I thought we’d talk about M.I.C.E. No, not the little furry creatures, but Orson Scott Card’s list of types of stories. In How to Write Science Fiction, he says there are 4 types of stories: Milieu, Idea, Character, Event. These are skewed toward Science Fiction, obviously, since he is a science fiction writer, but they seem fit with all stories/novels.
The Milieu is the world — the planet, the society, the weather, all the elements that come up during the world creation phase. Every story has a milieu, but in some stories, the milieu is the point of the story. It follows the basic structure of Gulliver’s Travels — an observer goes to the strange place, sees all the world has to offer, and comes back a new person. The Milieu story obviously starts when the stranger arrives in the world and end when he leaves (or decides to stay for good).
The Idea is about the new bits of information that are discovered in the process of the story by characters who did not previously know that information. Idea stories are about the process of finding the information. The Idea story begins by raising a question; it ends when the question is answered.
The Character story is about the character’s character. It’s about the transformation of the character and the character’s role in society. The attempt to change doesn’t have to be a conscious decision, it can be unconscious, a seizing of an opportunity that takes him in a new direction. The Character story begins when something happens to make the character so dissatisfied with his present role that he begins the process of change. It ends when the character settles into his new role (happily or not) or gives up the struggle and remains in the old role (happily or not).
The Event story is about a change in the universe, a disorder, and the story begins when a new order is about to be established. The Event story begins when when the world becomes disordered and ends when a new order has been established. (Or when the world descends into chaos).
So, are there other basic types of stories? Do your stories/novels fit one of these categories? What is your Milieu, Idea, Character, Event? Most stories have more than one of these elements, so how do they fit together in your stories?