25 November 2012

How Do You Figure Out Your Inciting Incident?

So, I'm back again with the same story that caused my NaNoWriMo demise in 2011 and again in 2012. I'm also back at the same plot line I used in 2011 (I've ditched this year's approach).

Well, without going into too many details, I am caught at the same plot point as I was in 2011 - the inciting incident. The point at which everything starts.

And I have no idea what that is for this story, just like I felt last year. Which means I am extremely frustrated.

I knew the inciting incident for my fantasy story! It was when my main character came face to face with her enemy. She knew it was time to run and when she ran, it caused a domino effect. The whole "story" thing started to happen.

Now, I know what is going to happen, with who, and where, but I just don't know how to get started. It's kind of like trying to find directions using GoogleMaps and you aren't sure whether you want to bus, drive, or walk.

While researching inciting incident, I came across an article that basically broke it down in four possible options:

1) it's something that is impossible for the main character to avoid,

2) it hits a vulnerable point,

3) it causes conflict for all characters involved,

4) or it's the type of event that would capture anyone's attention.

The last time I approached this story, the inciting incident I used before took the story in a direction I didn't like. So, I don't want to use it again. But now I'm still left stymied over how I want all of this to kick off.

What is your novel's inciting incident? What is an inciting incident you remember from your favorite book or movie?


  1. For me, the inciting incidents are in my memories. They are long past skeletons in my mental closet which come out to play what-if games. Considering I write southern murder based suspense, espionage thrillers and zombie fiction it says a lot about my life...down right scary.

    My children's books are subjects which my grandchildren talk to me about which terrifies them with subjects like childhood abuse, kidnapping, bullying, divorce, living with steps etc. It's not an easy life from their POV either.

    My question is...is it really fiction or is reality stranger than fiction?

  2. You are very right! These inciting moments in our life that trigger the big moments are truly the bare bones. They don't have to be very big moments, but they are moments that are strong enough to cause a trigger. To cause a shift.

  3. If you were going to tell your story to someone who had no idea what your story was about, where would you start?

    1. Good point!!! Wow, this actually really helped me! Thank you!

  4. The inciting incident in my novel is the death of my protagonist's mother, which has already happened when it opens. It relieves her from her three-year burden of caregiving and forces her out into the world to start again.

    1. I like your inciting incident because it ties into the plot and the character's growth!

  5. The inciting incident in my novel happens when a young detective discovers two of her cold cases, seven and five years old, respectively, are linked and that a killer has struck again. A fresh kill gives her new leads to work with and she knows if she finds the killer, more than likely she will put together a pattern which will tie all three cases together and put this town to rest once and for all.

    It's what calls your protagonist forward whether they want to go or not, they must go! Also, once they go, it is considered the point of no return, they will never be the same, they have left their world as they knew it.

    1. Oh I love that last sentence of yours!!! It's good! I may have to use that again in some way. :)

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