Ken attributes MICE to Mary Robinette Kowal, who explains the concept in this lecture on Youtube.
In The Wizard of Oz, a tornado upends Kansas (Event) sending Dorothy to the Milieu of Oz.
- Luke Skywalker hates his life (inner Character conflict)
- He’s curious about how to use the mysterious Force (Inquiry)
- The Death Star threatens the galaxy (external Event)
- Luke & company are captured by the Death Star (Milieu)
- They escape the Death Star with the princess (Milieu resolved)
- Luke uses the Force to destroy the Death Star (Event + Inquiry resolved)
- Luke is the hero of the galaxy (inner Character angst resolved)
((# of characters + # of locations) x number of MICE elements x 750 words)/ 1.5
A story with 2 characters in one location with one MICE conflict would be:
((2+1) x1 x750)=2250/1.5=1500 words.
A story with five characters, eight locations, and four MICE elements:
((5+8) x4 x750)=39,000/1.5=26,000 words. Not a short story!
For novels, each major plot braid can have its own MICE equation.
Ken was clear that this equation is a guideline meant to demonstrate that the more complicated the story (in terms of characters, setting, and types of conflict), the more words it takes to tell. A very helpful tip for writers like myself who tend to overcomplicate with a large cast and multiple subplots!