Narrative Techniques Series: #8 In medias res

Narrative Techniques Series: #8 In medias res

The 8th episode of the narrative techniques series is about In medias res: it concerns the narration starting from the middle of the story.

In medias res literally means “in the middle of the topic”. It was coined by Orace (65 – 8 a.C.) in his Ars Poetica.

A narration that starts in medias res catapults us directly into the heart of the story. This Narrative Technique is the opposite of the ab ovo one, which considers starting the narration from the very beginning.

What is the Narrative Technique ofIn medias res?

The beginning of narration is one of the most important steps. It must not bore the readers but attract their attention.

So, by using this narrative technique, the writer decides not to follow the course of the events in a chronological way, but to play with the story moving the narration pieces depending on the effect he wants to give to his story.

A narration that begins in medias res is obviously more engaging than a classical one as “Once upon a time…”.

It causes an immediate interest in the readers and spurs them to go on in the reading to better understand what the writer is writing about.

How to use the In medias res Narrative Technique

This narrative technique goes well with the flashback one. Therefore, it involves using the blocks of the story to create a part of the narration and to report them through the flashback technique. Thanks to this we, as readers, learn something more about the origin, the characters, and the main conflict of the story.

In medias res is often used in thriller narration. A dead body is discovered and here the reader has to find out who the criminal is.

In medias res Narrative Technique: some examples

Many books start with this Narrative Technique. One of them, one of the most famous, is the Iliad of Homer. For instance, already from the first lines, it drags us on the battlefield between pain and corps, left at the mercy of dogs and raptors.

Similarly, in cinema, there are a lot of examples of In medias res. Think about the series How to get away with murder. Every season of this TV series starts with a crime and with a dead body. During the episodes, the spectator understands a little more about the story and what happened.

bibisco’s novel writing software helps you to create your story

A writer can decide to start a narration from the end, from the middle, or the beginning of the story. This choice is fundamental because prompts the reader or the viewer to continue the narration.

bibisco has some very useful tools. Its innovative novel planning software allows you to create your story using the Narrative Technique In medias res.

Narrative Techniques Series: In media res - bibisco's chapters' section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s chapters’ section


In our Narrative Techniques Series, we explore techniques that help the writer to arouse an interest in the reader from the beginning: In medias res is one of the more efficient techniques to achieve this goal.

Keep going on our narrative journey and read the next article to find out what’s the next storytelling technique you can use to create a unique and breathtaking story.

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