Developed by sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, the M.I.C.E. quotient says that every work of fiction has four cornerstones:
Milieu - a society or environment. Milieu stories often begin with the arrival of a stranger (who will see the environment with different eyes than long-time residents)or the departure of the protagonist from his home (to compare the new environment/society against the familiar).
Idea - the premise of the story. Mysteries and thrillers are idea stories.
Character - stories about how the main character changes in a way that allows him to become happier (or less happy, if life is okay at the start). Any piece of literary fiction is typically a character story.
Event - where one world order gives way to another. Historical novels are generally event-driven.
In most works, one of these will dominate.
Milieu: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar -- most sci-fi and fantasy, actually.
Idea: The Da Vinci Code, anything by Mary Higgins Clark, or Robin Cook -- any book where you can sum up the plot, "What if...?" Like: What if someone started trafficking in the body parts needed for transplants? (Blindsight (Cook))
Character: Silence of the Lambs(Hannibal Lector), The Catcher in the Rye (Holden Caulfield)
Event: Schindler's List, Titanic
The really great books, though, are strong in multiple areas: Gone with the Wind (milieu, character and event), The Handmaid's Tale, (milieu and idea), A Clockwork Orange, (milieu, idea and character).
Last Week's Winner:
Jeanie, at Living Consciously: ...my most vivid childhood memory is of the bootlegger coming to our house every Thursday night bringing Jim Beam and Gilbeys Gin. He was very fat, drove a black 1953 Chevrolet and I was scared to death of him.
Next Week's Prompt:
Create a piece of flash fiction (click here for the flash fiction contest rules) that is weighted toward one of the MICE principles. Let's see, without your telling me, if I can figure out which one.