The All-Important Inciting Incident
Updated: May 2
Okay, let’s talk about the inciting incident.
The catalyst. The hook. Or whatever you want to call it.
For me, this is the defining moment that changes everything for the main character.
It catapults them into the plot, triggering the onset of their transformative journey.
And in my books, it usually happens no later than chapter 2.
So, what exactly am I talking about?
Let’s take a look at The Secret in Sandcastles.
As we discussed during our overview of the Opening Image, Penny is risk adverse. She has a long list of phobias and likes to play it safe.
When she agrees to take over Beverly Lawrence's writing assignment for the visitor center's revamped website, she gets a little more than she bargained for when the headline is changed from Poppy Creek's Top 5 Activities for Senior Citizens to...
Poppy Creek's Top 5 Spine-Tingling Adventures
AKA Penny's worst nightmare.
To add to her bad luck, her obnoxiously handsome and charming childhood nemesis, Colt Davis, volunteers to help.
So, what's a girl to do?
If she refuses, she leaves Beverly in the lurch. The woman who's been like a mother to her ever since she was a little girl.
If she goes through with it, she'll have to face fears she's spent her entire life avoiding. And most of all... risk losing her heart.
It's a no-win situation. A point of no-return. A from this moment on my life will never be the same scenario.
It's the reason readers will keep turning the page to find out what happens.
And Every. Single. Story. Must. Have. This. Moment.
I place it no later than chapter 2 so readers can dive in to the meat of the story as soon as possible.
Chapter one sets the stage and the characters. We meet the hero and heroine and glimpse why their lives need to change.
Then comes the incident that sparks that change. And the fun begins!
In The Clause in Christmas, it's the moment Cassie learns of the clause in her grandmother's will. Without the clause, we wouldn't really have a story, would we?
Now, time to figure out what YOUR inciting incident will be.
Feel free to comment below with any questions. And I'd love to hear what you come up with in your own stories!