Sid Field Key Incident

So, I’m reading Sid Field’s seminal book SCREENPLAY – The Foundations of Screenwriting. Sid makes a distinction between what he calls the ‘key incident’ and the ‘inciting incident’.

On p35, Sid says this:

“In Mystic River, the inciting incident is in the past, when Dave (Tim Robbins) was abducted by the two perverts; it sets the story in motion and leads to the ‘key’ incident: the discovery of Jimmy’s (Sean Penn’s) murdered daughter.”

Then, two paragraphs later, Sid writes:

“Sometimes the key incident will be something that has affected your character’s life at an earlier time, as in Mystic River.

But wait a minute, Sid just said the earlier life event in Mystic River is the ‘inciting incident.’ Now it’s the ‘key incident.’

Ironically, on p36, Sid writes:

“When you begin writing your screenplay it’s essential that you know the distinctions between the inciting incident and the key incident.”

But Sid, haven’t you just confused the key incident and inciting incident yourself?

What do you think?

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