The Crucial Link Between Your Story’s Inciting Event and Climactic Moment by K.M. Weiland - Usa


We talk about story being an arc, but in many ways it is more of a circle. A well-constructed story is a seamless whole in which its two halves reflect each other. We see this clearly in classic story structure, and perhaps nowhere more crucially than in the link between a story’s Inciting Event and Climactic Moment.

I often talk about how the Inciting Event in the First Act and the Climactic Moment in the Third Act must bookend each other—or how the Inciting Event must ask a question that the Climactic Moment answers. A few weeks ago in a comment on the post “7 Considerations for Your Antagonist’s Motivations,” Leto asked:

Can you explain a bit more on how the Inciting Event asks a question that the Climactic Moment should be answering in the result of the battle/choice the protagonist makes in the Climax? I still have some issues picturing how the antagonistic force will be the glue that joins the Inciting Incident and the Climactic Moment together and I’d love to read more about this from you.

Structuring Your Novel

Structurally speaking, the Inciting Event is what fully initiates the story’s conflict, while the Climactic Moment is what fully resolves it. As such, they frame and define the entire story. Together, they create one of many resonant pairings within a story’s structure, in which the first half sets up and/or foreshadows what is then paid off in the second half.

When viewed like this, you can see how all the major beats are joined in important pairings. Not only do individual beats in the first half set up the beats directly following (e.g., the Inciting Event sets up the First Plot Point), they also set up their mate in the second half (e.g., the Inciting Event sets up the Climactic Moment and the First Plot Point sets up the Third Plot Point). This is also true on a thematic level, in which beats in the first half may symbolically foreshadow images and ideas that are echoed by their second-half partners.


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