Inciting Incidents or the Disaster is the part of your story where the plot really gets started, like in Star Wars: Episode IV when the Storm Troopers killed Luke's aunt and uncle, forcing him to go on his journey on becoming a Jedi. It is a fundamental part of a novel. While at a conference a while back, I discovered there are a few more tricks to this important part of your novel than most people have pointed out.
So when does the inciting incident need to happen? Your inciting incident needs to happen as soon as possible in your story. Of course you need to establish your character's basic life and their goals, but you don't want to dwell on this too long before you get the story started. It is best to have your inciting incident come in within the first three chapters or the first 5,000-10,000 words. You can possibly have it come a bit sooner, but I wouldn't recommend any later than that.
The Four Basic Types of Inciting Incidents:
I have noticed that each inciting incident has one of these or a combination of two types of these inciting incidents.
1.) The Character Has a Choice - In the Hunger Games, the inciting incident is when Prim is picked at the Reaping and Katniss volunteers. Katniss had a choice whether or not she would speak up, but she chose to go into the Games, which is one reason I love her so much. I glass up at that part every time. Her choice is what started the story.
|This part gets me teary-eyed every time.|
2.) The Character Doesn't Have a Choice - On the other hand, in the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf warns Frodo of the coming of the Nazgul. Frodo had no choice but to flee or he'd be Nazgul bait. This is when the story started and Frodo had to go on the journey.
|Poor Frodo. He goes through so much.|
3.) The Character Causes the Incident - Sometimes the character himself will make the inciting incident happen. In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup gets the story started when he shoots down Toothless with his machine. Because he did that, he meets Toothless, and their friendship begins, thus starting the story.
|They're so cute. ^ ^|
4.) Outside Forces Cause the Incident - Then at other times, outside circumstances cause the story to start. In The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey, Gandalf, someone not the main character, volunteers Bilbo for the position as burglar for the dwarves and this gets the plot going.
|Right before the dwarves invade his house.|
|Attack on Titan battles are amazing.|
Do you have any more questions about inciting incident? What is the inciting incident in your story? If you don't write, what is an inciting incident you really enjoyed?
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