Writers: Don’t Forget the I.C.E.

iceIn her book Breathing Life Into Your Characters, Rachel Ballon says, “every character in a scene, story, or vignette needs I.C.E.”

Obviously, she’s not talking about the ice that forms when water freezes, but there is an interesting correlation there. For example, a great deal of energy is expended before water turns into ice. Energy must also be expended by the writer to create characters that have depth. If not, then you end up with characters who actually feel cold because they are as dull and lifeless as a corpse.

II is for I.C.E.

So, what is I.C.E.?

  • Intensity
  • Conflict
  • Emotions

According to Rachel Ballon, “you give your characters more intensity, conflict, and emotions by giving them a goal that they desperately have to reach. The more desperate the goal, the more intensity. The more opposition or obstacles that stand in the way, the more conflict. The greater the inner desire to reach the goal, the greater the emotions.”

When you mix the cocktail for your character, don’t forget the I.C.E. Serve them “on the rocks.” Shaken or stirred? That’s up to you, but I recommend both.

shaken and stirredBottoms up!


15 thoughts on “Writers: Don’t Forget the I.C.E.”

    1. I agree. I’m glad Rachel created the acronyms. They are a good tool for simplifying concepts so we can easily remember them. I used them when I was studying for the CPA exam (in my former career). Not sure I could’ve passed without them 🙂

  1. ICE – love it! I’m actually struggling right now with my protagonist’s drive. I think I’ve set up a pretty awesome world for her to inhabit, with lots of obstacles to overcome … but I haven’t yet figured out her drive. Since it’s sort of Hunger Games-y, the obvious one is survival, but I think there needs to be more than that under the surface.

    1. Oooh. Sounds interesting! MY WIP is a dystopian too so survival is also one of the goals, but there’s another goal that is really the heart of the story. Good luck with your story!

    1. It’s funny. When I’m checking out at the grocery store, the clerk always asks, “Do you need any ice (or stamps)?” Now, I always think of I.C.E. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

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