Inciting Incidents

Donald Miller shared a writer’s tool with us at The STORYLINE CONFERENCE in Nashville last week: Inciting Incidents. Donald defines them as “an event that forces a character to get off the couch. When the cops knock on the door or the President calls and says that there’s a bomb threat, characters take action.” 

The good news: Inciting incidents happen in real life, too. The better news: your inciting incidents won’t happen by accident; you’ll create them yourself. In relationships, you might buy a ring or circle a date to renew your vows; in business, you might launch a new website, or get a new proposal to your boss.”

As I plunged into the homework for this section, I asked the question, “What would an inciting incident be that fulfills my AMBITIONS in my primary ROLES?” Three of my roles are FRIEND, SPIRITUAL BEING, and ARTIST.

So here’s my inciting incident! I’ve just planned two trips; one to Memphis in a few weeks and one to Upstate New York for my high school reunion as well as a private retreat at the Abbey of Genesee. But those trips aren’t my inciting incidents. I sent emails to churches in Memphis and Geneseo, NY asking if I might lead a workshop while I am visiting there on “BRIEF FAITH STORIES: WHEN GOD SPEAKS.” I’ve invited a few close friends to join me in developing this workshop for local churches here in Nashville, too.

This is my inciting incident: sending an email to churches offering to lead a group discussion on FAITH STORIES.

One thing I forgot to ask Donald: “Is it still an inciting incident if you buy that ring and the girl turns you down, or the boss buries your proposal? What if I offer to lead discussions at churches and everyone says, “thanks, but no thanks.

Is it still an Inciting Incident?

I’d welcome your feedback.



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INCITING INCIDENTS- (click here for MP3 file)