In chapter five Card asks the question, “What kind of story are you telling?” He then categorizes various stories with what he calls “The MICE quotient.” Here’s a quote from Card:
“It is a mistake to think that “good characterization” is the same thing in every work of fiction. Different kinds of stories require different kinds of characters.
But what are the different kinds of stories? Forget about publishing genres… Instead we’ll look at four basic factors that are present in every story, with varying degrees of emphasis. It is the balance among these factors that determines what sort of characterization a story must have, should have, or can have.”
The four factors make up the acronym MICE.
M – Milieu stories
I – Idea stories
C – Character stories
E – Event stories
Card then contends that usually a given story will feature one of these elements more heavily than others, and that Character stories are the dominant type of story in our culture today.
I’m not going to explain all four factors here (you really should read the book!), but rather I’ll focus on one factor: Milieu.