16.42: M.I.C.E. Quotient, After the Fact

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

Our eighth and final M.I.C.E. Quotient discussion will explore using M.I.C.E. as a diagnostic tool. So… your manuscript is done, but something isn’t working. How do you figure out where the problem is? If the ending isn’t satisfying, M.I.C.E. can tell you whether the ending itself is actually at fault, and in this episode we’ll show you how.

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


Finally, you can let go of that fairy-tale rewrite. It’s time to apply these M.I.C.E. Quotient tools to something else you’ve written. Easy homework! Just, y’know… go fix your manuscript.

Just Keep Writing, a podcast by Marshall Carr

4 thoughts on “16.42: M.I.C.E. Quotient, After the Fact”

  1. Just listened to this one and laughed at the “just fix it” comment at the end.

    I recently received this same advice from my 7-year-old granddaughter. After listening to me discuss an issue with my house, she sagely advised me to hire “the worker men” to address it. Then she added, “See, Nana, you just have to think about your problems and how to solve them. Then you can fix them.”

    Ah, the wisdom of children.

  2. In the grand finale of the deep dive into the M.I.C.E. Quotient, this week Dan, C.L., Charlotte, and Mary Robinette looked at how you could use the M.I.C.E. Quotient elements and your understanding of how they fit together while editing. Check how the beginning, middle, and end fit together. Do the questions you set up in the beginning, the conflicts in the middle, and the resolutions in the ending match up? Are your characters escaping, answering questions, unhappy with themselves, or are they trying to restore the status quo? What kinds of obstacles and complications do you have? Now, decide whether to fix it by cutting, or by strengthening. Go ahead, read all about it in the transcript, available now in the archives.

  3. I love Charlotte’s framing asking “what is the middle for?” (and, no, I have no idea). It does call into mind Brandon’s notion of outlining backwards to address the tensions in the middle. If the resolution (Millieu) is that the characters need A, B, C things to get out fo the millieu, then making those happen and the complications and obstacles for those are the middle. If we know the final resolution (Inquiry will require the character to know things alpha, beta, gamma, then the middle has to be the complications and obstacles in uncovering X, Y, Z. If the resolution (Character) is a character transforms into X, which happens after X, Y, Z experiences, then those experiences are the middle. And of course for Event, it is the necessary pieces (chi, psi, omega?) to restore the status quo. Threading then the A,BC with alpha beta and omega and having them interfere with each other *should* theoretically provide a lot of substance for the middle. It sounds so easy, yet I struggle so much to do it.

    I will say this question makes me want to try for nanowrimo next month to outline a story starting with the middle. I’m going to try to come up with four to six cool middle of the story scenes and write those first. and THEN ask? What questions would lead to these scenes in the beginning? What answers would they lead the characters to at the end.

    I expect an unadulterated catastrophe from this

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