Thursday, October 9, 2014

#Plan4WriMo Day 9: Identify Your Inciting Incident

It’s day nine, and we’ve waded through the shallow end of the plotting pool. Now it’s time for deeper waters. Today we’re really going to start delving into story architecture and plotting. If you’re a hardcore pantser this is likely to make you break out in hives. Don’t give up on me yet--we’re not going to do architecture/structure stuff every day. Not unless you want to have a headache or anxiety attacks for the next 22 days.

But if you’re open-minded to the idea of plotting or are revising a WIP, this is good stuff for analyzing your plot. Most of the “keywords” I’ll mention in these plotting posts are from Larry Brooks’ series on story structure (i.e. 6 core competencies). That’s because his definitions and explanations make sense to me in a more concrete way than any other method of plotting I’ve tried.

It works for me. It won’t work for everyone.

But if you’re a plotter and you haven’t read his series on NaNoWriMo, you really should.

During this month, whenever I’m doing one of these plot posts, I’ll use concrete examples from HARRY POTTER & THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE by JK Rowling, DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth, and THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. If you’ve never read any of these I can’t help you. No for real, go read these books! Then come back to my blog. :)

Today’s “term” is Inciting Incident—which means a lot of different things depending on whose story structure theory you’re reading. For me the inciting incident is exactly what it sounds like—an incident in your story that incites everything that happens in your book. Typically the inciting incident is something that happens to your main character. It is the first important moment without which nothing that happens in your book can happen. And this occurs very early in your book.

Today’s concrete examples:

THE HUNGER GAMES: Prim’s name is drawn in the reaping.

HARRY POTTER & THE PHILOSPHER’S STONE: An owl attempts to deliver a letter to Harry at his Aunt and Uncle’s house.

DIVERGENT: Beatrice receives inconclusive results on her faction test.


The inciting incident is a book’s catalyst. So what’s yours?

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