Literary Gem: “Inciting Incidents”
It’s a beautiful morning … The sun is out … Birds are chirping … Husbands hug wives; Moms kiss their kids … A perfect day. Then “BAM!” Flight 11 hits the World Trade Center—the first domino has fallen.
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Let’s say you’ve a written a story, but something seems missing. It could be the “Inciting Incident”—that first domino.
In “Hamlet,” a king is killed, starting a chain reaction that leaves Denmark in ruins—and a bunch of people dead. “Romeo & Juliet” ends even worst. Ah, that Shakespeare guy. What a writer.
But it’s not just the Bard who knew how to ruin somebody’s day.
In “Die Hard,” John McClane wants to reconcile with his wife. If Hans Gruber picks another building, John and Holly might reunite without incident. End of story.
How about “Star Wars”? If Darth Vader doesn’t stop Leia’s space cruiser, she delivers the Death Star plans without incident. End of story.
Want more examples?
• Bruce Wayne’s parents don’t get shot: No Batman.
• Bruce the shark goes to Brazil: No “Jaws.”
• Lucy, Edmond, Susan, and Peter never visit Narnia: No Lion. No Witch. No Wardrobe.
But wait, there’s more. What if …
• Harry Potter never learns he’s a wizard.
• The tornado doesn’t take Dorothy to Oz.
• Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth never meet: No Pride. No Prejudice. No nothin’…
So, writers, do yourself a favor: Ruin somebody’s day. Start a chain reaction by knocking down that first domino and let the others fall where they may.
Ker-plunk. Ker-Plunk. Ker-Plunk!