What exactly is the “inciting incident”?
The Inciting Incident is the turning point, about halfway through the First Act of your story; an event or decision, that sets your protagonist upon the journey of the story’s problem (often it’s the Call To Adventure). It is often immediately followed by a Refusal of the Call by your protagonist.
In Star Wars: A New Hope this would be the point where Luke stumbles upon the message Leia embedded in R2-D2: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”
A key point to the Inciting Incident/Call To Adventure, is that your protagonist will Refuse the Call! Give them a good reason to look at the Call To Adventure and say “Um, no thanks, not my cup of tea really.” This will give you the reason and motivation to move your protagonist into action in the First Plot Point.
Don’t confuse the inciting incident with the Hook or the First Plot Point though … they are definitely separate and have their own weights to carry in your story.
Next week I’ll be looking more into the First Plot Point and how it ties into the overall Rough Story Arc.