1. Harper Saint Claire
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    Harper Saint Claire New Member

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    How Can I Organize my Plot if the Inciting Moment is at the Very Beginning

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Harper Saint Claire, Oct 17, 2014.

    The main character arriving in the setting is the inciting moment of the story. The story isn't necessarily told from her perspective (it's told in third person), but she is the main character. The only way for the reader to really understand that she's the main character is to be introduced to the story with her. This means that her being introduced to the setting has to be the first event that happens in the story. But, like I said, this is also the inciting event that starts the rising action. I don't want the rising action to start immediately when the story starts, I understand the importance of easing the reader in with the exposition. All of the events have to begin happening when the main character appears, so how can I still have an exposition? Can I combine the rising action and the exposition and get the reader and main character acclimated to the setting while small, subtle plot developing events are taking place, moving the plot along towards bigger, more obvious events?
     
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  2. jonahmann
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    jonahmann Active Member

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    You could have your exposition be implied or be explicit and use flashbacks.
     
  3. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    in some genres, like horror, suspense and thriller, it's supposed to be at the very beginning. But it shouldn't' be the most exciting thing in your story. You have indecent, introduction to the world, buildup, climax and end. (You'll noticed I skipped problem, but that because you introduced it in your opening.) You need a second incident.

    For example, a man is offered a fortune to stay in a haunted house for a week. Story opens, and he's already in the house, talking about the strange things that happened. Things need to get harder for him in real time. Then he re-decides to stay rather than go. That's your second incident.
     
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  4. Ohdontyaknow
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    Ohdontyaknow New Member

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    Could you start by introducing the setting before she arrives? Possibly plant a seed?
    But at the same time, it's not a bad thing to hit the audience right away. If you can hook them on page one, you're doing pretty well. Just be careful with how you structure the proverbial roller coaster.

    all the best....
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum. :D

    You want to start the story as late as possible. But it's hard to answer your question without knowing more generally what the plot is and how it unfolds. If you start with exposition, what will draw the reader in? If you start with the protagonist arriving on the scene, what makes the reader care about the character? There is no one way to organize a story. The key thing to to ask yourself those questions.

    I will tell you that as a new writer, I tried unsuccessfully to write my opening, moved on and wrote the story first. Then I decided what the perfect opening would be, wrote it, took it to my critique group, then ended up throwing out the first third of it, and now I'm happy with the beginning.

    Write the story, but as they say in business, "don't fall in love with your assets." What that means is don't become so enamored with any single part of your story that you can't throw it out. That allows you to write freely without writing perfectly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm wondering how you would do this, if you were sitting in front of a campfire with a bunch of friends, and they said 'tell us a story' ....and you decided to tell them your story. How would you start?

    Pretend you are doing this verbally, and I think you'll get your answer. I imagine there would be some lead-in, to the character AND the setting, before launching into the inciting incident.

    The problem with launching straight into an inciting incident at the start of your tale (although the problem can be overcome, with a bit of skill) is that the reader doesn't have a clue about anything yet. We don't know your character, the setting, anything. You have to do something to get us into the loop, otherwise we don't care. It doesn't have to be something elaborate, but something that connects with us, the readers.

    I've seen new writers begin in the middle of a fight or battle—or the middle of an argument. This can often be a mistake, because we don't care about the characters yet. The new writer might think 'action' is the best way to start, but without any framework, it's just a couple of people shouting at each other or whacking each other with swords.

    And then, once the battle, fight or argument is over, the action drops while you do backtracking to get us into the picture. So in a way you've let the reader down. Instead of building up tension and suspense, you've let it slip away. That's not always the best way to get and keep your readers on board.

    I know there are people who disagree with me on this, but I feel there is too much pressure on new writers at the moment to 'start your story as late as possible.' While that's good advice, it's often misunderstood to mean 'drop the reader in it.'

    I'm a big believer in starting a bit sooner, to ease the reader into the situation before the action starts. That doesn't mean boring infodump, by the way, or thousands of years of backstory. It means showing the scenario as it is normally, JUST before the changes start happening. That way you can introduce your POV character and get us into his head—and his world–before it all starts falling apart. Let us know what concerns him and what matters most to him. Then move in and threaten it, or take it away.

    That's the storytelling mode I enjoy, personally. Both to read and to write.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
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  7. LetaDarnell
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    LetaDarnell Member

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    Nothing wrong with starting at the beginning. Give readers a bit of who, what, where, why, how, and tell them the rest as the story goes.
     
  8. karmazon
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    karmazon Member

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    I found that a lot of people misunderstand what the inciting event is. It's an event that throws the protagonist's life out of whack. The rising action doesn't start until the character makes "no-going-back" decision to bring back the balance to her life. Therefore you have plenty of time between the inciting incident and her choice to show everything that needs to be shown about her and the world of the story.
     
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  9. LetaDarnell
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    LetaDarnell Member

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    I've stil seen stories start with the inciting incident. Usually its death (even sometimes the protagonist).

    Heck, someone wrote a GREAT short story about the Donner party with the inciting incident in the first sentence. 'We ate dad in silence'.
     
  10. karmazon
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    karmazon Member

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    That is correct.
     
  11. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    An inciting incident is not just something happened to the character, she has to choose to make something happen. If someone gets kidnapped in the first paragraph, it's an exciting incident that gets the story rolling, but I wouldn't call it an inciting incident.

    For example, the Hunger Games pretty much starts with a brief into and Katniss's sister getting called for tribute. However that's not the inciting incident. The inciting incident is when Katniss decides to offer herself in exchage for her sister. A choice was made, so that was the inciting incident.
     
  12. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ooooh, I like that. The hammer hits the nail head.
     
  13. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since when does an inciting incident need protagonist choice? I've never heard of that. In fact, I would call your example of kidnapping the inciting incident.

    If the character's arrival is the inciting incident, then I suggest a quick dash of exposition from her perspective before she gets there. Even if she's ignorant, you can tell us something interesting about her beforehand, especially because she's the gal we're going to be cheering for.
     

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