot” after pondering for a few minutes about how to describe it. But the recipient didn’t understand that and thought there must be a missing word or other typing mistake.

What’s a good way to express this?

Is it proper to describe a plot as being “abrupt”?

  • Perhaps the problem was that he didn't understand the common construction too [adjective] of a(n) [noun]. Dec 20 '16 at 13:52
  • 2
    You'd usually say such a plot is thin, not abrupt. Dec 20 '16 at 13:54
  • 3
    A particular plot point could be described as too abrupt, but not the plot itself.
    – John Feltz
    Dec 20 '16 at 14:01
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers Definitely doesn't sound like the kind of thing I'd describe as a thin plot. A thin plot to me is there and may be quite drawn out—it's just bad and weak and doesn't catch the reader. Dec 20 '16 at 18:31
  • Agreed @JanusBahsJacquet - plots are often described as thin when there's one overarching theme or goal to the story, and the rest of the plot is just a thin veneer in service to that.
    – Beejamin
    Dec 22 '16 at 15:46

In this case, I'd argue that there isn't really a plot. I think it's probably better to say that the story's ending is abrupt, but I personally would find it acceptable to describe this as too abrupt of a plot.

  • 1
    So long as you all remember that it's 'too abrupt' and not 'too abrupt of…' anything Jan 3 '17 at 23:40

As FumbleFingers pointed out, the word 'weak' is often used to describe a story that lacks a real meat and potatoes plot. You could also say the plot gains no real traction, or fails to build throughout the story.


In an incorrigible conundrum 'deus ex machina' is a devine or providential interference in solving the crisis getting out of control of dramatists. Nowadays it goes to mean anything of the creator's invention outside the logical interweaving of the plot in resolving a crisis either grown out of proportion or gone far beyond his control. In the absence of a better term, we may call it "EXTRA CIRCUMSTANTIAL INTERVENTION/INTERFERENCE".

Plots are the sumtotal of action and interaction both physical and mental but noless situational and out of their conflicts and agreements, a plot advances. So it is not proper to think a plot is abrupt; it's ending is abrupt. And with a plot as such, it could be a good short story but must be a poorly composed drama or novel.

  • That’s not what I was referring to. The situation was well inside the story: the “other guy” just doesn’t have a fighting chance so there’s no give and take, no drawn out battle, etc. If side B pulled out some win or the gods decided to smite A for unrelated reasons, that would be a Deus ex machina.
    – JDługosz
    Jan 1 '17 at 20:06
  • @JDlugosz let us call it dramatist's (human) intervention. He simply doesn't want the plot to grow. Jan 1 '17 at 20:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.