Finding the Right Inciting Incident

At the moment I have a main character, some supporting characters, and a theme. What I don’t have is a plot. I have character arcs, and I know how I want certain subplots to play out. The best I have is an inciting incident, so that I can explore what the main character’s life is like before that happens, and how she’s forced to live afterward. Finding the right inciting incident, then, seems to be more important than finding a solid three-act structure plot. At least it is for me, in the context of this story.

Finding the Right Inciting Incident

The truth is the the actual inciting incident happened to her before the novel begins. It’s what causes her to leave where she was and move to a new place. She needs to escape, and to start over. When the story begins it seems as if she might have a chance at doing that. The inciting incident within the novel shows her that what happened is likely to follow her around for a long time.

It screws around with structure a bit, but I stated before that I’m trying to break away from formulaic writing. My intent is to write something that leans more toward literary fiction as well. I’m a firm believer that structure can help carry the reader along, and also make things a bit easier for the writer. Hopefully I have enough of a grasp on the rules that I can competently break them.

Progress Report: Day 11

  • Today is day 11 of 90 on my journey to write the first draft of a novel.
  • Yesterday I wrote 213 words, bringing the total to 8,285. It’s not a lot, but I’m ahead and I needed to focus on other things for one day.
  • That puts me 2,285 words ahead of my target goal.
  • I’m currently working on the early scenes of the second act.


  • I’m having flow state issues. The way I have things set up right now, I touch every project every day. That’s fine in terms of checking in, building habits, and having visibility to what I’m doing. In practical terms it becomes interruptive. Instead of spending an hour on this and an hour on another project, it might behoove me to spend two hours on this today and two hours on something else tomorrow. We live, we learn we tweak. Life is an editing process.
  • At the same time, I’m having an existential crisis about my day job. This writing is supposed to give me a break from that writing, but when I’m down in the dumps about that writing, it still affects this writing.
  • My arthritis is also flaring up. Both hands feel like catcher’s mitts and my right hand hurts so badly that I wondered if I somehow broke bones in my sleep. This, of course, affects my ability to type.

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