Orson Scott Card is a famous science-fiction writer. He is also the father of a special plotting method called the M.I.C.E. quotient. This method was first detailed in Card's books Character and Viewpoint and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. M.I.C.E. is an acronym representing the words milieu, (a French and defunct English word for "environment"; used here as setting) idea, character, and event. Card believed that every story is based around one of those principles, although most stories contain elements of all four.
A milieu story is one based around an interesting setting and generally has a plot in which the characters start and stop in the same place. An idea story is built up from a central premise and involves developing information about that premise. A character story begins with one of the characters and fleshes out around that character, with the character him/herself going through a well-defined character arc. An event story has basis in one or more occurrences of very high importance.
The M.I.C.E. quotient can be a helpful tool for authors having trouble developing their plot, especially aiding outliners.
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