Story Structure

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This is a link dumping ground, for now anyway.

Narrative conflict


The MICE Quotient: How to Structure Your Story by Karen Woodward discusses the four types of stories according to Orson Scott Card:

  • Milieu stories center around a location
  • Idea stories center around information (most often a murder)
  • Character stories center around what a character does and why
  • Event stories center around a specific event and why it occurred

Mary Robinette Kowal and The Mysteries of Outlining by Karen Woodward provides instructions based on a workshop by Mary Robinette Kowal around how to outline. Note that you don't have to do the outline *before* you write the story, but it can help you find holes no matter when you do it.

  1. Write down all the events of the story
  2. Look for plot holes and fill them in
  3. Look for duplication and remove it
  4. Flesh out the scenes
    1. What happens
    2. When it happens
    3. Where it is
    4. The character arc
    5. The time of day
    6. Who is the main character?

It also gives some insight into when to give which character the Point of View in the scene.

The Mysteries of Outlining and Nesting MICE: Creating Killer Stories by Karen Woodward covers using the MICE technique with outlining to create robust stories. Essentially it recommends that you can nest multiple MICE elements within each other... but that much like syntactically correct HTML, you need to close your tags in the reverse order you opened them... i.e. if you start with a Milieu and then go to a Character, then you have to close the Character arc before you close the Milieu arc.

Making a Scene: Conflicts and Setbacks by Karen Woodward looks not at the whole story but at a scene within the story. She based it on more skills by Mary Robinette Kowal, and the technique is called "Yes BUT... / No AND..." and it's about providing the characters with conflicts and setbacks. The goal is to let the character make progress, but without allowing that progress to be smooth sailing.

Building up a story