chapter  8
22 Pages

Viewpoints

The Latin phrase in medias res (‘into the middle of things’) is used todescribe a narrative that doesn’t begin at the beginning but at some crucial point in the midst of the action. The beginning is then usually given in flashback. Here is the opening to my novel Common Ground, which offers a fairly low-key example of in medias res:

The window shook in its frame and then the rain came. Ashley wrapped himself in a blanket and stood closer to the heater. He faced into the street. On the opposite kerb a red car had been abandoned beneath a shedding sycamore. With each damp gust of wind a shower of leaves fell to the bonnet and roof and stuck as if glued. The car was new, a model advertised everywhere on roadside hoardings, in bus shelters and train stations. It was designed for the city. The windscreen lay like a sheet of crazed ice across the front seats. The rear tyres were flat and the bodywork was dented. As he looked down, two girls paused on their way to the top of the street and pilfered what little remained to be taken – a cassette tape and window wipe, a bottle of oil from the boot. Twenty yards up the road they dropped all three in the gutter.