Ha, I bet that got your attention! I’m talking about Orson Scott Card’s four-cornered story foundation, not four-legged cat food.
MICE stands for: Mileu (or setting), Idea, Character, and Event. Novels need to have all of these in place to be a well-rounded story. (I’d like to say they’d have to have all four to be on a store shelf, but I’m sure someone could point to an example of a book that doesn’t!)
What I’m curious about these days is: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The rage these days is for character-driven stories. Trust me, I totally understand that. I like nothing more than to get right in there in characters’ heads and experience life through them. It’s why I prefer novels in tight third POV or even in first to pretty much anything in omniscient.
But is it necessary to have the character appear in the writers’ mind first for the story to be character-driven? I’d like to think that, no matter what the starting point, an experienced writer can pull all the parts of MICE together seamlessly so that it isn’t obvious to the reader where the story came from originally.
That said, I tend to come up with ideas first, then audition characters to find the ones who’d like to explore my ideas. What comes first in your mind?