When writers gather, the talk always centers on our shared issues. We don’t sit around and talk about the joys of being in the zone or the love of a request from agents or even a personal rejection…well, okay, we do that, too. However, we home in on what is kicking our butts in our current WIP. What I keep noticing is a common thread: forward momentum or the lack of it. Several blogs I’ve read in the last week have discussed difficulties with a WIP not so much stagnating as moving without really moving forward.
I recommend Hooked by Les Edgerton. I know I talk about this book a lot but honestly, it has taught me a lot. For one thing, I’m well versed in the inciting incident of a story. I teach it to my students, can identify it in a story I’m reading, etc. I knew that it is what hooks your reader pulling them in . What I didn’t think about until I read the book was that each scene has an inciting incident of its own. An incident that will propel the scene and the plot forward, illuminating things for both your protagonist and your reader.
After so many years of reading and writing, it was so simple and I couldn’t believe I’d missed it. Now, when I’m working on a new scene or rewriting a scene that isn’t working, the first thing I ask myself, “What is the inciting event here? What propels this part of the story and my character forward?” In my big picture plotting, this small scene event planning got completely overlooked.
Exercise: Instead of a traditional outline of your novel, make an outline of the scenes in your book by inciting event. If you’ve done your job well, you should see an acceleration of events building to that perfectly planned denouement. Let me know how it goes. I’m off to try it with my adult mystery. 🙂