What's the inciting incident to your story?

What's the inciting incident to your story?

An inciting incident is an event that sets the plot of a book... it is also the topic of this page.

I am answering random questions today about world building, over on Reddit and decided to take my answers from there and expand upon them even further over here. So that's what this page is. Me rambling on about various aspects of world building techniques I use when writing the Quaraun series. The questions I am answering are embedded here. Clicking the link in the embedded question will take you to the original Reddit page where you can see the original answer along with other people's answers. If you wish to comment, you can do so on the Reddit page where a place to do so is provided.

Any ways, I found this question asking about inciting incidents, and what specifically the inciting incident of everyone's current story was. It got me wondering if I even have an inciting incident in any of my stories. You know me... grab a character and toss him into a portal, let it spit him out somewhere a random generator gave me on the fly, and run with it. That's how I write most of my novels and short stories.

I am almost tempted to go back into every story I've ever written to see if I can find the inciting incident of each one and figure out what exactly it is I do to come up with each inciting incident I've used in the past.


Well, because I've never in my life gone out of my way to sit down and ask: "Now what inciting incident should I use?"

It seems silly.

Of course, I've also never sat down and asked: "What plot should I use?" or "Should I write this theme or that theme?" In fact 90% of the questions newbie writers ask on Reddit and forums, leave me perplexed, baffled and confused as to why these so-called writers are incapable of thinking for themselves... I mean, they are supposed to be authors, right? And what do we authors do? We think of things to write.

Have you ever seen me ask a question on a forum... EVER?



Because, I'm a writer. I write. I don't run around second guessing myself or bumming story ideas off others. Which is why I can't understand questions like: "Should I write this story or that story?" Honey, if you don't have enough will power to decide for yourself what story to write, then you have no business being in this business.

But what does that have to do with inciting incidents you ask? Well, quite a lot. You see, as it turns out, most of the people who answered, answered to say, they needed help thinking of an inciting incident, instead of saying, "Hey, I'm writing this, and the inciting incident is..."

Many of them didn't know what an inciting incident was. 

An inciting incident is an event that sets the plot of a book. It's the thing that happens to cause your character to go: "OMG! I'm doing this..."

For example, the Quaraun series has lots of little inciting incidents in each novel, but the big inciting incident that pushes the entire series forward, is the death/suicide of Quaraun's lover. BoomFuzzy's death is the inciting incident that causes Quaraun to become a Necromancer, to try to resurrect his lover, and everything from that point on snowballs from there.

I'm working on two right now. (Both novels for a long run series that already has several novels published, so dealing with already established characters here. All 3 of them are none human wizards, 2 are drug addicts and the other is a drug dealer. All 3 are on the run as wizards in this setting are basically "the scum of the earth" in the minds of most people. And as you'll notice, they often meet up with cultists and demons, it's kind of an ongoing theme in the series, and happens in both of these 2 I'm working on now.)

In one: The City of The Slushies...

The series has 3 main characters, 1 primary (Quaraun) and his 2 companions (BoomFuzzy and GhoulSpawn). At the beginning if this story, two of them wake up in a frozen desert with no idea where they are or how they got there or where their other companion is. As portals are a thing in this series and portals are unstable and can appear anywhere and send you anywhere (different time, different place, different realm, even to a different galaxy), they assume they were sucked up by a portal and spit out here.

After a while they run across the only city in this vast desert and discover it's a group of Humans lead by a friendly squid-headed demon. They soon start to realize something is very wrong with the city as the people seem to exists without ever eating food and only drink slushies all the time.

The entire culture is built around a religion that worships slushies, with each sect/branch of the religion divided by what flavour slushie it worships. (People who worship cherry slushies, for example, wear red, live in red houses, grow red flowers, only have red furnishings, and completely shun every one who worships any other flavour. Lemon slushie worshipers have yellow, raspberry slushy worshipers have blue, etc.)

They really don't want to get involved in what appears to be a very radical cult, but they need to find their friend and find a way back home (and find out where they are and how they got there, so they can figure out how to get back home.)

The inciting incident in this story is very simply, the fact that the three wizards want to go home. They do not want to be in this city. They don't even know how they got in this city. But they are trapped here until they can figure out a way to get back home.

In the other: The Summoner of Darkness

The main character, once again, Quaraun, is pregnant but he (yes, he, as in a pregnant male) is hiding it from the 2 companions he's travelling with (again BoomFuzzy and this time also ZooLock).

Quaraun is hiding the pregnancy, partly because he's not sure he's not imagining it (he's a drug addict so he's used to having strange hallucinations, but as he's now coming to realize this is not a hallucination this time, he's trying to stay off drugs, to not hurt the baby, which is not easy for him.)

He's also trying to figure out how it happened, as in how in the hell did he get pregnant when it's not possible for males to be pregnant?

At the same time he doesn't realize that one of his traveling companions is not the person he thinks they are, that they are really a Demon and are in fact aware he's pregnant and are also a cult leader and planning a gathering of cultists to sacrifice his other companion, because it's a Lovecraftian based story and the cultists believe the baby is the Elder God about to be reborn. So basically, he has to fight cultists, defeat tentacle demons, and figure out how to deal with being pregnant when males shouldn't be able to be pregnant in the first place.

In this story the inciting incident is the pregnancy itself.

So basically the inciting incident of both stories is:

"What the hell? What? Why? How? And HOW?"

>In my world the image of what a person saw before their death is actually imprinted in their eyes so my MCs really, really need the body gone.

Have you looked into the history of the Jack the Ripper case? It was believed, in that era, that the last image you saw was on the victims eyes, and so the already mutilated victims were further mutilated by the detectives and doctors who did all sorts of experiments on the victims eyes and brains hoping to get a glimpse of what Jack the Ripper looked like.

I was researching Jack the Ripper for a college essay a years ago, and I had found a person who had all sorts of newspaper clippings from the era. The reporters were allowed in to autopsy rooms back then, so the newspaper reports were filled with all sorts of details about what the doctors did in their attempts to get the images of Jack the Ripper's face off the eyes of the women he'd murdered.

Before I had studied the Jack the Ripper murder cases, I had no idea that people actually believed the image on the eye ball thing. I had heard of it used in novels before, but I didn't realize it was an actual real belief.

It's something you might want to look into for research for your story.

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