Creating the perfect “inciting incident”

When I’ve finished reading Les Edgerton’s HOOKED: WRITE FICTION THAT GRABS READERS AT PAGE ONE AND NEVER LETS THEM GO, I plan on writing a review – a stellar review – because I’m completely taken with his pin-point logic, instruction and examples. I’m about halfway through so you’ll have to hold your breath.

But in the meantime, I’ve begun incorporating Edgerton’s advice in my own process.

I’m currently revising a very rough draft of one of my MG novels. I’m back on those first few pages and first scenes – always the toughest for me – trying to get them just right.

Yesterday I focused on clearly defining what Edgerton calls the “inciting incident.” He describes it as “the event that creates the character’s initial surface problem and introduces the first inklings of the story-worth problem.” Essentially, it’s where the real story begins.

Thankfully, early in my revision process, I spent some time crystallizing my story into one sentence – an exercise I recommend to every novel writer. That sentence beats in my brain as a constant reminder of the heart of my story as I rewrite. But it also revealed a buried treasure. Because there in that 15-word sentence lies the inciting incident. Hurray!

Problem: In my draft I had broken up that incident into two scenes separated by a few other surface problems. Consequently my inciting incident lost the power it could have to really get the ball rolling in my story. I needed to clarify it, rev it up and spend more time with it early on.

How will I accomplish that? I’ll couple the two separated scenes into one in my opening chapters and rearrange those other surface problems – which really have nothing to do with the inciting incident – by moving them to later chapters. Then I’ll work on energizing that opening scene with more humor and higher stakes for my MC.

When I’m done that scene should shout from the pages “THE STORY STARTS NOW!”
And hopefully my reader will be hooked. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

All the SOUL You Need!

SOUL ENCHILADA is on the shelves!!!

  • The Book – Have a look, then buy it now!
  • The Author – David Macinnis Gill – my awesome critique buddy!

My Favorite “Bug” Guide!

With the upcoming (we’re talking minutes folks!) release of David Macinnis Gill’s SOUL ENCHILADA, don’t miss this fab reading guide.

You’re Gonna Love this Bug!

Gas up the car and get ready to roll to your favorite Indie because David Macinnis Gill’s (my crit buddy) SOUL ENCHILADA is hitting the stores on 4/7!!

I LOVE this book. But don’t take my word for it.
Here’s what folks in the know have to say:

An “action-packed, power-punch of a debut” –Kirkus (starred)

“Delightfully wacky” –Horn Book

“Gill knows what will make teens laugh” –Publishers Weekly

“Bug is a refreshingly gutsy female protagonist…that will win over
readers.” –Booklist

“A powerful voice of young adult literature” –Chris Crutcher

“Wonderful and unexpectedly touching…” –Melissa Marr

“Tasty” –Teri Lesesne

“Warm, funny, and full of grace….Highly recommended.” –Greg Leitich Smith

Hanging with the Stars in NYC

Last week I spent 4 crazy-busy but completely fun days in New York with my husband and kids for Spring Break. Yup, we’re weird that way. We don’t often rocket south like heat seeking missiles this time of year. And having lived in the Big Apple in my long ago past, I still consider East 46th Street one of my beloved homes. So it was wonderful going “home” again.

Of course, we visited the Belmont as well as other favorite haunts, and took in an eclectic trio of shows. But I also budgeted time for two “business” stops.

The first was for coffee with one of my editors, Michelle Nagler. Rather than meeting at one of the ten bazillion Starbucks dotted around the city, we chose to visit in her office among her shelves and shelves of children’s books. As a matter of fact, every angled wall in that editorial division was filled floor to ceiling with books. It seemed fitting that the famous, funky Flatiron building housed this creative commune called Bloomsbury.

And for an hour, we talked about my books, her books, funny books, award-winning books, best sellers, illustrators, art – pulling examples from the shelves as we discussed, oohing and aahing over color schemes, word choice, diorama art, perfect titles. She mentioned a bit of happy news – TOO PURPLEY! will also be released in the U.K. Hurrah! And I even got a peek at her slush pile. Sigh! We both agreed, we could have chatted all day.

My second “business” stop was at none other than the Children’s Center at the 42nd Street New York Public Library. Nostalgia flooded me as this was my first child’s very first library – not to mention his favorite from Ghost Buster fame. I stopped there to soak it all in once again, but also to meet that blogging rock star librarian from Fuse #8 – the kid lit guru Elizabeth Bird.

The Children’s Center buzzed — toddlers on computers, babies teething on board books, school age kids combing the shelves, parents chatting and reading and enjoying this warm, rainbowed refuge on that misty New York day. And wouldn’t you know it, Elizabeth was sitting right there at the front door as if to eyeball each little entering patron and pair him/her with a perfect book match.

Even though I tried to bribe her with Dylan’s candy and threatened to rearrange her Dewey Decimal System, she wouldn’t reveal the contenders in her Top 100 Picture Book Poll. She only hinted at a few surprises. NYPL is certainly lucky to have Elizabeth in their kid’s court.

So in addition to chance meetings with The Take Home Chef and Ed Norton (no kidding) I got to meet these two lovely literary stars. And both further affirmed that the folks in children’s publishing and children’s literature are among the kindest in the world. I can’t wait to go back.

All materials © 2020 Jean Reidy. Author website by Websy Daisy. Shelly the Turtle designed by Genevieve Leloup.