BlogLet's Get Technical

Let’s Get Technical: In Media Res

Let's Get Technical

What is In Media Res?

The idea of In Media Res is a technical Latin term meaning ‘in the middle of things.’ When it comes to narratives, traditionally stories begin at the very beginning. This is the case with fairytales. For example the classic line “once upon a time” is a traditional beginning from the very start of the story. A story beginning In Media Res would start in the middle of the story, with many years of pre-existing story before and behind the narrative. So with that said, how does In Media Res connect back to the best creative writing experience. 

How does In Media Res help creative writing?

The Pixar animation studio are some of the best storytellers in the modern world. Their films helped promote the current state of excellent computer animated films. They released twenty two storytelling tips, each of which connect back to one key idea. This being the idea of creating excellent stories that appeal to the audience and the writer.

In Media Res as a technique can help create work which appeals to that audience. When a story begins at the chronological start it can become predictable. It triggers a formulaic expression. Where the audience expects that: ‘the story begins here, then these things happen, and it finishes happily ever after.’

Unlike traditional and systematic storytelling, starting in the middle breaks the cycle of predictability. It drops the reader directly into the middle of action, or big events. By doing this, the writer can hook the reader from the very beginning.

And how can you use this technique?

Many writers struggle with beginning their stories. The big question is often ‘where to begin.’ However, perhaps one thing that is lacking from your story is a careful consideration of ‘when to begin.’ Can you begin your story in the middle of your plotted action and begin from there? Perhaps doing so might better hook your audience or provide a better emotional attachment to your interesting characters. Because sometimes beginning at the start means readers see elements of characters that are tedious or uninteresting. Maybe, just beginning in the middle, could introduce a new take on these characters and situations. It is worth a try at the very least.

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