Inciting Incident

Question: So, I read that to get a plot moving you have to make your character respond to the complicating incident or problem he/she is faced with... this is what I need to do, as I'm just finishing my introduction, and need to get my plot moving, except I'm not sure how to make my character realize he needs to act.....how do you do this well?


Answer: If your protagonist doesn't have a strong motive to respond to the inciting incident, you may have the wrong protagonist. Find or create a protagonist who will be compelled to respond to the inciting incident, who has an important personal stake in the outcome of the plot, or who sees pursuing the Goal as a way to resolve his most pressing personal issues.

Stories are generally about people whose lives are out of balance, who are dissatisfied or not at peace with their lives or situation. Hence, they are compelled to pursue solutions and goals. Your inciting incident must either offer your character an opportunity to pursue a goal or obtain a solution to a pre-existing problem, or it must create a problem that throws his life out of balance, so that he is compelled to take action. Either way, it's personal.

Of course, it could also be that you have the wrong inciting incident. You may need to revise the incident to turn it into one that personally affects your character and compells him to respond.

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