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Paula Wynne

Pinned 2 years 7 months ago onto Writing Advice

When Is The Inciting Incident In A Story Plot


Ever get confused about Plot Points and the Inciting Incident? Or understanding when the problem of the story starts sets an author straight.

For new writers or writing flying by the seat of the pants (Pantser versus Plotter) plot points are difficult to pick out, especially when there is confusion as to the purpose of such a device in a story. If one accepts the idea that stories are about solving problems, the reason for Inciting Incidents and Act Turns becomes all too clear.

Every problem has its own genesis, a moment at which the balance is tipped and the previous sense of oneness is lost. With separation comes the awareness of an inequity, and a desire to return back to a state of parity. Every problem has a solution, and a story explores that process of trying to attain resolution.

In a story, this Opening Event—or beginning of a story—is commonly referred to as the Inciting Incident.

The Exciting Incident > The Inciting Incident (or “exciting incident” as someone once referred to it) is the event or decision that begins a story’s problem. Everything up and until that moment is Backstory; everything after is “the story.” Before this moment there is an equilibrium, a relative peace that the characters in a story have grown accustomed to. This incisive moment, or plot point occurs and upsets the balance of things. Suddenly there is a problem to be solved.

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