An inciting incident is an event that sets off the main conflict or plot of a story. It’s often seen as the “trigger” for all of the action and drama to follow, and it should be written in such a way that it grabs readers’ attention from the very beginning.
But how do you go about writing an engaging inciting incident? Here are writing inciting incident tips for getting your story off to an exciting start with a strong inciting incident.
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7 Tips on Writing Inciting Incident
The inciting incident doesn’t have to be big or dramatic, but it should create suspense and draw readers’ attention into your main character’s world so they can follow along with their journey. A good inciting incident will make readers ask questions about what will happen next, piquing their curiosity as you move through your main plot points.
Below are 7 tips that you can use to craft an engaging inciting incident:
1. Establish Your Story Question Early On
Before introducing an inciting moment, establish a “story question” that hints at what could possibly happen later on in the narrative arc. This helps set up expectations for how your protagonist might react when something unexpected occurs—and then you can use this expectation to create tension by making sure they don’t get what they expect.
2. Make Sure The Inciting Incident Is Compelling
If an inciting incident isn’t compelling enough, it won’t keep readers hooked until its resolution at the end of your story’s climax. Try to think outside the box when coming up with ideas for effective incidents; some famous examples include Harry Potter receiving his invitation letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry or Neo being offered “the choice” between two pills in The Matrix movie franchise.
3. Focus On How Your Character Reacts To The Event
When writing an inciting incident, focus on how your character reacts rather than just describing what happens during it. Use this opportunity to show us who they are as people and give us insight into their thoughts/feelings about whatever is happening around them—this way we’ll care more deeply about them as individuals.
4. Keep It Simple and Focused on One Event or Character Arc Change.
The event should be limited to one character arc change or a single event that sets off a chain of events. This helps create tension and suspense as readers wait to see how this initial action will affect the story going forward. An example of an inciting incident that could lead to a dramatic change in the protagonist’s character arc is being presented with a job offer requiring relocation away from home.
5. Make Sure It Is Clear and Memorable for Readers.
An effective inciting incident needs to stand out so readers remember it long after they finish reading the book. To make sure your inciting incident stands out from other plot points, try using vivid language and imagery when describing it. This can help draw readers into the story more quickly by creating strong mental images of what’s happening in the scene. Additionally, ensure there are no confusing elements that could cause confusion about what’s actually happening during this pivotal moment in your story.
6. Use dialogue between characters.
Inciting incidents are not just physical events; they also need emotional weight behind them too. Use dialogue between characters (if applicable) as well as action sequences and setting descriptions to illustrate how your protagonist feels about what is happening during this critical moment in time – fear, excitement, anger? Whatever emotion(s) you choose should be clearly conveyed through these various elements so readers understand why this particular moment matters so much within the context of your story overall.
7. Ties with Main Conflict
Make sure the inciting incident ties directly to the main conflict of your story. It should feel like an important event that leads directly to the major turning point in your plot, rather than something that’s unrelated or tangential.
Bonus. Use Powerful Language
Use powerful language to convey the significance of the inciting incident. While you don’t want to go overboard with adjectives and adverbs, using descriptive words will help readers really feel the impact and importance of this event.
Final Notes on Writing Inciting Incident Tips
A strong inciting incident is a crucial part of any story, as it sets the stage for everything that follows. Create an engaging inciting incident that will set the scene and hook readers from the very beginning.
Efficiently and effectively introducing this event can make all the difference in whether or not readers continue to follow your story. By following these 7 tips, you can craft an inciting incident that will draw readers in and keep them coming back for more.