Stories start in-media-res, Latin for in the midst of things.

I liken it to car troubles. One night, you’re driving home from work and the check engine light comes on. The car seems fine, no rattles and she handles well on the road. So you neglect it. A few weeks later as you pull onto the highway, your muffler sounds different. A soft hum. Is that your car? A neighboring car? You decide it was your car and you decide that you will call the shop tonight. Later that night, you again think you should call the shop, but she actually drove smoothly, and that might cost more money than expected, and your wife is starting an episode of Game of Thrones. So you neglect it. Next time you pull on the highway, the muffler hums. You turn up the music to drown it out and drive on. After a few weeks of neglecting it, you can enjoy Jack Johnson in peace, windows down even — you’ve become blind to it and no longer even perceive its hum.

Some weekend in your near future, you, your wife, and your freshly born little girl head off to a cabin on a lake. It’s a beautiful sunny day. Your wife packed a freshly cut up pineapple. Jack Johnson playing. In your rearview mirror, Annabella in her chair seat squirms around, smiling and spitting. You smile.

SCREEEEK! You’re muffler screams to its death, fading out, as you pull the car to the side of the road.

Now, your story starts. Now we find out your wife asked you to fix that 100 times. We find out there’s no gas station for 30 miles. Now, we watch how he gets out of this situation and in the process learns from his past mistakes. We’re in the middle of a problem that has been building for weeks or years. All that neglect must now be confronted face on, and in order to solve the external problem, we need to change internally.

And that’s what we come to story for. It’s not to see all the times he neglected the check engine light. It’s to see how he’ll change because he neglected so much that he got himself into a difficult situation. We open a book wanting to start in-media-res.