Beginning The Story


Orson Scott Card’s wonderful MICE quotient is a great tool for fitting your story into specific context. MICE stands for Milieu, Idea, Character and Event. Card’s theory is that the nature of a story’s conflict can be codified for big picture study. Once dropped into the MICE quotient, the beginning, end and nature of the conflict of the story are simple to determine.


In a Milieu type story, characters will explore a strange new world, whether that be physical or metaphorical. Whether a fantastic land of dragons and sorceresses or an alien planet with symbiotic entities, the key to this story type is that the protagonist is a stand in for the audience. This story is really about the audience exploring the world you’ve created. The protagonist can be as stunned as we are, and need all the questions answered about this world that we do. This story type is about the world you’ve built.

This Type of story begins when the protagonist leaves her normal world and enters the other. The conflict is an attempt to come back to her original world. The story ends when she comes back home, or elects to stay in the new world. READ MORE ...about Beginning The Story

Building The Beat Sheet

The Three Act Structure

Act One of the script is the Thesis of the film. It invites the reader into the normal world of the protagonist. Act Two is Antithesis. It flips the thesis upside down. The world is completely different. Sometimes there are reverse versions of characters like friends or mentors in the Antithesis. Act Three Is the Synthesis. What the hero had in Thesis, she combines with what she learned from the B story in the Antithesis and is in a new merging of the two worlds.

40 Cards

These three acts can be broken up into the fifteen beats of Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet. That Beat Sheet is then fleshed out across forty index cards, which the writer uses to maintain an overview of the film’s plot while crafting the script. There are four rows of ten. Act One contains ten cards, Act Two contains twenty cards and Act Three contains the final ten. Act Two is broken in the middle by the Midpoint.

Midpoint And Act Breaks

Blake’s first step, before even laying out the beats, is to ask what the Midpoint is. The midpoint is a mirror of the ending. If the ending of the film is a victory, then the Midpoint is a false victory. If the ending of the film is a defeat, then the Midpoint is a false defeat. False versions of the ending make it simpler for the author to include reverses in the plot, as it’s built in to the process. If you’ve been following along with this site, then you will already know your ending from Orson Scott Card’s MICE Quotient method. Mirroring it in your midpoint is direct. On the board of forty cards, the Midpoint ends row two.

The first row of ten cards, Act One, ends in the first plot point. This is the act break leading into Act II. This is when and how the protagonist voluntarily leaves his thesis world, and enters the upside down world.

The third row of ten cards ends in Plot Point II. This is the beginning of the synthesis of the thesis and antithesis worlds. This is the Act Break that moves the story into the final act.

The final row is, of course, Act 3, and ends with the final image of the film.

So how do we build all of this? With the fifteen beats of the blake Snyder Beat Sheet.

READ MORE ...about Building The Beat Sheet