The Undeniable Impulse Writing Exercise

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Writing Exercise

What made me walk through that door?

Undeniable impulses push us forward in life. How many times have you thought, “I just have to …” go there, do that, see them.

Impulses are born of an instinct to do something.

In acting class, it was called the inciting incident. What makes the character do this right now? Why today?

That was the question we had to answer to justify taking the next action.

In writing it is the same. No character does anything that is not in his best self-interest. Now you may ask “what about a hero rushing in and doing something selfless?” I guarantee you it is still in the character’s self-interest; the view of himself as a hero spurring him forward.

With each character you write and each story you write you must know, “Why Today?” What starts the action in motion.

Here is an exercise I give in my class:


Write a paragraph starting with a knock on your door:

  1. You hear a knock
  2. You open the door and there is a package but nothing else.
  3. You open the package.


So our inciting incident begins with the knock, which triggers the actions that lead to opening the package.

What is inside the package makes you do something. A completely different reaction will occur and a completely different set of events will spring from what is inside.

It’s that simple. Have fun with this and feel free to share your results!

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