Sequence 01: The Mice Quotient

The Gist

When I first seriously started studying writer's craft, I picked up Character & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card.  I found it very useful for improving my characterization, but the book also introduced me to one of my favorite authorial tools, the MICE quotient.  In this sequence, I wrote blogs inspired by my contemplation of Card's MICE quotient.

The Roster

  1. The MICE Quotient - A Storyteller's Mixing Board [11Feb13]
    I propose that every story has milieu, idea, character and event elements present in some amount, large or small.  How much is up to the author and how high he wants to crank that particular dial on his/her mixing board.
  2. Filtering with MICE: What Story is Really Being Told? [18Feb13]
    To figure out which aspects of the MICE quotient are most prevalent in a given work, look to the initiating event, the protagonist motivation and the climax.  Being honest with what story is being told is the first step to control of the work.
  3. Every Milieu Starts with an Island [25Feb13]
    Every milieu, no matter how large or small can be defined as an island.  Boundaries may be political, social, economic, religious or philosophical as easily as they could be geographic.  What limits your protagonist's movements?  This defines your area of focus.
  4. Torches and Hallways: Exploring Your Milieu [ 04Mar13]
    Deciding what in your milieu to illuminate with the torch of your protagonist's perspective is essential.  Done correctly, enough hints are given to define milieu, but tease at the vastness of the milieu beyond his/her perspective.
  5. Smoke and Mirrors: Milieu by Deception [10Mar13]
    The smoke and mirrors metaphor guides me during world building, helping give my milieu a sense of massiveness while providing the flexibility needed for future expansion.
  6. The Horse Problem [18Mar13]
    I know nothing about the details of grooming and maintaining a horse.  So then, how do I write about it realistically?  Research and well informed friends!
  7. You Can Lead a Horse to Water... [25Mar13]
    Few people like to be preached to, especially in their fiction.  So then, how do you get your point across?
  8. Photographers and Subjects: Imagination and Execution [01Apr13]
    Which is more important, brilliant ideas or excellent storycraft?  In short, craft, but both are essential to reaching full potential.  A skilled gardener can grow plants in poor soil, but he gets even better results with quality materials.
  9. Ideas: Cheaper by the Dozen [08Apr13]
    Ideas are cheap.  As an author, you've had thousands and will have thousands more.  When it comes time to kill a darling, however, there are other options than burying them in a shallow grave out back.
  10. The Moral Quandary: Ideals Drive Our World [15Apr13]
    As an author, we are casting a stone into the imagination of our readers.  What the ripples stir up is entirely out of our control.  Be sure you are able to be proud of the consequences of your words.
  11. A Hero is as a Hero Does [22Apr13]
    Heroes are active by definition and those actions will speak louder than any description, exposition or dialogue.  Want to show character?  Do something!
  12. Know What You are Buying: Breaking Character [29Apr13]
    Never, ever break character!  Well, unless you know what you are doing and are willing to pay the price in reader suspension of disbelief.  So, I guess you can break character whenever you think it is worth it.
  13. My Best Frenemy is Me [06May13]
    Protagonists should both solve and create many of their own problems.  Really, it's more fun that way.
  14. The Social Masquerade: Faces We Show the World [12May13]
    We all wear social masks, disguises that we use to protect ourselves and define our interactions with others.  The thing is, that isn't bad, it's just part of how the world works.  It isn't dishonest as each of those masks are you, just different aspects of you brought to the fore.
  15. Fighting Free of the Mire [20May13]
    Beginnings are easy and climaxes are awesome, but it is very easy to get lost in the parts in between.  I use the concept of the Big Middle, learned from Jim Butcher, as a stepping stone to help me through the sticky parts.
  16. The Climatic Payoff - Make the Green Lincoln Appear on Stage [27May13]
    Part of good stagecraft is using foreshadowing and anticipation to build the climax to greater heights than it could be on its own.  I look at a master of stagecraft, David Copperfield, for inspiration on how to pull this off.
  17. Zero to Sixty: Coming Off the Starting Line [03Jun13]
    With the demand for instant gratification growing ever stronger, it is essential for writers to examine how they start their stories and maintain their momentum through the long haul.
  18. The Best Days of Our Lives [10Jun13]
    Often enough, it is the small, quiet moments that define who we are and who we are to become.  And, to readers engaged with a character, they are fascinating.
  19. Delivering the Promised Ending [17Jun13]
    When you start a story, you make a contract with the reader, a contract that you will have to pay up on before he/she reaches the back cover.  Do you know what you are promising?
  20. Finding MICE's Place in your Storyteller's Toolbox [24Jun13]
    The MICE quotient is one of my favorite tools, because for me, it is effective.  Where does it belong in your toolbox?  That is entirely up to you.


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