Orson Scott Card wrote a book called How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In this book he talks about the MICE quotient. He says, "All stories contain four elements that can determine structure: Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event." I found this concept interesting because I was trying to follow the three act structure talked about by James Scot Bell in his book Plot and Structure.
When I went to define the objective of Act II, I had this vague idea but didn't know what to do with it. I jotted down the following: Find out who is trying to harm her and end it. Are you rolling your eyes? I was at the time so, I turned to Mr. Cards MICE quotient to see if it could help me organize my thoughts.
After reading the pages in the book, I summarized what I thought were the salient points.
|Milieu Story||A stranger arrives in the world and sees what there is to experienced.||The stranger either leaves or decides to stay.|
|Idea Story||It begins with the question.||It ends with the answer.|
|Character Story||Begins when the main character becomes unsettled in his/her role and starts the process to change the role.||In the end, the main character either settles into his/her new role or gives up the struggle and remains in the old role.|
|Event Story||Starts when something in the world is out of order.||Ends with a new order, old order restored, or when the order has been destroyed.|
With these notes (and the book) in hand, I brainstormed each story element to see which element would be the primary focus of my story. I found that I each element played a prominant role. I would like to share with you all the ideas I bounced around regarding the world, questions/answers, characters, and events, but I would most likely spoil the surprise.
Let's just say this exercise was worth the effort.