I'm reading a book with a fairy godmother. No, not Cinderella. Let's imagine a poor hero who has a lot of bad things happen to him, and he makes a few mistakes, and he ends up losing his job, and he gets really depressed and instead of looking for another job, he starts building birdhouses in his backyard. Just because. Using his hands, hammering nails-- it helps him forget his problems and ignore his financial trouble.
Then a man comes into the yard and says he runs a chain of home stores and happened to be driving by and saw the birdhouses and loved them, and wants a thousand of them to sell in his store. And oh, here's half ahead of time to help pay for materials. (Nothing is ever said, by the way, about zoning ordinances and the need for business insurance. But then, in fairy tales, those things aren't factors.)
Hero can't believe his luck!
Neither can I.
Come on, come on, come on. The fairy godmother worked for Cinderella because that was a fairy tale. Magical things are supposed to happen in fairytales. But a realistic contemporary novel about the struggles of a modern man in a complex world?
It's not just that the fairy godmother reaching out and anointing him with the magic wand of wonderfulness teaches him nothing and in fact bypasses the whole struggle/conflict/pain/change process. Not every book has to be about changing in the face of adversity (though that's usually not a bad story), but the story should still be entertaining... and this isn't. The fairy godmother solves the problem in a moment, and that's not long enough for fun to happen in the story-- no chills, no thrills, no emotion, no anger, nothing much, because a moment just isn't long enough.
And in this case, the moment of exaltation-- "The fairy godmother saved me!"-- isn't much of a happy payoff for slogging through 300 pages sympathizing with this poor guy and his vicissitudes. the reader will want more of a buildup, more of a thrilling ride to a crisis, a longer climactic event. So why not try to make the resolution of the conflict the result-- direct-- of the actions and reactions of the protagonist? It's harder to plot that then bringing in a fairy godmother, but the story will be a better read if you work at it. :)
I know most of you would think this was cheating -- a deus ex machina. But I see it all the time in submissions and contest entries, so I think there must be a desire among many writers to show miracles happening.