splash tom hanks daryl hannah ron howard

Splash

Movie: Directed by Ron Howard. Inciting Event: Allen’s girlfriend leaves him because he doesn’t love her. Believing something is wrong with him, due to his perceived inability to love, he goes to Cape Cod, where he has always “felt good,” due to a childhood incident in which he was rescued by a mermaid (but which […]

Music and Lyrics

Music & Lyrics

Movie: Directed by Marc Lawrence. Inciting Event: Alex receives an offer from Cora to writing her new hit song. Unfortunately Alex has never been able to write lyrics for his music. He has no chance to satisfy Cora and get the job. First Plot Point: Alex plays Sophie’s casual rhyme on the piano and shows […]

Validation

Validation

Inciting Event: A line of depressed people bring their parking stubs in for validation and get more than they bargained for when the parking attendant validates not only their parking, but also them as people, making them smile like never before. First Plot Point: The business complex’s security team comes in to correct the problem […]

the mirror has two faces barbra streisand jeff bridges

The Mirror Has Two Faces

Inciting Event: Traumatized by a bad romance, Professor Gregory Larkin posts a personal ad stating that “physical appearance” is “not important.” Rose’s sister (who is already dissatisfied with her handsome new husband) answers the phone in response to the ad and passes the contact info on to her. First Plot Point: Rose marries Gregory, despite […]

White Christmas Bing Crosby Danny Kaye Vera Ellen Rosemary Clooney

White Christmas

Inciting Event: After Phil’s rant that his singing partner Bob is a “miserable, lonely, unhappy man” because he hasn’t got the “most important thing—a girl,” Bob reveals he’s agreed to audition a sister act for the sake of an old Army buddy, Benny Haynes, the dog-faced boy. I love this movie. I watch it every […]

cinderella lily james kenneth branagh

Cinderella (2015)

Inciting Event: Ella’s father decides to take his one last chance at happiness and remarry. But when his new wife, Lady Tremaine, arrives with her immature daughters, it becomes clear she’s anything but a good replacement for Ella’s own beloved mother. Ella’s relationship with her stepmother drives this story far more than her relationship with […]

Dear John Channing Tatum Amanda Seyfried

Dear John

Inciting Event: Here’s another example of a story that pretty much begins with its Inciting Event right off the bat (after a brief flashforward prologue), without allowing for any setup of the characters or their situations. However, unlike Princess Mononoke, it doesn’t work nearly as well here—and for that very reason: it doesn’t allow any […]

Ever After A Cinderella Story Drew Barrymore Anjelica Huston Dougray Scott

Ever After

Inciting Event: Danielle discovers Prince Henry stealing her father’s horse, and she attacks him (not yet realizing who he is) by throwing apples at him and knocking him to the ground. When he reveals his identity, she lets him have the horse and he pays her twenty gold francs for her silence. Obviously, in a […]

New in Town Renee Zellwegger Harry Connick Jr

New in Town

Inciting Event: Miami businesswoman Lucy arrives in New Olm, Minnesota, in the middle of winter, where she’s been sent to oversee the downsizing and mechanization of a food factory. This her first encounter with the main conflict: being a fish out of water in a new place. Right on the heels of her arrival, she […]

Serendipity John Cusack Kate Beckinsale

Serendipity

Inciting Event: After meeting at Bloomingdale’s where they both tried to buy the last pair of black gloves (and subsequently spending a wonderful evening together), Sara writes her phone number in a book and has Jonathan write his address on a five-dollar bill. She spends the five dollars and tells him she will sell the […]