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how to find the inciting incident

Posted: Sep 29, 2008 1:05 pm
by Agathe

I'm trying to come up with the inciting incident in my story. Does anyone know how to use Dramatica for this purpose. wich terms in the storyform have a relation to the inciting incident (even if Dramatica don't use the term inciting incident) I already have a storyform I'm sure of and I also have a lot of material filled in.


Re: how to find the inciting incident

Posted: Sep 30, 2008 2:41 pm
by Chris Huntley
Excellent question.

The inciting incident, the event that kicks off the story, so to speak, is tied to the Story Driver in Dramatica. The Story Driver principally describes how things work in the Overall Story throughline -- the "Big Picture" or what is typically thought of as the plot part of the story.

The Story Driver asks whether Actions drive Decisions, or Decisions drive Actions. The Story Driver lets you set up, or identify, what drives the story: Actions or Decisions? The Story Driver is a plot dynamic. It establishes the causality in the story's world, and answers the question about "which came first...?" It is also consistent throughout the story, from beginning to end.

The Story Driver has five (5) primary instances in a story.

1. The Inciting Incident (or Inciting Event in Dramatica terms)
2. Act I to Act II turn
3. Act II to Act III turn (or the midpoint of Act II in traditional three-act structure)
4. Act III to Act IV turn (or the Act II to Act III in traditional three-act structure)
5. Closing Event (the event that wraps up the Climax)

If you have an Action driven story, all five instances of the Story Driver are actions that turn the story in new and different directions. The actions force decisions to be made in the story. (For example, Driver Event 1/ the Inciting event in the film, "Jaws," is the first shark attack. No initial shark attack--no story. Driver Events 2 & 3 are the Act turns caused by the two other major shark attacks, and Driver Event 4 is the point where the shark begins attacking the boat. Driver Event 5 is the Closing event where the shark is blown up.)

If you have a Decision driven story, all five instances of the Story Driver are decisions (or deliberations) that turn the story in new and different directions. The decisions force actions to be taken in the story. In The Godfather, for example, Don Corleone's decision to stay out of the drug trade causes the other mafia bosses to attempt to assassinate him, etc. Without that decision, the assassination attempt would not have been made.

Re: how to find the inciting incident

Posted: Oct 01, 2008 2:27 am
by Agathe
Thanks Chris

I'm already getting some ideas about the inciting event. I have decision as the driver.

What I'm trying to accomplish here is using my storyform more as a muse - but at the same time structural.

Knowing that my driver is Decision already gives me a lot of ideas.
But maybe I could find inspiration other places in the storyform as well?

If I understand it correct, the inciting event is tied to the Overall Story? Is that right? (Or should/could I use the other throughlines)
If the inciting event is tied to the overall story - then I assume that it is related to signpost 1 in the overall story? Mine is "Conceiving an Idea."
If so, my Inciting event could be a decision that has something to with conceiving an idea.

I know I'm mixing rules with musings now,
In the Comparison with dramatica and the other paradigms the incinting event is placed before any of the first signposts in the plot progression chart. This made me think that the inciting event at least had something to do with the term in one of the first signposts.

If I wander a little further I could blend the story goal into the mix and see what happens. Then my inciting event would be Conceiving an idea then making a decision that is related to a goal that has something to do with changing one's nature.

For example, (my english isn't too good)
A business manager has made an embezzlement in the company he works for - four years ago. He is going to retire in a couple of years but his secret has made him nervous and he feels so guilty about it that he tells it to a person he trusts - a woman in the company who is also his "right hand". At the same time he relieves himselfs of the secret he also tells the woman to not tell anyone - he just couldn't keep the secret for himself, he had to share it with someone. The woman says she will never even think of telling anyone and advice him to be the same boss he's always been - an a--hole.

The woman is my main Character and the older business manager is a character in the overall story.

Re: how to find the inciting incident

Posted: Nov 19, 2008 4:17 pm
by Chris Huntley
Hi Agathe --

Sorry it's taken me so long to get to your follow-up.

The inciting event may or may not be related thematically to what follows. That's up to you as an author. It doesn't matter where the inciting (driver) event comes from (structurally-speaking). It's just the event that upsets the story world and starts everything off.

Your business owner's decision to confide in his assistant/co-worker could work fine as an inciting event. Just make sure the actions that follow would not have happened without that decision (or deliberation). That's what makes it a Driver event.

Re: how to find the inciting incident

Posted: Aug 19, 2009 8:08 am
by Chris Huntley
I do not have a general preference. It depends on the story and the medium. If it is for a screenplay, then I try to make the inciting incident as visual (and non-verbal) as possible. It might be a big event, or a small event -- whichever seems appropriate for the story I'm telling. Big drivers tend to emphasize plot, and genre to a lesser extent. Smaller drivers allow for character or theme to come to the foreground.

For written mediums, such as novels, I would make decision drivers more internalized (maybe), but otherwise treat them more or less the same.

Re: how to find the inciting incident

Posted: Feb 15, 2010 12:54 pm
by Disel90
Hi, agathe

how u,

As concern me the starting moments of a play are most essential, I may begin a play more then hundred times awaiting I get it totally right. Because if I don't get you in those first few minutes, I've missing you, I want to get you rapidly. You see something, there's lot of more to drag you butt into that play. Once I'm dead assured of the opening moments, the rest is a lot simple.