Writing Challenge: The Inciting Moment

by Deirdre McCluskey

On Wednesday we published a Harlequin Romance Glossary, with terms editors use when talking about romance novels. (If you haven’t read it yet, check it out.) One definition you might not have heard frequently is the inciting moment: “The scene or situation that throws your hero and heroine together and gets those sparks flying!”

The moment the hero and heroine meet isn’t necessarily the inciting moment, although it can be. But if the conflict is generic, the meeting doesn’t provide an imperative for the characters to act – hence, not inciting. Examples of generic, “could-be-anyone” conflict that we see frequently include a career-focused heroine who “doesn’t have time for romance” or a hero who was burned by his cheating ex and is soured on love forever. In these cases the author sometimes falls back on “insta-love” to explain the characters’ sudden about-face.

But what situation or person might compel your heroine to set out on a path she never intended? What is it about this particular hero that would make falling in love with him the worst thing that could happen to your heroine?

Your challenge this week: Show us your inciting moment in a short, 3-5 paragraph scene. It could be a first meeting, an accident, a revelation, or any occurrence that forces your hero or heroine to act and sets up the conflict that will drive the plot.

Post your scene in the comments anytime between now and Sunday, October 14, 2018, and we’ll check back with you on Monday!