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"he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug."

"he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug."

A Lesson by scatterbrain

in media res


Scenes are not a necessity for good writing. For poems and speculative writing, all that’s necessary is the philosophical, informative breath and good organization (paragraphs or stanzas).

Scenes are necessary for good stories, though. The progression of characters through struggle and life through time is the very definition of fictional scenes. One cannot tell a story of the fire inside the bowling alley started by the drinking teenagers without writing of teenagers drinking and setting a fire in the bowling alley. To convey such a scene as I just have, it loses all merit of being a story and becomes a statement.

This much should be quite obvious, but the difficult task of a writer is deciding what scenes to write, where to start in those scenes, and where to end said scene. The idea/story will speak to you, and you must have the tools to speak back (I will tell you of one tool, grasshopper!).

A grasp on one’s environment and reality helps; because in order to progress a nonexistent person’s thoughts and actions, one must know how people of different perspectives react in situations. Once one has such mental tool, they will be able to master the scene, and not only write one, but start in media res.

‘Into the middle of things’.

Once you know you want to write a scene about a bowling alley on fire because of pesky, drunk teenagers, then you need to consider the 1) best time to enter the scene and 2) the best vantage point for your perspective/point-of-view. Rather than start the action with the teens entering the alley (drinking and jumping around), start twenty minutes later when they’ve set the Candy-Grab machine on fire. They’re drunk and scared because of this fire, and they scream that they just wanted the candy. Humor? Or the fire starts when one of the fools throws the bowling bowl straight into the air, where it hits a neon pipe and goes into the ceiling. A gaseous explosion, ceiling falls in? Tragedy/drama? The most drunk teen gets angry that he’s hit the gutter three times, and shoots a fireball from his hand? Fantasy?

Okay. That was a long block of text to read… let’s finish here. Lesson learned; immediately throw your reader in media res, where the most compelling writing is done.

For another expanded example, here’s Conan’s twist of the concept, by purposely throwing the viewers into the middle of a Walker Texas Ranger episode… and humor ensues.




Gimme your best stories using this concept, throwing the reader into the middle of a scene. The twist: you have to write 3 stories, all under 45 words. The minimum is one word. Post your work onto WritersCafe and add it to our Scattersbrain,Unite writing. Extra examples below, and my own will be posted after this.

      A couple of examples:


         1)dale hid his candy bar under the house where no one would find it, but the ants ate it. It was his Christmas present.

         2) Six blind men followed each other into a pit. The six deaf men didn’t hear their cries for help.

         3) When Tory’s imaginary friend ate the Lifesavers, Dad left him on the side of the road.


Previous Lesson


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Posted 3 Years Ago

Hello dear how are you ? i am miss Pamela , by name i saw your profile at and was move to contact you, please contact me back in my email ( ) for me to tell you more about me or you can send me your private email for me to send you mail on it and tell you my reason i contact you, am waiting for your email to my email
( )

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Posted 6 Years Ago

haha, thanks guys.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

I added him :P

i read the three posts between you and added him, but didn't respond. that's on me ahaha. glad you enjoyed the lesson though, Effewe. Franklin is my teacher's pet... he's scared he'll fail elsewise.

(just kidding Franklin. we're lovers in an alternative universe)

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Posted 6 Years Ago

Hmm. I'm afraid I don't know what to tell you. I'm not really familiar with the inner workings of the system. I had assumed that people could still join the group. You might try getting hold of scatterbrain; as the moderator he might know more about it.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

Ok, I posted mine (hopefully right) on my profile and found the group, but could not join. Is it by invite? The "join group" link was not clickable.


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Posted 6 Years Ago

Post it on your profile like normal, then search for and join the "Scatterbrains Unite" group. That group is a complement to this course. At the top of the group page is a 'writing' tab. Add your work there. It's a way to place everyone's work on the same page. Looking forward to reading what you come up with.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

I will write something on this. Do I post it in the comments or simply as one of my writings with keywords?

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Posted 6 Years Ago

179 views!? and only 2 have commented? :/ that's not very good on my part.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

another well-known example:

Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" (on my to-read list). opening line:

"A screaming comes across the sky."

whereas, Stephen King's newest novel, Under the Dome, begins in the plane with the Chief's wife, and not for pages does the dome actually fall. Pynchon throws us right into it, doesn't settle time or location or character. just... a screaming comes across the sky.

i've got to get that at the library next time...

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Posted 6 Years Ago

"mood, chaos and what happens just before, and during the fire being lit"
i agree. and if I were the writer, I would certainly describe all of what you listed. it was just an example, and it had nothing to do with the 45 words or less prompt. ultimately, you could write something using that idea (bowling alley), and I could write something, and though they would be light-years apart, each of us would be correct and good in the story's own way. there is no one way in writing :)

and franklin... next assignment is a two-parter, the first part being about cliff-hangers :P

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Added on September 13, 2010
Last Updated on September 13, 2010
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8/24 - I'm not going to critique another poem on this site unless it blows my mind.