Inciting Incident vs Call To Adventure Resolved




At the time of writing, there is tremendous confusion about these terms and their differences, as shown by the examples here:

The State of Perfection Loop helps explain the difference between the Inciting Incident and Call to Adventure:

The Inciting Incident is the demonstration of the State of Imperfection. It is the trauma that needs to be resolved, the wrong that must be righted, the deficiency or problem that must be resolved, the inadequacy, the imbalance, the antagonism which must be restrained etc.

The Call to Adventure is the encouragement out of the Ordinary World. If you don't want to use the 2100+ stage Hero's Journey/Transformation/New World paradigm, then it is the encouragement out of the initial benchmark state.

In Star Wars (1977) , Vader attacks and kidnaps Leia. Classic iconography tells us who the bad guy is and who will be restrained. That's the Inciting Incident.

In Star Wars (1977) , Artoo presents Luke with Leia's hologram, which encourages him out of his Ordinary World (out of the farm to seek a Magical Gift, Ben Kenobi). That's the Call to Adventure.

The above is confused by a number of factors (in which case further explanation is required - see the 2100+ stage Hero's Journey/Transformation/New World at index.html ):

Where you start your story at the linear beginning, the State of Perfection. Where the move to imperfection is contracted or expanded in a number of ways.

Where the Ordinary World and Call to Adventure precede the Inciting Incident.

Where the Call to Adventure and Inciting Incident are illustrated in the same sequence.

There is A LOT more to both the Inciting Incident and Call to Adventure than you think.

Confusing The Inciting Incident With Other Triggers

The Inciting Incident is as described above.

As you work your way around the cycle, other pushes, pulls and triggers drive the movement forward. Each is defined by it's own term according to place along the cycle.

Each of these triggers has an "inciting" nature (stirs, encourages, motivates, prompts, urges, stimulates, propels etc). Writers and filmmakers often confuse these triggers with the Inciting Incident, because of this nature. However, these triggers are separate and distinct.

For example, the Call To Adventure "incites" encouragement out of the Ordinary World yet it is separate and distinct from the Inciting Incident.

These confusions are evident when writers say something like, "the inciting incident occurs 45 minutes into the story." They are simply identifying later pushes / pulls / triggers along the cycle which are separate and distinct.

No Inciting Incident

It is perfectly feasible for a story not to have an Inciting Incident.

Commonly, such stories will begin with a Deficient Ordinary World or State and there will be an implicit or explicit Call To Adventure out of it. Other pushes / pulls / triggers along the cycle (identified by their own separate and distinct terms) will lead to resolution.


This term is flawed. It is often used to describe both Inciting Incident and Call to Adventure and other pushes / pulls / triggers - the catalyst for each is of a different nature.

Read pdf file here.