F.I.R.E and I.C.E.

Every character in a scene, story, or vignette needs I.C.E., which stands for intensity, conflict, and emotion.

Rachel Ballon Freidman, Breathing Life into your Characters

All readers have experienced lovable, endearing, memorable characters in their favorite books… How many without heart have we forgotten? The goal of this technique, created by author Rachel Ballon Freidman, is to touch the reader in a way that causes laughing, crying, rage… To induce empathy. No matter how well structured your novel is without emotional characters, it will be forgotten. Use I.C.E. to inject emotion and F.I.R.E. to inject heat.

  • Fear your characters
  • Identify with your characters
  • Root your characters
  • Empathize with your characters
  • Intensity
  • Conflict
  • Emotions

F.I.R.E and I.C.E. combined:

  • desperate goal = intensity
  • more obstacles = conflict
  • inner desire = emotion


Foot at a Time

I heard the steep uphill climb near the end of the trail to be challengingly dreadful and it brought the intensity to a peak to approach by the narrow ledge after a half day’s climb up a winding switchback. Looking down, you can appreciate the view, but the thousand some odd foot drop would kill you in seconds flat if you were to misstep. Dizzily, I wiped the drenching sweet off of my brow and reached for my canteen.

“Drat! My canteen is empty!”, I said wearily.

” I think there’s a stream near the top of the climb, at least if memory serves me correct.”, said the scoutmaster with enthusiasm.

“Hey, look! There’re chains bolted into the slope.”, said a scout with relief.

“Yeah. There seems to be a lot of footholds too.”, said an even more relieved scout as he started the ascent.

“I hardly need to be a Dahl’s Sheep to make this climb.” said another scout.

As I began my climb, I refused to look down as I feared my vertigo kicking in… I just put one foot in front of the other… One foot in front of the other. I looked up and seen the top, and realized I was almost halfway to the top… One foot in front of the other. Then it happened… I stepped on a loose stone and it crumbled under my weight. Grabbing the chain with white knuckles, I heard the skittering stone fall to its death below me, and couldn’t help but wonder if the chains would hold my weight, or if they were set in weak stone.

One foot in front of the other… I thought of the stream and the cool refreshing mountain water gushing over my head and started up the slope again…One foot in front of the other. Before I knew it, I had made it to the top, a little paler faced and flushed, but relieved to have not sunken like a stone.

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