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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Thoughts on screenplay with no Inciting Incident Moderators: George Willson
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LuisAnthony
Posted: July 22nd, 2017, 2:43am Report to Moderator
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Need opinions desperately!!

Okay. So I'm writing a new coming of age, high school film and it has your typical John Hughes tropes. I'm working on adding a new twist on the genre, I just really wanted to write one of these because I'm in this head space at the moment.

However, this movie has no inciting incident!! We all know the proper story structure, the importance of following this structure is reverberated in every screenwriting blog. The inciting incident is obviously essential for setting the story in motion.

That being said, this movie is about how the boy grows in high school and it is conveyed through my own experience in high school. It's really just a movie about ups and downs.

I'm almost done with it and before I dive into the full on revising extravaganza I wanted to know your opinion. Should this script absolutely have the inciting incident? What is your opinion on films that don't have one. (Boyhood is a similar movie about a character's life and It doesn't have an inciting incident)

Also, when do you think it's appropriate to break structure rules such as these?

I hope you guys can give this thread a look, it is a scorning question!
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Tyler King
Posted: July 22nd, 2017, 3:02am Report to Moderator
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In my opinion, as long as you have a solid story/plot, I say just write, as long as you are happy with. And to be honest, until just recently, I didn't even know about this certain story structure that most screenwriters follow... But... Like I said, if you have a good enough story/plot, the rest kind of speaks for itself. Just write what you want, and see how things turn out. That's usually what I do. You can always go back and add to it later.
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LuisAnthony
Posted: July 22nd, 2017, 3:06am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Tyler King
In my opinion, as long as you have a solid story/plot, I say just write, as long as you are happy with. And to be honest, until just recently, I didn't even know about this certain story structure that most screenwriters follow... But... Like I said, if you have a good enough story/plot, the rest kind of speaks for itself. Just write what you want, and see how things turn out. That's usually what I do. You can always go back and add to it later.


Thanks for the fast reply to my thread!! Yeah, part of me is thinking I should write what I feel is right, but I would kick myself if I didn't come in here and ask for opinions. Anyway, thank you for yours!!

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Anon
Posted: July 22nd, 2017, 5:27am Report to Moderator
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Adolocence was a pretty inciting incident for me!
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leitskev
Posted: July 22nd, 2017, 7:26am Report to Moderator
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I've seen movies where the inciting incident occurs before the movie begins. Something has recently happened which spins the main character's life in a new direction, and we pick up the story with that action already underway.

If you're writing a story about your own life, there is not really a beginning and end point. But it might be helpful to create one by choosing a particular moment in your life. In this case, it's high school, but I don't mean just a moment in time. I mean choose a narrative moment. So you get to high school, and you have to learn how to cope. It's a time of learning about yourself, growing...change.

Maybe begin with the end of the narrative when plotting it. For example, maybe there is a point where it finally all comes together and you realize xyz. When that happens, you solve problem abc. Then you reason backwards to an inciting incident: what event set things in motion towards you realizing you needed to change.

For example, maybe the problem is you've outgrown your old friends. You realize this at the end. Reasoning backward, there is an incident near the beginning where your old grammar school buddies get you in deep trouble, spinning things in motion towards where you realize you need new friends.
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George Willson
Posted: July 22nd, 2017, 8:47am Report to Moderator
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What you're describing sounds like a sort of "anecdote film" where there might be an overarching plot, but it isn't a true 3 act story. One of the most famous of these is A Christmas Story. The movie consists of little more than Ralphie's experiences as he approaches Christmas. The only real overarching "plot" is his desire for a Red Ryder BB Gun. As long as the anecdotes are entertaining enough and keep us wanting more, it works. Life stories are dreadfully dangerous to write, though, from a dramatic perspective because life isn't often very dramatic. We have dramatic moments, but we rarely achieve some high drama that people will pay to see it.

However, if you're the type of person who can make the mundane interesting and pull of a highly entertaining anecdotal film, them go for it. People want entertainment. They don't care how it is structured. The structure model is a tool to help get to the other side when you have to do something.


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leitskev
Posted: July 22nd, 2017, 9:18am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from George Willson
The structure model is a tool to help get to the other side when you have to do something.


Exactly.
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eldave1
Posted: July 22nd, 2017, 10:06am Report to Moderator
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My humble opinion only:

One is not required. Here is a pretty good article on the topic.

http://www.scriptmag.com/features/inciting-incident-needs-page-10


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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LuisAnthony
Posted: July 23rd, 2017, 5:16pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Anon
Adolocence was a pretty inciting incident for me!


Yup!! That's very much the case!! For both myself and the character! Lol

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LuisAnthony
Posted: July 23rd, 2017, 5:18pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from leitskev



For example, maybe the problem is you've outgrown your old friends. You realize this at the end. Reasoning backward, there is an incident near the beginning where your old grammar school buddies get you in deep trouble, spinning things in motion towards where you realize you need new friends.


This made me think. Thank you for the detailed response, very greatly appreciated!

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LuisAnthony
Posted: July 23rd, 2017, 5:20pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from George Willson
What you're describing sounds like a sort of "anecdote film" where there might be an overarching plot, but it isn't a true 3 act story. One of the most famous of these is A Christmas Story. The movie consists of little more than Ralphie's experiences as he approaches Christmas. The only real overarching "plot" is his desire for a Red Ryder BB Gun. As long as the anecdotes are entertaining enough and keep us wanting more, it works. Life stories are dreadfully dangerous to write, though, from a dramatic perspective because life isn't often very dramatic. We have dramatic moments, but we rarely achieve some high drama that people will pay to see it.

However, if you're the type of person who can make the mundane interesting and pull of a highly entertaining anecdotal film, them go for it. People want entertainment. They don't care how it is structured. The structure model is a tool to help get to the other side when you have to do something.


A Christmas Story is a great one!! That bit in which you talked about making a mundane life interesting really got to me, because in reality, that's what I'm trying to do. Thanks for the inspiration!

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LuisAnthony
Posted: July 23rd, 2017, 5:22pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from eldave1
My humble opinion only:

One is not required. Here is a pretty good article on the topic.

http://www.scriptmag.com/features/inciting-incident-needs-page-10


And now this article is bookmarked.

Thanks for the link, some great stuff.

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ReaperCreeper
Posted: July 25th, 2017, 2:43pm Report to Moderator
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Story structure in general is overrated IMO. I often find that stories take on a life of their own as they are written, with their own natural ups and downs. This isn't to mean that you shouldn't outline, necessarily, just that you don't need to box yourself into the old precepts.

If being conscious of structure helps you in developing your writing, by all means stick to it. If it doesn't, ditch it. If you're a good writer and don't give up on the story, the story will take its own form. As long as it entertains, you're golden.
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eldave1
Posted: July 26th, 2017, 9:58am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from ReaperCreeper
Story structure in general is overrated IMO. I often find that stories take on a life of their own as they are written, with their own natural ups and downs. This isn't to mean that you shouldn't outline, necessarily, just that you don't need to box yourself into the old precepts.

If being conscious of structure helps you in developing your writing, by all means stick to it. If it doesn't, ditch it. If you're a good writer and don't give up on the story, the story will take its own form. As long as it entertains, you're golden.


I concur - and a lot of structure is stuff to sell books and seminars. For me, stories have a beginning a middle and an end. Everything else is kind of made up. e.g. inciting incident is just a fancy way of saying "Why"?


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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leitskev
Posted: July 26th, 2017, 10:35am Report to Moderator
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I think structure is crucial. But there is no such thing as one single structure that everything needs to fit.

Blake Snyder says the inciting incident needs to be on page 10. He's exaggerating a point to sell a book. But he's also saying, from experience, that many amateur scripts fail because they take too long to get to the meat of the story.

In Rocky, the inciting incident is about half hour into the movie! That's when Apollo Creed draws a random name from some list of fighters. He chooses Rocky because he can promote the name Italian Stallion. This random event gives Rocky one shot to change his life.

Why does it come so let in the film?

Stories most conform to their own logic. Rocky is about a down and out boxer who gets one shot at redemption. It's critical that we CARE about Rocky's shot at redemption, so the story carefully sets up two things: Rocky really is down and out, and Rocky is a good guy. It takes time to set all that up. About 30 minutes of it.

But this is a problem. A story that wanders through 30 minutes of set up is a bad idea. It will lose the audience without any kind of narrative stakes.

But Stallone had a solution: the mini-love story. So the first half hour is built around the wooing of Adrienne. Around that is sandwiched little scenes that show Rocky is down and out, and that he's a good guy.

I read one of the gurus explaining that Rocky is really a love story, not a boxing story. This is what results from gurus always trying to make every story fit the commonly accepted model. Because Rocky is not a love story. How do we know? Because after the scene where Rocky and Adrienne hook up, which is near the end of the first act, they become a couple, and nothing challenges that. The love story is over.

So structure is crucial, but structure serves you and the story, not the other way around. In Rocky, Stallone wanted a long set up so he could make us really care about his character. In order to have the space to do that, he built in a mini-story, a love narrative.
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