Scott Card’s MICE Quotient

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.

StoryBeginsEnds
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 StoryBegins 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 StoryStarts 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.

Published by Cindy McCourt

I wear many hats: author, website planner, Drupal consultant, instructional designer, trainer.

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