The Inciting Incident and How it Sets the Stage for a Story

Writing a good opening to a story that immediately grabs readers can be tricky. Whether a writer’s story is plot or character driven, there must be an initial action that compels the reader to continue reading. This is called the "inciting action" or "inciting incident" and it's what propels the story forward. The first few pages are far from being a warm-up to the rest of the story. They need to launch the story and tell the reader what they’re getting into. Neil V. Young, author and technical writer, explains the importance of an inciting incident. “Most stories begin with the person in ‘the normal world,’” says Young. “The inciting incident is that incident that takes them from the normal world to the mainline of the story.” In Young’s mind, this is something that has to happen in every story and it needs to happen early on. He gives examples from popular fiction and from his own work, explaining how an author can use the inciting incident to springboard the protagonist into the rest of the story. Watch the clip below to learn more about how to create an inciting incident for your story!

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  • Im a bit new to this. So if I was to write a fictional story about a character who was immortal, he would start off as a natural human being in the beginning of the story? And if he was the main character, would I explain the basics about his life before I write the details about his presence?