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MICE

Hello everyone. I've decided to start a blog, partly because it sounds amusing, and partly because I want to remind myself of everything I should be doing while writing. This blog will dispense whatever sage advice I happen to have to offer, along with the side tangents and other thoughts that come to mind while writing these things. I will have space at the end of each blog for a more condensed version of the advice, for the sake of clarity and really making sure I get all this stuff. I'm still working on making it look pretty, and I probably won't have it super fancy until sometime in January. Let's face it, I'm never going to get around to it.
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MICE

Posted February 2nd, 2016 at 11:33 AM by Bardothren

Salutations! Woohoo, no "Hello" to start off this one! Anyways, there's something funny about my blog I want to address, but first, a funny life story from yours truly.

For the past week, I've been losing circulation in my left pinky. At first, it was sporadic, and mainly happened while I was typing, but for the last two days, it's been constantly asleep. It's been bugging the hell out of me, and I didn't figure out what it was until last night. Anywho, in Orchestra rehearsal, I was experiencing difficulty in using my pinky to hold down the strings and was contemplating what would happen if I had to go into surgery for it when I started to get dizzy. I recognized the sensation from the last time I passed out, alerted the teacher about my imminent fainting spell in front of sixty people, and went to sit at the back of the room. A few minutes later, I had recovered enough to pack up and walk home.

At this point, any sane person would call up a doctor. I called my dad... who is also a doctor. Turns out I've been typing so much with my wrist on the laptop that I was cutting off circulation. :| I'm using a pair of boxers to keep my wrist elevated, and I think it's working. As for my fainting spell... remember that 'last time' I mentioned? Last time, I was sitting in the chair of an orthodontist or whatever it's called. He was explaining the procedure for pulling out my wisdom teeth when I started getting dizzy and nearly passed out. Luckily, there was literally a tank of oxygen right next to me, so the doctor popped on the oxygen and kept me conscious. So... I think you get why it happened this time. I'm squeamish. Deal with it.

The wisdom teeth operation itself went smoothly, and I had a great time playing the first Assassins Creed on mukloads of Vicodin. But I'm getting off track. Now, the blog. I noticed that two entries had higher view counts than their predecessors. Plot and Conflict beat out my first entry (and all the others) by a whopping hundred views, while Plot Holes won out over the previous week. I've been meaning to address this peculiarity for some time, and I've pondered why it would occur, when it hit me. They're both about plot. Hmm... I guess you guys like plot a lot. Therefore, this week's topic is plot related. No, I'm not talking about mice, I'm talking about MICE.

...let me explain.

M.I.C.E.

I'll be upfront about this one. I'm ripping this topic straight out of a book I read: Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by Card, Athens, Lake, etc. Yep, right up my alley. I will be explaining their analysis much the same way they did, but with my own spin on it.

Alright, let's get to it.

MICE represents the four types of plot structure found in stories. There may be a mixture of these plot elements, or they may focus solely on one.

M represents the Milieu story, an exploration of a unique and strange new world. It begins with the entry into a new world and ends with leaving it. The Wizard of Oz is an easy example. These narratives survive or fall on the strength of the descriptive language.

I is the Idea story. Simply put, it's a mystery novel. It starts with the presentation of a question and ends when the question is answered. Sherlock Holmes is a classic one, or any mystery novel for that matter. For this type of story, it's crucial to have a well-written plot written from the perspective of someone with average intelligence. It's why Sherlock has Watson - to make it so the reader doesn't know what Sherlock knows. You want the answer hidden in plain sight, not comprehensible until the end is reached and all the pieces are tied together. They also thrive from providing the right mood for a mystery.

C stands for the Character Story. It covers the transformation of a character, beginning with a prompted change and ends when the change is complete. For a classic example, you might consider Frankenstein or The Scarlet Letter. For a more contemporary and anime related example, I'd go with Death Parade or Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. These require very detailed and intimate character development, something I find impossible to achieve in my own writing. Be careful, however, as these can be hard to tell apart from the next one...

E, or Event Story. These are by far the most common type in modern culture, starting with a change in the world order and ending with either a new order, the restoration of the old, or perhaps the complete destruction of everything. Event Stories range from The Dark Knight to Star Wars, from FullMetal Alchemist to Gurren Lagann (which is arguably also a character story), and from Harry Potter to garbage like Twilight. Pokemon, Kingdom Hearts, Assassins Creed, Call of Duty, Portal... you name it, it's probably an Event Story. By far the easiest to write in my opinion, these focus on conflict and require an easy to follow yet entertaining plot. This is general - these types of stories are fairly easy to adapt to your own tastes.

It's important to note these aren't four distinct categories. There's often shades of each type in a particular story. Character and Event stories can blend together seamlessly, while a question might be explored in a strange new world. There's many ways to construct these narratives and mix them together. If you're overwhelmed and can't decide what kind of narrative you have (a great way to figure out how to focus your plot) then ask yourself: where does my story begin and end?

Summary

Here's a quick rundown for those of you trying to decide how to fit your plot to the MICE paradigm.

M: My story begins by going into a new world and ends by leaving it. I need to focus on imagery.
I: My story begins with a question and ends with the answer. Subtle plot and mood are key.
C: My story begins with a character change and ends when the change is complete. My characterization needs to be pristine.
E: My story begins with a societal upheaval and ends with the upheaval's ending. The plot and conflict need to be smooth and easy to follow, but interesting enough to keep a reader's attention.

So, that's that. No examples this time, because that would take too long. Until next time, everyone, don't think about cardiovascular surgery in your orchestra classes!
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