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.
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?