Thursday, February 17, 2011

Outlining With Robert Pattinson: The Inciting Incident

Last week, I discussed the Setup of your story. Today I'll tackle what comes next:


a.k.a. My favorite part to write *fist pump*

This is when you make things difficult for your main character. You throw him/her a curveball by forcing them to face a problem they must solve throughout the entire novel. Whenever I sit down to brainstorm possible inciting incidents, I ask myself this question: what makes my main character uncomfortable? What would totally freak them out and send them crying to their mommy? What would make readers stick around to find out if he/she beat his/her biggest fear?

There's also genre to think about. Is your story a mystery/sci-fi/contemporary? Genre will have an influence in the type of problem your MC will have to solve, as well as how he/she solves it (unfortunately, you can't have someone shoot laser beams out of their eyes in a contemporary... *pouts*). But to me, a great inciting incident does two things:

1) Propel the story forward in a new direction 

2) Boost your main character's internal conflict with an external one

Sure, #2 gets developed along the way with other parts of the story (which I'll discuss in later weeks), but you get the idea. Basically, during the inciting incident, your main character walks around with a pissy face because you pretty much ruined their life. Like this:

"Really, Inciting Incident? Really??? I HATE YOU!"--direct quote from your WIP.

There you have it, folks. The Inciting Incident makes Robert Pattinson very. Angry.

Stay tuned for next week's post: the Turning Points.

Now tell me: do you come up with the Inciting Incident as you go? Or is it the first thing you think of when brainstorming ideas for a new WIP?


  1. Hahaha. I love the direct quote from the WIP. Great post!

  2. We won't discuss the project I'm querying since the original first chapter was deleted and chapter two (which was completely rewritten) became the new chapter one. ;)

    With my new project. The beginning came to me before I started outlining the book. Everything fell into place after that.

  3. Oh, Inciting Incident. How I love thee.

    I don't think it's the first thing that I think about, but it's definitely one of the first. During the first draft, I don't put much thought into the structure of Act I (which is why this part gets rewritten a million times), except for the inciting incident.

  4. I tend to throw my characters in at the deep end asap and then see how they get themselves out of the mess they've (well ok, I've) created!!! Oh the power!! Take care

  5. Wait a did you get a hold of my WIP? :)

  6. This post had me giggling throughout and I actually burst out laughing and scared half the people in my dorm because of the Robert Pattinson picture.