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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Would this be an okay Inciting Incident?

    Still trying to wrap my brain around an outline for my story.

    PLOT SUMMARY: Bowie is an 18-year-old college freshman, and the heir to the throne of his his uncle, the uber-conservative Mayor of his blue-collar, Irish-Catholic hometown. However, he has realized he's gay, which threatens his uncle's power and his ascendancy. Takes place in 1994. It's in third-person omniscient.

    CHAPTER 1: This actually takes place near the end of high school. It's at a banquet at an Elks Hall where Bowie wins a scholarship. We meet him, his uncle (powerful, Irish-Catholic), his aunt (maternal, but ruthlessly gossipy), his mother (super liberal, but super smug and aloof). It's established Bowie is uncomfortable around his peers but thrives when next to his uncle as it gives him power; his aunt and mother hate each other; and that he was undeserving to win the scholarship and only did so because of his uncle and aunt's corruption. And it ends with us realizing Bowie has some form of depression.

    CHAPTER 2: Bowie is at college (a nearby state school). He's having difficulties adjusting -- lonely, etc. He finally goes to a party with a few of his "friends" (it's a very awkward fit), gets drunk, brings a girl back to his room but can't perform. She leaves. He's whimpering and decides to go for a walk in town. There, he discovers a gay bar. And he reluctantly goes in, as he can't keep denying this secret he's been harboring.

    Would the end of Chapter 2 be the inciting incident? Some things I've read said it should be in the first chapter. The first chapter isn't all that long and introduces most of the main players and the theme (the quest for power vs. the quest of being true to yourself). It's not a prologue (trying to avoid that).

    Chapter 2 ends with the protagonist making a decision that changes his life and it sets the rest of the plot in action.

    For the rest of the first act, the plot was going to be carried by Bowie meeting a guy at the bar, finding himself as comfortable around him as he does in a position of political power, loses his virginity, with the final plot point deciding he's in love and accepts he's gay. There might be a chapter in there providing some more background about his hometown and family history (important to develop why his sexuality could ruin everything; sets up the rivalry between his mother and his aunt/uncle and gets into their motivations).

    The second act revolves around his mother and aunt/uncle each pulling him in different directions, and forcing him to make a choice between the two. It ends with that choice (closeting himself at the behest of his aunt/Uncle).

    The third act are the ramifications of that choice -- how his aunt gets to stand triumphant over his mom; Bowie climbs to the throne, but realizing his secret isn't going to stay quiet forever as he can't deny who he is.

    But does the end of Chapter 2 seem like an inciting incident to jump the plot?

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    It's in third-person omniscient.
    I had to respond to this for several reasons:

    First, omniscient is a hard viewpoint to pull off because readers are looking to experience the story in real time, as a character. It tends to distance the reader from the action, unless the author is very skilled in handling viewpoint. The second reason—and since I've not read your prose and can't make a judgement, I'm not commenting on you—fully 95% of new writers seem to confuse a narrator explaining the action and viewpoint. Be certain that you're knowledgeable on how to place the reader into the scene in real-time before you go for omniscient. Though I suspect that's good advice no matter the mode you choose for POV.

    As for the chapters you outlined, it's impossible to say without reading. Remember, your reader is a volunteer. As Sol Stein said, “A novel is like a car—it won’t go anywhere until you turn on the engine. The “engine” of both fiction and nonfiction is the point at which the reader makes the decision not to put the book down. The engine should start in the first three pages, the closer to the top of page one the better.”

    In practical terms, that means that if you don't replace curiosity with active interest, and do it quickly, your plot is irrelevant because no one will see it. Added to that, while you can visualize the scene the reader can't. And because the printed word can't reproduce either sound or vision, and is a serial medium, making the reader see the room as if it's a film is an impossible job, which means you need to narrow the focus down to what matters to the one the camera is focused on and present that.

    So as you decide on the opening scene, you have to ask yourself what is going to turn on that "engine" for your reader, and where it is. In addition, stories are, pretty universally, about things going wrong, and the struggle to set them right. So you need to know where, "Oh damn..." enters and who's saying it. I don't remember if I linked to this, but it might help explain what I mean.

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt
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    Chapter 2 seems too early to pop his cherry. You need more foreplay. For instance, maybe he just kisses the guy but then thinks, "I've made a terrible mistake!" and runs off before it goes too far yet afterwards he can't get it out of his head.

  4. #4
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    I'm not the best writer, so I'll leave all the technical points about PoV and where to start the story to the more experienced writers on here. But, I'm a little confused from your description.

    You say his uncle is a mayor, and that Bowie will inherit his throne. But mayorship isn't something that is inherited and mayors don't have a throne (unless you were using that metaphorically)

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    but realizing his secret isn't going to stay quiet forever as he can't deny who he is.
    Sexual orientation is something you have, not who you are. Inability to make that distinction was one reason homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder. Sorry, the themes are straight out the cliche line, especially in the gay context.

  6. #6
    Member Writers Choice's Avatar
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    My editor told me the biggest mistake a new writer makes is that he/she gives too much background story in the first chapter. She said it should be broken down a little at a time throughout your book. I only introduced three characters - two main, one minor - in the first chapter as not to overwhelm the readers with too many at once.

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