Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal
With the M.I.C.E. elements (Milieu, Inquiry, Character, and Event) explained, and the concept of nesting, or braiding the M.I.C.E. threads, we’re ready to dive into that most difficult part of the story: the middle.
Enough of us dread (or at least struggle with) middle-of-story writing that the promise of a structural tool to make it easier is kind of glorious. Our seventh installment in M.I.C.E. Quotient discussions talks about how to use M.I.C.E. elements to inform try-fail cycles, ask/answer sequences, and conflicts in general.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:41 — 15.8MB)
Examine the conflicts in the middle of your fairy-tale project (the same one you’ve used for the last six episodes of homework.) Ask yourself if those are the conflicts you want to engage with. If they are, add a try-fail cycle that fits the MICE elements you’ve employed so far.
Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, Mahtab, and Brandon
This episode comes from a question we’re often asked: “how do you stay excited about a story you’re working on?” We talk about how we maintain our passion for the stories we’re working on, and how that’s not the same as being super excited to write every time we sit down at the keyboard
Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:40 — 12.9MB)
Return to your notes or your outline and look for the things that excited you about writing this story. Write those down.
Marie Brennan joins us again, this time to help us field your questions about middles. Here are the questions we collected from the various social media feeds:
- How do you maintain interest without having something explode every other chapter?
- In short fiction, how do you prevent try-fail cycles from bloating the story?
- How do you prevent the introduction of POVs during the middle of the story from being jarring?
- How do you keep subplots from turning into side quests?
- In longer stories, how important are “breather” chapters that ease the tension?
- Do you have methods for weaving plot and subplot threads together? Do you outline this, or keep it in your head?
Fifty-Cent Word: Proprioception, which serves as an excellent metaphor for what expertise with a set of tools feels like. Thank you, Marie, for simplifying the whole “the tool should be an extension of your hand” thing.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:45 — 13.6MB)
Murder the Middle Darling: Remove an element (subplot, side character, location) from the middle of your story, and see how that changes the pacing of your story.