M.I.C.E., found on Williamablan, is a way to categorize character motivations into Money, Ideology, Conscience and Ego. I’ve found that most motivators fall into these categories, and a way to humanize or villainize characters. For instance, money is not a consideration for Voldemort, but he has a strong ideology about killing muggle-borns to isolate the wizarding community from muggles. He hasn’t a conscience and an ego that enables him to feed off the weak.
I’ll use my own WIP, Stepdaddy’s Blood to further demonstrate how to use it. I found it helps to understand my characters, so maybe it’ll help others struggling to flesh out their characters.
Money- Allan is poor and wants to escape poverty, but isn’t looking for profit in this story. Pireto is teacher-poor but is content. Rusalka is well-off, but insecure.
Ideology- Allan idolizes Sherlock Holmes. (Don’t we all!) She believes in having an adventurous life, a like stimulating both physically and mentally. Pireto is a little lost; his greatest value is family yet he doesn’t know if he’ll have one. He has no great passion, but he wants a little more, something different. Rusalka is conservative minded; everything has to fit in.
Conscience- This is of little factor to Allan, she wants the right thing done, and often ends up doing it, but for other reasons. Pireto has a strong liberal conscience, and often acts as Allan’s conscience when hers is abnormal. He will give a generous amount of chances, but will be strict when it’s called for. Rusalka has a troubled/abnormal conscience; she thinks some bad things are for the good.
Ego- Allan has a strong, healthy ego. She correctly thinks herself a genius. (Her IQ is in the 150s) Pireto has a weak to no ego; he tends to put others first. Money is a bigger factor to Rusalka, but she thinks she has the right to do some immoral things; herself before others.