setting the stage
October 21, 2011 1 Comment
I’m creating a novel template for myself. I’m combing through my craft binders and books to get an organized structure for my future stories since I’ve always gone forth on a new project with barely a clue. It was tons of fun finding the story along the way. The only rule was to begin –
in medias res,( Latin: “in the midst of things”) in narrative technique, the recommended practice of beginning an epic or other fictional form by plunging into a crucial situation that is part of a related chain of events; the situation is an extension of previous events and will be developed in later action. The narrative then goes directly forward, and exposition of earlier events is supplied by flashbacks. The principle is based on the practice of Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Iliad,for example, begins dramatically with the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon during theTrojan War.
The Trojan War ended a few years ago but its lesson of a gift horse being a prelude to disaster is still current. A romance reader knows from the first pages that the hero and heroine are going to get their happily ever after, after a few disasters. What separates a good story from a mediocre one is how those disasters are staged.
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind the story is staged as beginning when it really has ended and the movie is halfway over before the audience has a clue that this whole story is “in medius res”. The movie also didn’t get funny or fascinating until it was half over when the real story was suddenly revealed as a twisting mire through time and memories.
What I learned from this movie (and all the library books and movies I’ve been randomly selecting) is – there’s really no reason for me to write anything. Every theme and story is already written. I certainly have opinions on them all but that whole angst and months of aggravation to write a new story? Not needed.
So I can approach my whole process of writing romantic fiction as a joy, a passion, and not as a paycheck or because I’m so desperately tortured by the brilliance of my muse. Instead, I can sit for hours writing stories because I love it and have the skills to do so well enough to entertain readers. I’m pretty sure the text only book will be around for a few more decades even if it is on an electronic reader. The whole ebook thing is a a Trojan Horse to some…
So while I can’t promote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as delightful entertainment, if you’re a writer and want to get a clue about the concept of “in medius res” this is a movie to watch, and learn.