Inciting Event Writing Exercise

Inciting Event How To: Writing Exercise

This writing exercise will help you create an inciting event for your novel. Along with your an inciting event we’ll map out your plot points too!

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This writing exercise will help you plan and write an inciting event for your novel or short story. If you don’t know what an inciting event is then check out my article: What To Do With Your Inciting Incident.

When you’re finished reading, come back here and start writing your own Inciting Event! Or, you may be ready to write your own inciting event today. If that’s you, let’s get started!

Inciting Event Writing Exercise Outcome:

Today you will write an inciting event for your short story or novel. By the end of this exercise you will have drafted an inciting event and the plot points of your story.

Inciting Event Writing Exercise:

Inciting Event- your character's normal life

To write an inciting event, you need to know the details of your character’s everyday life. In the boxes below, write about your character’s daily life: 

Inciting Events threaten your character’s “normal life” in some way. What are three things in your character’s life that they want to preserve/hold onto? In other words, what are the stakes of your story? 

In the box below, write the three most essential things in your characters life: : 

Disrupting your character’s normal life

The Inciting Event comes from outside and causes the hero to develop a goal and take action. Brainstorm events that would completely disrupt your hero’s everyday life and threaten what your hero wants to preserve. The event should be hard, if not impossible, to reverse. This event can be positive or negative. 

Example of a inciting event positive event: Charlie Bucket learns about Willy Wonka’s golden ticket contest.

Example of a negative event: Katniss Everdeen decides to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games. 

Writing character goals

Developing your character’s goals

Inciting Events cause your character to develop a goal- a plan of action to get what they want. Your hero will either want to return to their everyday life or improve their life in some way. 

Examples of a character goal: 

Charlie Bucket’s goal is to find a golden ticket so that he can visit the Wonka Chocolate factory. 

Katniss Everdeen’s goal is to survive the Hunger Games and return to her everyday life. 

Decide what your character’s goal is, and what achieving their goal will mean to them. For example a return to normal life or an improvement to their life.

Finish the sentence stem below:

Inciting Events set off your story’s central conflict. Your characters can’t reverse Inciting Events quickly. What actions will your character take, at first, to try and achieve their goal? How will those actions fail? 

Note: each failed action should logically lead to the next and every step taken should be progressively more drastic than the last. 

Finish the following sentence stems: 

Continue this pattern until you reach your story’s climax.

Read more about plotting your story here.

What's your story questions?

Inciting events should create a story question or a mystery that your reader will want to be answered. 

Examples of story questions

Will Katniss Everdeen survive the Hunger Games?

Will Charlie’s visit to the Wonka Chocolate factory improve his family’s life? 

Story questions can evolve throughout the story, but the primary dilemma or problem should stay the same. Charlie’s family is poor, and Katniss will have to kill or be killed to survive. 

Finish this sentence stem to create a story question: 

Pin it!

Writing exercise: Inciting event pin

By now not only should you have an inciting event, but a good outline and knowledge of where your story is going. Take what you’ve started here and cointinue drafting your story on your own!

Continue reading about inciting events:

Inciting Incident by H.R. Costa

Literary Inciting Incidents

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