Writing Advice: Start Your Story In The Middle


writing“‘In Medias res’ if the Latin term for the middle of things, and that’s how Homer opened the Iliad and that’s where you should usually start, although rules can always be creatively broken.”— “So You Want To Write” by Marge Piercy and Ira Wood

Yes, it is like telling someone to joke, about a rabbi and a monk at a bar. Now keep in mind we’re at a bar and our attention span is shrinking as the liquor increases. So just tell me, and every one to punchline all the joke, a quick setup, and joke and keeping it moving.

Imagine the same joke, but long before the punch line I tell you the family history of the rabbi staring back in 1945—see you already turned off. You probably interrupted me or had cut me off long before I could tell you the monk’s background or the punch line. In my opinion, they feel as if you’re killing the buzz with a bio a Rabbi and the monk and I really want and everyone else wants a joke. So we’ll get it else would not come you.

So you’re writing, how you start from the middle. And where is the middle?

I suggest start your story close or as near to the conflict as you can fill in the “beginning” when or where need.
So let’s say this is your story:

  1. The calm before the storm—the husband comes home tired and she a good housewife.
  2. This is when we have a couple having a drink and going over there bills for the month. But no action is happening
  3. The couple, after about twenty minutes discovers a change, by his wife that he didn’t know of, a dinner for two at the city’s     finest restaurant. And an overnight hotel bill charged to the card.
  4. The couple has a heated argument when a lot is said but the forced her to apologized for her actions.
  5. The husband leaves wife and files for divorce and falls in love with a beautiful new woman.
  6. He reflected on his decision and analyzed the pros and cons and contempt with his decision.
  7. He returns back to a normal life.

My advice would start your story on point 3 and end it at point 6 and use points 1 and 2 for background info, keeping with the pace of points 3 through 6 and do so sparingly.

In fact, I would start with the husband’s emotion for the finding the bill then get her response to the argument. Allowing action or dialogue to develop the conflict usually makes the conflict more interesting as long as you’re showing and not telling.

Keep the story moving by omitting unnecessary dialog and unnecessary one-liners or even one-word dialogues like “what” or “huh” unless they somehow add to the characters’ mood or the settings. If the dialog is going to be receptivity back and forth, summarize it.

Be sure to answer the question: “Why am I reading this?” which is what every reader is going to ask themselves—almost like they’re asking the story the question. By starting with the conflict, or a small build up for the conflict, you answer the question almost immediately. “This is another creative take on cheating couples.” And your craftsmanship of the sentences and storytelling will hold their attention, or it should, until the end.

However, if you start it off with point one: the answer to the reader’s question is “This is another take on a tired husband coming home from a day’s work.” There no action or intrigue about that and any given reader would know that husband came home took the load off—so what? You just lost your reader.

So remember to start just at the conflict and keep the background info, even names of characters, until later in the story when you can add them in without messing up your flow.

One thought on “Writing Advice: Start Your Story In The Middle

Add Comment