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Friday, June 15, 2007

Plot – inciting incidents

Your plot should have a definite inciting incident that signals when the story begins.

In Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the inciting incident is when Mr. Bingley moves into the neighborhood.

In Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins, the inciting incident is when the heroine discovers a dead body in her outdoor hot tub.

In The Restorer by Sharon Hinck, the inciting incident is when the heroine is suddenly transported into an alternate fantasy world.

In Over Her Head by Shelley Bates, the inciting incident is when the heroine discovers the body of a drowned young girl the same age as her own daughter.

In Split Ends by Kristin Billerbeck, the inciting incident is when the heroine moves to Los Angeles to become a successful hairdresser.

In The Reliance by M.L. Tyndall, the inciting incident is when the church is blown up and the hero believes his wife was killed, when in reality she’s been kidnapped by pirates.

In each of the above examples, something has happened to change the protagonist’s normal world, and that’s where the story begins. The inciting incidents all occur in the first chapter or two.

What is your story’s inciting incident? Does it occur early in the story, or do you have several chapters showing the protagonist’s normal world?

Cut the backstory and get to the inciting incident quickly. Keeping the backstory a mystery will also keep the reader’s interest, because they’ll keep reading to figure out what’s going on.

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