Writing Your Memoir: You Can Sit with the Muses

background-313552_1280An inciting incident must be gripping. The scene is a distinct before and after moment in the hero’s life. Before Cady Heron from the movie Mean Girls is invited to sit with Regina George, she is a homeschooled outsider. The invitation changes everything. Cady goes from being a ghost to being one of the most popular girls at the school. A writer must describe the normal before the incident to show how the singular moment altered the protagonist’s life. After a Muse altered their destiny through a person or circumstance, the recipient has to stay the course of their fate. Cady cannot go back to being under the radar and must flow with the change. Inspiration always alters a person’s habits and approach to life in a memoir or fiction piece.

Sit back and enjoy the ride

Please note that the inciting incident is passive. The event happens to the protagonist. Cady could not have sat at the Plastics table of her own accord; the Queen Bee had to invite her. This particular teen was worshipped around the high school like a goddess. Somewhat in the same vein, Ancient Greeks started the notion of Muses providing the necessary inspiration to the seeker. Muses happen to the artist and no matter how arduous the chases. Revelations are out of everyone’s hands much like traffic and the weather.

Before and after

A catalyst is a person or event that incites the hero to take action and begins the story. Fully describing life pre-inspiration gives a glimpse into what the hero’s life – environment, friends, and perceptions – was like before the instigation. A reader must be hooked right away within the first five pages, or the hero’s journey will not be followed. Inciting incidents can go back years, months, or seconds. Laws of time or space do not hold down their impact.

Application

If you are having trouble narrowing an inciting incident think of a clear before and after moment in your life. Consider an event or person that changed the course of your life. The first thing that pops into your hand, unexpected or obvious, is the correct inciting incident.

Writing exercise

Once you are aware of the inciting incident, start describing your life before the Muses blessed you with inspiration. What did you feel, think, and believe before the catalyst happened to you? Write it all down. Next, describe the moment of inspiration in a stream of consciousness. Finally, detail how you were changed and how it altered to life via other significant events or people.

Takeaway

This is the first step in writing your personal or professional memoir.

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