The inciting incident in a work of fiction is what gets the plot moving. Think of it as the first flashy set of fireworks that leads into an awesome display which lights up the sky and sets up the crescendo at the end. In other words, it will also lead directly to the climax.
A superb inciting incident will keep your audience glued to your words, reading at warp-speed with the driving desire to finish your story. And this image is what keeps our fingers flying on the keyboard, right?
Here are five suggestions to help you make your inciting incident heart-stopping:
- Immediately place your protagonist in a dire situation where a decision must be made and there is precious little time in which to make it.
- Force your protagonist to compromise on her ideals – give your reader hope that this compromise will lead her to a bright outcome.
- Give your protagonist the opportunity to feel pain – allow him to be uncomfortable, hurt, vulnerable – give your audience a reason to root for him.
- Allow the villain free reign and control to show the strength in the protagonist, the refusal to give in despite towering odds.
- Forget the introduction altogether and begin the novel with the inciting incident – start your story with a bang! The rest can be filled in throughout the rising action.
There are many ways to keep your readers engaged. Obviously, voice and style are key. However:
- We live in an era designed to take our audience’s attention away.
- Readers are also quite savvy and images/settings/backstories that once took pages or even chapters to create can now be created in a paragraph or even a sentence!
Therefore, it is essential to keep the plot moving.
I hope these suggestions help to spark your creativity and perhaps inspire you to try something new with your writing.
Would love to hear from fellow writers how you navigate your inciting incident and where you place it, first or later in your novel? What works for you?
Thanks for reading!