The Inciting Incident: Every story needs One

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I thought I’d talk about Writing. I haven’t done this in a while and I figured it was high time  I did. 🙂

 

Today, I want to talk about the “Inciting Incident.”

Every story must have one. So, what is the “Inciting Incident?”

The Inciting Incident is the Event or Decision that begins the story problem. It’s the catalyst of all the events in your story. The spark that lights the fire.

Photo credit: compassrose_04 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

So, naturally it should be in the first chapter. Usually in the first paragraph, but not always. Sometimes you have to introduce the characters first, so the reader will understand the importance of the incident. For example, in my story “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer” I had to introduce the Cat Lady before the incident in order to establish her importance as the victim. In that novel, the inciting incident is when the girls make the decision to investigate the Cat Lady’s death on their own.

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In “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” the inciting incident is when an explosion demolishes the high school and the girls make the decision to search for their uncle who was in the school when the bomb went off. The explosion happens at the beginning of the story, but the decision to investigate doesn’t happen until the girls realize he’s missing. The decision to find him is the catalyst for all the other events in the story.

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I know all the young adult experts out there are saying you have to start your story in the middle of the action. This is good advice just as long as you have the inciting incident in there. It is an important story element that you can’t go without.

You can’t begin your story after the decision has been made. Novel writing doesn’t work that way. All the tension or the angst you want to create naturally won’t be there because you’re starting your story in the wrong spot.

The inciting incident doesn’t have to be any major event, either. It can be something as simple as making a decision about which path to take, or finding a cell phone.

In the story, “The Super Spies and the Pied Piper” the inciting incident is when the FBI gets a “ping” on the main character’s parents’ cell phone and then they lose it. Again, the girls make the decision to investigate on their own. This is the catalyst for all the events throughout the story.

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As you can see, the inciting incident, although small, is a very important part of the story problem. No novel is complete without it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today. Do you have anything you’d like to add about the inciting incident? If so, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

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About Lisa Orchard

I'm a Young Adult Author with two new series, "The Starlight Chronicles" and "The Super Spies." The first one's a coming of age series and the second one's a mystery/thriller series. I'm also the mother of two boys who keep me hopping and they're my inspiration for everything. When I'm not shuttling my boys to school or a play date, I'm writing. When I'm not writing, I'm reading, hiking, or sometimes running. I love anything chocolate and scary movies too.
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One Response to The Inciting Incident: Every story needs One

  1. Pingback: Using Inciting Incident to Make Your Story Interesting – CHO LITERARY BLOG

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