In medias res most accurately mirrors life, which is why I’m so drawn to this narrative style.
What is in medias res?
This Latin phrase means “into the middle of things.” It’s a storytelling technique which begins the story from the midpoint of action without any knowledge of what preceded it.
As a writer, writing in medias res helps me to flush out stories. Instead of getting caught up with back story, or laying a foundation, I immediately write the action. It’s that action that sets the tone, the characters, and for me, the ending as well.
From there, I can break the story into other parts, and weave them together, so the story is cohesive. I like the fact the story doesn’t have to be told in a linear fashion, which mimics life.
Isn’t this how we begin our lives when we are born?
Look at your family’s story and see how it is told.
Many times when I discover information about my family it isn’t in a linear fashion, but comes in spurts, and without a timeline. When all of the information is pieced together, the story makes sense, but until that point, it doesn’t necessarily. Case in point is the story of The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest. His behavior and story didn’t make sense until Gabriel London came along and put the puzzle pieces of Mark’s life together. Then the story formed and Mark was better understood.
Now, think about your friends. With our friends, we’re being dropped in medias res, and we learn who they are by being with them, by living life with them, but we never know the true past of which they derived. We may possibly get the glimpse of what once was, but we only know of what is now, and move forward from that point of entry into their lives.
Some examples of in medias res are: the movie, Momento, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, Paradise Lost by John Milton, the short story Drawn Onward by Matt Madden, the short story Roman Fever by Edith Wharton and so many others…
Watch this well done ad using in media res. At the end of this ad is how the ad was created, and the story behind the ad, which is an intriguing part of WWI history.