Hi SErs! It’s a day of Harmony here at Story Empire 🙂 Today, I’d like to talk about using In Media Res in a prologue. Here’s a link to the previous post on Outsider’s Reports in Prologues.
How do you write an In Media Res prologue, and do it well?
NOTE: In Media Res is from the Latin for ‘In the midst of things.’ In the case of a prologue, In Media Res starts the story without any introduction …
- In Media Res opens in the middle of the action.
- The purpose of an In Media Res prologue is to inspire intense curiosity in the reader by slamming them into the midst of an action-packed, emotionally charged moment.
- Such a prologue is good for sensation-focused narratives such as erotica and horror. It also works well with westerns, spy thrillers, war chronicles, etc.
- This type of prologue opens with an effect, then the ensuing chapters will backtrack to explain the cause.
- You put your reader in the thick of the action with characters they haven’t yet met with things happening that they don’t yet understand.
Warning: In Media Res is easy to write but difficult to do well.
How to Write a Bad In Media Res Prologue:
- Withhold crucial information from your reader.
- Miss the fine line between ‘too much exposition’ and ‘no exposition’ at all.
- Give the reader no reason to care about the protagonist or situation.
- Dump them in the middle of things without any clue at all as to what is happening or to whom.
- Write far too much and make the prologue far too long … this kind of prologue needs to be kept short!
How to Write a Good In Media Res Prologue:
- Hook the reader with a mystery that’s full of emotion, so they want to read on to learn the why and the how.
- Be clear and concise.
- Cut to the chase–but make sure your reader knows who is who. One prologue that ignored this point deliberately was a book I identified in Part Six, Spoilers Ahoy: The Catch by T M Logan. In this book, the prologue was quite short, and it showed one person being murdered by another. However, it gave away no identities nor other crucial plot details. The essential point here is that the whole prologue was no more than a page long. In fact, the whole prologue holds six paragraphs, and many of those are only one sentence long … furthermore, one of those sentences contains just the one word … you get the idea.
An In Media Res prologue has done its job if the reader feels compelled to read on to learn more about what’s just happened. At this point, they won’t know any character history, or why such emotively compelling events just took place. But the action is emotive and charged enough to make the reader care and want to find out more.
TOP TIP: When you write a good prologue, and have a valid reason for using one, it will enhance your story rather than detract from it.
Remember: There are NO hard-and-fast rules. You can do anything you want, as long as you do it well and with good reason.
That’s it from me today. I hope you’ll find this series of posts useful. I’ll see you again on Monday 28th November, when we’ll take a look at How to Write a Prologue—Recap of Tools 🙂
The prologue series so far:
©2022 Harmony Kent