On Writing, Plot & Structure

Bodacious Beginnings (Part 2)

June 14, 2012


In the last post, we introduced what Section 1 of your Novel needs to accomplish – including that somewhere in the early pages of Section 1,  you need to introduce the “What Starts It All” (also known as The Catalyst, or The Inciting Incident).

Here’s a handy chart that outlines key events in each of the four Sections of your novel:

(Click on the image for the full size version.)

In the Opening Scene(s), you’ve introduced the Hero in his Ordinary World (what’s normal for him).

The “What Starts It All” changes things for the hero. It introduces something new and unexpected. It sparks a turning point for the Hero. It turns story in a new direction.

Examples of “What Starts It Alls”:

  • Heroine accidentally crashes into someone’s car.
  • Heroine is fired from her job.
  • Hero receives a Dear John letter.
  • Hero finds a baby on his doorstep.


Cause and effect need to be in play here. Each of the incidents above needs to draw the Hero/Heroine into the world of the Story you wish to tell. So the baby on the Hero’s doorstep may lead him to look up an old lover. The heroine fired from her job may finally open that Sandwich Shop she’s dreamed about. The car into which the Heroine crashes might belong to Mr. Right, or to a crazed serial killer who then begins to stalk her mercilessly (depending on what kind of Story you want to write).

Next post: What you need to know about the Hero/Heroine’s “Okay, I’m In” Moment (also known as Plot Point 1, or the First Turning Point).

In the meantime, Happy Writing!


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