12.32: Structuring a Short Piece
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard
We begin our exploration of short story structure with a re-cap of the MACE quotient (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, Event). Then we apply that tool to how we structure the pieces we write—specifically the short ones.
Liner Notes: Here’s “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal
And here’s a handy MICE quotient chart!
Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
- Pick one of the MACE elements (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, or Event)
- Describe, in three sentences, how your story’s primary plot will use that element.
- Pick a second element.
- Describe, in three sentences, how your story’s sub-plot will use that element.
- Nest these sentences, creating a six-sentence outline for your story.
- Nest the sentences in a different order, outlining your story with the sub-plot’s element now functioning as the primary plot
Thing of the week: The 2017 Hugo nominees for Best Short Story.
- “The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin
- “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong
- “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander
- “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar
- “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn
- “An Unimaginable Light”¹ by John C. Wright
¹ Available in the Hugo Voter packet.
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