Well, Ignatius doesn’t have a brain, so he isn’t really thinking. Actually, it’s just me thinking. It’s lonely for the writer whose skull has no brain . . .
While trawling the web last week, I found a post by Chuck on the Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog at Writer’s Digest. When asked for his best advice to writers, Chuck advised that it isn’t wise for you to Put All Your Eggs in One Basket.
I’ve decided that my next novel will not be A Winter’s Garden, but a different novel entirely with different characters set in a different world. I have a character who has popped into my mind, and I’ve started working out my character sketches and histories.
While all this background work is fun for me, the hardest part of starting a new novel is discovering that magical moment when everything in my protagonist’s life changes. It’s known as the inciting incident, and it can be the most critical part of your novel, because this is the initial hook that drags your reader into the story. I thought it might be fun this week to scout out some articles on what makes a great beginning for a novel.
THE INCITING INCIDENT
Before we start with the inciting incident, it’s always a good idea to review the art of story structure. Even if you’re familiar with story structure, it never hurts to check out Edittorrent’s structure primer where Theresa goes over some basic definitions and gives advice on the best place to start your story. Theresa also discusses the inciting incident in this post.
Along the same line, Warren Roberts runs a site called Screenwriting for Hollywood, but his advice on using the three-act structure is excellent for novelists as well.
Should your novel begin with a prologue? I prefer to forego the prologue and weave my back-story throughout the novel, but sometimes a prologue is perfectly acceptable and necessary. The hard part is determining when to use or leave out the prologue. If you’re in a prologue quandary, check out Therese Walsh’s articles: Once Before a Time: Prologues and Once Before a Time, Part 2.
If you’re looking for a brief peek into the inciting incident, check out Camy Tang’s post The Inciting Incident. Short, sweet, and to the point.
Ray Rhamey talks about Decisions and Desire, the Keys to a Powerful Plot where Ray says that “Robert McKee, in his book, Story, also says your protagonist must have a powerful desire. He must then attempt to satisfy it—that’s where a character’s decisions come into play and direct the plot.” I love this post, because Ray talks about the characters and how their decisions drive the plot forward.
If you want to dip your quill a bit deeper into the topic, Ray expands on the inciting incident with his post Your Inciting Incident – What, When, How on his blog Flogging the Quill. This is one you’ll want to print out to keep by your side while you’re working through that first chapter.
What is the difference between internal and external conflict and how does it affect your inciting incident? Aric Mitchell explains with Hook Readers with Solid Inciting Incident: Exposition is Your Basic Situation Plus Conflict.
Over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler, JoeNYC gives an In-Depth Look at the Inciting Incident with lots of examples.
MORE NIBBLES AND LINKS
Jane Friedman at Writers’ Digest has the Writers’ Digest Best Tweets for Writers from December 15, 2009. Great advice and posts all in one convenient place.
My good friend Andy Shackcloth is always busy gathering the best links for his Sunday Wash-up. Bookmark Andy’s page where you can find great articles and the best links that he can find on the Internet.
Over at Pimp My Novel, you’ll find news from the publishing industry, so check out The Dad Lunch Round-Up for news and links.
That’s it for this week, folks. Between the holidays and finishing the edits on An Autumn Tale, I’m going to be busy for the next couple of weeks. My blog posts will be sporadic, and this might be my last round of links until after the New Year.
I would like to take a moment and thank everyone who has read and supported the lunch hour links throughout the year. I would especially like to thank all the great writers who stop in and comment from time to time.
Regardless of your faith, be safe, be of good cheer, and be with your families.