Chapter 3 of Hooked has me, well, hooked. Not only because he references Janet Burroway’s book, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, which is one of my favorite writing books, but because it has highlighted strengths in my plot as well as areas of weakness. (By the way, Burroway’s book is in my top ten, but I digress.) In this chapter, Les lights on the inciting incident and here is where my YA novel begins to make sense to me. Silly since it should make sense to the writer all along, huh?
The inciting incident is the “crucial event” that sets everything else in motion. This event “triggers the initial surface problem and starts to slowly expose the protagonist’s story-worthy problem”(55). Ginny is rudely awakened in the night by her father and placed in a panic room that he built after a rash of kidnappings in their area. Les points out that the protagonist may be somewhat in the dark during this period as to why these events are happening, but as events unfold she will begin to understand more and more. Ginny eventually realizes that she wasn’t adopted as she’d been led to believe but was genetically engineered. This surface problem needs to be compelling enough to cause her to take immediate action. For Ginny, her insecurity over where her parents have disappeared to and a realization that she doesn’t know who to trust, sends her fleeing in the night.
Les points out that it’s important to keep in mind that “…any attempts to resolve the initial and subsequent surface problems must end in failure”(55). Ginny runs right into the arms of the Program, finding herself held captive in a compound full of freaks. Worse yet, the mad scientist who designed her and his army of genetic mutants thwart all her efforts to leave.
My book isn’t where I want it yet, but I’m feeling good about the story arc. I’m excited to fix any plot pieces that aren’t working as I read through this ongoing lesson on “hooking” the reader.
Hooked is a fantastic journey in revision.