An inciting incident is an event that compels your hero to act, forcing them to do something. It’s is a catalyst of events in a story. Before the inciting incident, your protagonist lives an ordinary or normal life. After the inciting incident, nothing is the same for your protagonist.
The inciting incident is very important in a story. If nothing happens to your hero, you don’t have a story. Your incident could be negative. For instance, the son of your hero died in a fatal accident. It could also be positive. For instance, your hero won EUR4 million in the lotto.
Inciting incident happens in two main ways: choice and accident. The protagonist might decide to move to a new house, buy five dogs, or adopt a child. All of these incidents will force the protagonist to take action.
If an inciting incident is not by choice, it can happen as an accident. The protagonist meets his old friend in a theatre. The fierce dog stands on protagonist’s way and refuses to leave.
No matter whether the incident happens by accident or choice, it should be included in the first quarter of the story. If the incident comes later than that, readers get bored and wonder when your tale is going to start.