1. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Wounds and the Inciting Incident

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by John Calligan, Apr 6, 2019.

    Excluding “chosen one” stories, a huge number of MG and YA stories have the POV character causing their own inciting incident because of their wound.

    I dare you.

    I just want her to like me.

    How important do you think this element is in commercial fiction?

    How about for adults?
     
  2. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    Now that's what I call having agency!
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I don't really know your terminology. Is "wound" a character flaw, or...?

    In terms of creating the inciting incident, I think it's pretty common in fiction for the MC to at least contribute. The same stimuli could be applied to a number of people, but it's an inciting incident for the MC b/c of the way the MC reacts.
     
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  4. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    An inciting incident doesn't have to be caused by the MC (or a flaw in his/her character), but I think it's common for the inciting incident to highlight the flaw, to shine a light on how the MC has to grow/change/heal. For that matter, it can lead the MC, initially, in the wrong direction, making the flaw worse while building a false sense that (s)he is going in the right direction. One example: In Bruce Robert Coffin's (is that a great name for a crime writer or what!) new book, Beyond the Truth, the inciting incident--the fatal shooting of a teenager by a cop--is what the MC, Detective Sergeant John Byron, has to solve. But his battle is with alcohol addiction, which he thinks he can surmount by himself while still on the job. It isn't until the case goes south and his career is in jeopardy that he realizes that was a bad choice.
     
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  5. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I should have posted some definitions.

    The “wound” is the injury in their backstory that causes some of the flaws and desires.
     
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  6. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly as I thought.
     
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  7. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    I think the inciting incident should at least show the character wound or the character lie (or both). But I tend to try to get my in before the inciting incident with a careful planned "characteristic scene". That was people can understand immediately why my character reacted to the incident in the way that they did.
     
  8. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    Writing reflects meta level reality.

    If some youngster finds him/herself among some kind of adventure in real life, it is very common that they created their own inciting incidents. And they did it because of they flaws or wounds.

    Among "good" adults - in real life - it's more often shit happens -type development.

    Among very problematic adults it's a bit like among youngsters.

    I would focus more to what happens in real life in meta levels than what happens in literary markets.
     
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  9. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    There usually does have to be an answer to the question “why is this person being offered the opportunity for heroism?”

    Frodo gets his chance because he is a hobbit and his (uncle?) possessed the One Ring.

    Katnis Everdeen gets a chance because her sister is randomly selected to die.

    Kvothe Kingkiller gets a chance because his dad is telling the wrong sort of stories.

    Luke gets the chance because droids fall out of the sky. Coincidentally he is also a Skywalker, though he probably would have been called to adventure even were he not, his farm being destroyed and whatnot. Random thought: it sure is an odd coincidence that the only plans to the Death Star happened to land in his lap. Did R2 intentionally convince Luke’s family to buy him because he knew of the Obi Wan connection? #MindBlown

    All those generally align with random chance, but I can think of non-YA examples where the hero gets the opportunity more because of who they are or what they do.

    Kaladin Stormblessed is such a cool guy that he attracts an honorspren

    Eddard Stark is such a cool guy that the king wants to hire him, then he’s so honorable that he pokes his nose in the wrong places.

    Jack Reacher usually pokes his nose in the wrong peoples’ business.

    In detective / police procedural / law / medical / military fiction: the heroes choose to get involved in that as a career and draw an interesting case

    So I think we can come up with plenty of examples across YA and adult fiction of protagonists being involved, and not being involved. Personally I prefer when the hero is involved in it, because it provides a more satisfying answer to “why this person” than “he / she was someone’s son and got convinced by the wise old wizard.”
     
  10. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    I kind of like it when that the inciting incident 'happens' to the protagonist. I know it's an old cliche that 'protagonists react', but sometimes change comes, and sometimes a person isn't prepared for it. Yet it comes anyway, and seeing how a person chooses to deal with it shows the depth of their character.
     
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