1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    What Do You Make of 'In Media Res'?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cacian, Jan 4, 2012.

    In other words:
    Have you ever attempted it?

    This style reminds me of the book
    'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' because of the way it works backward in time rather then forward.
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button does not start In Media Res.
     
  3. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I know it doesn't.
    What I meant is because he was born young but with a face of an old person and as he progresses through he becomes young.
    The idea is working in reverse against reality or the clock.
    So starting a story in the middle of an action and then working backwards with flashbacks made think of the book.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    In Media Res means that the narrative starts in the middle and then goes to the end, using the beginning of the story as a back drop. If you had read further into that Wikipedia page you'd have seen that.
     
  5. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Not necessarily - it starts in the middle but it can then go back to the beginning using flashback as well. Then when it gets to the point where it started (i.e the middle) it can carry on to the end. Homer's Odyssey follows this pattern.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and it's a common technique in fiction... especially for mysteries/thrillers...
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    You do realize that's exactly what I said.
     
  8. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    LOL


    p.s: sorry for the one-worded reply
     
  9. Kallithrix
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    Lemex, you didn't say that - you said starts in the middle and goes to the end using the beginning as a backdrop - backdrop is not what I would call an inserted flashback, more like...I don't actually know what that is. Nice scenery.
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    backdrop [ˈbækˌdrɒp]
    n
    1. (Performing Arts / Theatre) another name for backcloth
    2. the background to any scene or situation
    Taken from thefreedictionary.com
     
  11. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    In Media Res just means you start your novel without preamble. Start with the inciting incident, not with the whole history of the character prior to the inciting incident. In some cases, it is explained as 'start with action', but that often confuses beginners who think a novel needs to start with an explosion or a car chase.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In media res is nearly always the best place to start a novel. Ruthlessly carve away the dull preliminaries and background material, and begin where something significant is taking place. Show your characters dealing with a challenge -- big or small. What better way to reveal your characters' natures than by showing their responses to stress and crisis?

    The background material can be introduced later, in bits and pieces. That way, you will introduce only what is truly needed, and leave out the fluff and mush.
     
  13. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Fixed.

    If you're writing some high-octane action or a procedural crime novel or something like that, then your readers will generally expect to begin in the middle of some kind of action. But there are plenty of readers who understand that there are other, equally (or more) effective ways to structure a narrative. Mainstream popular fiction often privileges the in media res structure because it's also the structure favoured in mainstream popular cinema, and the sorts of people who read and watch those things don't like to have to do much work for their entertainment.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    It sounds like you're assuming that the term means that you're starting with a gun battle or exploding helicopter. I'd say that it applies equally to a quiet ladylike passive-aggressive argument between matron and daughter-in-law over afternoon tea. To me, it just means that it starts with events of some importance to the plot, rather than starting with explanatory background material like a description and biography of the characters.
     
  15. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    @ arron89,
    To start a story In Media Res has been 'fashionable' since before the dawn of cinema. Furthermore, like ChickenFreak points out, it just means you start your story at [or just before] the inciting incident that marks the change for the main character. That can be an exploding car, but it can also be a quiet conversation where someone is badgered or manipulated in changing her behavior. It's the same as putting conflict in a story - conflict can be a man with a gun to the main character's head, but it can also be an accountant showing the CEO that there's a significant miscalculation in the accounts.
     
  16. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I am not sure it is for me.
    Naturally we humans follow a course of logic which to start from say A and lend at C .
    Starting at B then Landing at A then going back to C sounds a bit scatty to me.
    I couldn't do it with a car and I could not with me, it would look very iffy if attempted live on stage/theatre, so why would I do it with a story?
     
  17. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    That would be a much harder case to prove. Really, the key issue in determining whether something is in media res is its linear or temporal character; that is, in order for something to be in media res, it must be in the middle or conclusion of a story, rather than the start. With the case, for instance, of a gun fight that begins in media res, then this non-linearity is obvious--the starting point of the action was the beginning of the fight, and so we are not beginning at the beginning. In a less action-oriented or character-driven piece, the story generally begins where the author begins--the author may begin with dramatic action like a conversation or a stroll through the park, but that alone does not make the story in media res since it's difficult in such cases to show that this scene is non-linear since flashbacks don't necessarily constitute a return to the beginning of the story and may in fact be perfectly linear even if they are temporally displaced.

    Beginning with conflict is not the definition of in media res, it's a characteristic of some fiction that begins in media res.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cacian...
    it's also done in stage plays, just as it is on the screen... and it's not at all 'iffy' when done by an accomplished playwright, screenwriter, or novelist...
     

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