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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Crafting Corner— “MICE”


I’m currently reading Life of Pi. Everyone raves about this book—but I’m struggling. I keep looking for the PLOT, but it refuses to be found. Maybe it is still floating on the ocean :)

When I read books that I find boring or slow it really helps me to remember—all books are not constructed with the same emphasis on plot. I came across this idea while reading Characters and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card.

There are 4 types of story factors. Each of these factors are present in every story, but one will usually take prominence. Card has an acronym to help us remember these factors: MICE.

M—Milieu
I—Idea
C—Character
E—Event

Milieu—In a Milieu story the setting or world takes prominence. The world becomes another character. The way the characters interact with the setting dramatically affects the story. If you take the characters away from the world the story falls apart.
Example: Lord of the Rings and Gullivers Travels.

Idea—A question is always posed at the beginning of an Idea story.  The entire point of the story is to answer this question. Mysteries and thrillers are Idea stories. These stories generally get a reputation having weak characterization, but the point of this kind of story is not the characters, it’s the idea.
Example: Agatha Christie and Dan Brown

Character—Literary fiction almost always falls into the category of a Character story. In this story character is KING! Character arch can replace the plot. The point of the story is the characters journey.
Example: To Kill a Mocking Bird and The Road

Event—In this type of story one event is usually the catalyst for the entire story. The world is out of balance somehow and the point of the story is to right this wrong. The Event stories drips with plot.
Example: Hunger Games and Harry Potter

Great stories will have a little of all these factors, but one is usually more prominent than the others. If you are struggling with a story maybe it is because you aren’t crazy about its main factor. I know I’m more drawn to event stories than any other kind.

What about you? Do you write: milieu, idea, character, or event stories? Which is your favorite to read?

-Angie

25 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

I am definitely a character and event kind of girl. I'm fairly certain I would be terrible at writing a mystery!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Awesome post, Angela. When you put it this way, I'm an event and character kind of girl. I can't write pure character based stories (can't read them either), but I had never realized there were other options beyond plot or character based stories.

Grumpy Bulldog, March Madman said...

I found Life of Pi to be extremely boring for the first 150 or so pages until the ship gets wrecked. Then it starts to get more interesting.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Hmm, I definitely write Character stories with a bit of Idea or Event mixed in. Although, at this point in my writing life, plot is my weakest aspect. But I'm working on it!

Funny thing is, I enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers, etc. but when I tried writing one, well, let's just say, even I didn't want to read it when I was done. :)

Brinda said...

I have looked at the Life of Pi book a million times and thought, "I really should read this." Alas, I haven't bought it yet.

Cherie Reich said...

That's neat about MICE. I'll have to remember that. I'm not sure which type of story I like more. I love reading mysteries/thrillers, but I loved The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. My novels tend to probably lean more toward "Event" books, but they have the others too.

elizabeth seckman said...

I am a plot lover. I will totally skip whole chunks of description and prose and go straight for the meat. I suppose that reminds us that there are a variety of reader tastes and preferences. Makes the 'it's not for me' rejection go down a little smoother.

Cassie Mae said...

I'm a character girl. Usually the 'bad guy' in my books, is the protagonist themselves

Meredith said...

How interesting! I tend to focus on character in my stories, though there's usually an event in there, too. I need some plot to keep me invested in the story!

i'm erin. said...

I'm a character type of writer, but I love reading event type of books. I think I need to pull that together and write a better event type of book. I'm not as big on the world books, but I've read some I love. I definitely need a lot of conflict for my characters though. It keeps me reading.

Johanna Garth said...

I just read a great milieu book called The Night Swimmer. But honestly, it's the event books that keep me reading and finishing in under 24 hours.

Emily R. King said...

I prefer to be drawn in by the characters. A good character stays with you long after you read The End.

J. A. Bennett said...

I like this idea, I need to research it more...

Hope Roberson said...

I'm a character writer. I think I'm a character reader as well. Emotions drive my story and I'm drawn to that in other writing. MICE is a great way to look at it, thanks for sharing :)

Leigh Covington said...

This is terrible, but I keep getting distracted by the cute little mice! Awwww! (Yes, I'm weird.)

Love this though. I have a hard time with stories that have no plot. Ugh. I hope to be well rounded in all aspects, but who knows if I'll pull it off.

Jolene Perry said...

CHARACTER.

Easy.
It's WHY I write stories, and I have to say that nearly being a theater major has come in VERY handy.

Aldrea Alien said...

Definitely Character and Event. Although there's probably a bit of Milieu chucked in there too.
Either way, I read all three.

Like Leigh, I couldn't stop staring at the mice. They're so cute. ^_^

Stacy Henrie said...

Since I write romance, I'm going to go with character stories. :)

Gwen said...

I love Card's book. It's simply fabulous, I need to get my hands on the rest of that series.

Personally, I'm a character and milieu person. I love world building ^_^

Lisa said...

Character all the way, baby!
Both reading & writing.

K.S. Lewis said...

Definitely character, but with a touch of milieu and event. Sometimes the world can be a character as well, ^_^. But yeah, I write and read for the characters first.

Angela Brown said...

I think you just solved my "riddle me this" issue regarding The Book Thief. I absolutely adored the writing and the presentation but I'm an event reader. I thrive on activity, action, something happening. From looking at my WiPs, I'm apparently an event writer as well.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Oh, I love this list; I'm going to print it out and tuck it into my journal, because it'll help me figure out how I want to structure my next story. I do focus on character in my stories, but I also try to come up with one important event that has a big impact on the characters' lives; that way, it's fun to figure out how the different people react to that event.

Tara Tyler said...

never really thought about it. i'm drawn to a good event, possibly a cool setting, not so much characters and less idea. i need action to keep my interest or my mind wanders...

thanks for passing that on!

Beth said...

I like character stories. But they are hard to sell in this market, especially if you don't write literary fiction.

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