What is an ‘inciting incident’ in a story?

Q: I recently came across the term “inciting incident” in a book about fiction writing but no definition or example was given. What is the book talking about?

A: A vital part of any story is the opening lines, also known as the inciting incident. In this section of the story, we learn who the main character is, the central problem facing him, and a little about the setting.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.