Tag Archives: MICE Quotient

13.23: Internal Conflicts

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

Internal conflicts, simply put, are problems your characters have with themselves. In this episode we address the ways in which writers can build stories and subplots around internal conflicts, and how we can tell when it’s not working.

Notes: the MICE quotient is Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. Mary’s relationship axes are Role, Relationship, Status, and Competence.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Use the Role, Relationship, Status, and Competence axes to define one of your characters. Then determine how each of these creates conflict with the one following it in the list.

An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon

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!

MICE

Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Instructions:

  1. Pick one of the MACE elements (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, or Event)
  2. Describe, in three sentences, how your story’s primary plot will use that element.
  3. Pick a second element.
  4. Describe, in three sentences, how your story’s sub-plot will use that element.
  5. Nest these sentences, creating a six-sentence outline for your story.
  6. Nest the sentences in a different order, outlining your story with the sub-plot’s element now functioning as the primary plot

The 2017 Hugo nominees for Best Short Story:

¹ Available in the Hugo Voter packet

12.27: Choosing a Length

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

We discuss the ways in which we decide upon the length of the stories we write, and at which point(s) in the creative process we make that decision.

Liner Notes: This is the story-length formula that Mary shared with us:
Ls=((C+L) *750)*1.5Mq
(In English: Add the number of characters and the number of locations. Multiply that sum by 750. Then multiply that number by 1.5 times the number of MICE elements the story incorporates.)

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Take a big, complex story, and re-tell it as a children’s story—something you’d read at bedtime, like Are You My Mother? or Goodnight Moon.

Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, by Howard Tayler
(Note: the book is shipping now to Kickstarter backers. You can order it now via Backerkit, but it won’t appear at Amazon or the Schlock Mercenary store until August.)

11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A

In this episode we field some questions about elemental mystery. Here they are!

  • How do you balance between two mysteries in the same story?
  • What types of mysteries can fit well as sub-plots?
  • What do you do when beta readers figure out the mystery really early?
  • In the MICE quotient, are mysteries all “Idea” stories?
  • How do you write a protagonist who is smarter than you are?
  • How do you make sure your genius protagonist is still experiencing an interesting struggle?
  • How do you make a kidnap victim more than just a MacGuffin?
  • How “literary” can you make your mystery?

Liner Notes: The movie Howard referred to is Cellular, with Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, and Jason Statham.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Take a book or film that you enjoy, and write down every mystery you see.

I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

11.10: Idea, as Genre, with Nancy Fulda

Nancy Fulda joined us in the dark dungeons of Dragonsteel Entertainment to discuss the elemental genre of “Idea.” It’s tricky, because “Idea” in the elemental genres model isn’t quite the same as “Idea” in the M.I.C.E. quotient. There’s a lot of overlap, of course, but the differences are significant.

We talk about stories in which the driving force is “ooh, let’s think about this for a while,” and how we might go about instilling this sense of fascination in our readers.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Find a cool idea, and then brainstorm twenty stories you could tell, using that idea as the core element.

Dead Men Don’t Cry, by Nancy Fulda, narrated by Joseph Zieja

Writing Excuses 10.42: How In The World Do I Tie All This Together?

Nalo Hopkinson joins us again, at sea, for our second Master Class installment on endings. We cover some of the reasons why an ending might not be working, and then talk about the sorts of diagnoses that will help you solve the problem. You’ll likely need to dig deep in your toolbox. Our episodes covering the MICE quotient, promises made to the readers, and the Hollywood formula may be worth reviewing in this process.

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Consider the last paragraph of your work in progress. Compare it to your first paragraph. Identify possible resonances that you can mirror between the two.

Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Michael Kramer