Inciting Event

The Inciting Event of a story is the breaking point of your story. It is THE event that causes the story to move on and build tension through the rising action to the climax. For example, cops get a radio call to a murder investigation while on coffee and talking about their city’s crime rate. This event will typically upset the balance and incite the main character(s) unto their journey throughout the story.

There are three types of common inciting events:

  • Casual Inciting actions
  • Coincidental inciting actions
  • Ambiguous inciting actions

Casual

Casual inciting events occur when the main character consciously makes a decision to do a task. The inciting event in The Hobbit is when Frodo decides to take his uncle’s magical ring to Mordor and destroy it.

Coincidental

Summed up as the character being in the right place at the right time. For example, in the Spiderman universe, Peter Parker has already found his talent through accidental discovery and is wrestling. A thief runs by and Peter lets him pass instead of stopping him. Later the same man kills his uncle and Peter becomes a crime fighter to makeup for his lack of judgement.

Ambiguous

When the author creates dubious circumstance leaving the reader uncertain about the character’s willingness to undertake the task at hand we have an ambiguous inciting event. For example a man who believes in the law driven to murder to stop a person from his ultimate goal.

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