In eighth grade, I had an English teacher named Mr. Biggs. We met during fifth period—right after lunch—every day.
loved to share “cocktail information”—random tidbits of information that might
one day come in handy as we tried to make small talk at a cocktail party. What
I remember most is the enthusiasm with which he shared these tidbits.
was enthusiastic about everything—especially the stories we read and analyzed, which
is probably why much of what we learned that year remains firmly in my memory.
One example is the term “in media res”—a story that starts in the middle of the
action and then backtracks to the beginning.
narrative nonfiction for children has a chronological sequence text structure
overall, in media res openings are quite common. One of my favorite examples is
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin.
author Heather Montgomery sent me this wonderful piece
from Transom in which Rob Rosenthal dissects a radio story that employs what
he calls the “e” story structure. Turns out e = in media res, but after hearing
Rosenthal’s explanation, I might just prefer his terminology. Sorry, Mr Biggs.
interested learning more about how narrative nonfiction can be constructed, I
highly recommend you take 26 minutes to listen.