For many years, I’ve been a seat-of-my-pants kind of fiction writer. Heck, I’ve even bragged about it, at times. You know the type of thing: “Oh, I prefer to be organic and let the muse speak to me. I couldn’t possibly be tied down to something as rigid and prosaic as an outline.”
Then I asked myself “How’s that workin’ out for you?”
And the answer?
Let’s just say there might have been some tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth, and maybe even a little fetal position crying. Not well, in other words.
But, as my beloved Nina would say, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me. And that means smartening up and having a plan. At least a little one. In my research into this new endeavor (before I got too far along on the current project), I found a most excellent tic-tac-toe plotting method, which C.J. Omolulu beautifully explains in her blog. With zeal, excitement, and determination, I sat down to make said grid, only to get stuck immediately. Because Box # 1 – the “inciting incident” – made me realize I didn’t have a clue what that was. At first, it seemed perfectly straightforward. I promise you – it’s not. I trawled the Internet for several hours, only to discover hundreds of other people equally as clueless as I. While movie/play examples abound, none of them were really applicable, and in some cases, the definitions/examples/etc. were flat-out wrong.
Then I discovered Les Edgerton’s blog post on inciting incidents. Hallelujah! I have seen the light! The man is a genius, for not only defining the inciting incident very clearly (The inciting incident is something that happens to the protagonist that creates and/or reveals the story problem to her), but also for so thoughfully analyzing others’ writing, and using an example that made beautiful, wonderful, writerly sense. Check it out. I bet you’ll be surprised. Or is it just me? Please share!