16.40: Nesting Threads in the M.I.C.E. Quotient

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. PolkCharlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal

Now that we’ve drilled down into each of the M.I.C.E. elements (Milieu, Inquiry, Character, and Event) it’s time to explore nesting them. This sixth installment in our M.I.C.E. Quotient series focuses on the “FILO” (first-in, last-out) or “nested parentheses” method for symmetrically creating a story using M.I.C.E. elements.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson


Using the same fairy tale you’ve been using for this series, pick any two of the MICE elements, and nest them neatly. Then flip them and nest them the other way.

Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal

6 thoughts on “16.40: Nesting Threads in the M.I.C.E. Quotient”

  1. This nesting threads business comes from something called queuing theory. The common acronyms for the two simplest and most common types of queues are FIFO – First In – First Out and LIFO – Last In – First Out. LIFO, of course is the same as FILO. But LIFO is used far more commonly for this kind of queue.
    As a good example of a LIFO/FILO queue is Russian nesting dolls. A good example of a FIFO (which could also be called a LILO for queue, LILO standing for – Last In – Last Out) queue is a bunch of cars lined up at a toll gate.
    LIFO queues are found all over the place in compute software. There, they are often simply called a “stack”. Modern computer languages like Pascal and C make heavy use of stacks.

    1. Another example of stacks, courtesy of one of my lecturers – if you wear more than one layer of clothing on the same area of your body, then to remove all of them, you (generally) have to remove them in the reverse order from how you put them on.

      (He was actually talking about chaining mathematical functions together, and how, to get back to where you started from, you have to apply the inverse functions in the reverse order.)

  2. This week, Dan, C.L., Charlotte, Mary Robinette, and Elsie talked about nesting threads, or first in, last out. Opening and closing brackets? Multiple M.I.C.E. threads of different types can add interest, but pay attention to your braiding! Plenty of interesting discussion, available for your reading pleasure in the transcript now in the archives.

  3. And the computer nerd in me went “So it’s just like XML or HTML where you nest elements and each has to have a closing tag and they have to be properly sequenced or the page breaks.

  4. In a previous episode, you compared nesting mice quotients to computer code, and the concept of nesting, itself, I believe comes from coding. How far does that analogy go? In code, you can have parts of the code run in series, while being nested in an overarching code. For example, the following is an acceptable order in code: .

    This is like saying that there are one or two overarching mice plots and then in each part or act, there is a unique mice plot that ends with that section. This would extend down to the paragraph or scene level, too.

    My question is: is this a good approach to using mice elements or am I reading into the analogy too much?


Comments are closed.