Old Geeky Greeks:  

Write Stories using Ancient Techniques

Here’s a List for You ~

Blood tragedies.

public domain image, sketch may be viewed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
Perseus displaying Medusa’s head: sketch by John Singer Sargent for his 1902 sculpture


I, Robot.

Harry Potter.



The 13th Warrior.

The scariest woman in all literature.

The Hobbit.

Dudley Dooright.

5 Stages of the Hero . . . and the Monster.

Jurassic Park, in all its iterations.

What do the items in this oddly-matched list have in common?

These stories all have origins with the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Sitting around fires after a day of hunting and gathering, the first writers developed techniques to influence their audiences. 

Those techniques have thousands of years of use and still hold true for capturing audiences.

The ancient Greeks (and Romans) of classical antiquity viewed the stories and dramas that were enduring.  And just like writers today, they searched and defined and classified the best techniques to create writings that pleased their audiences.

These old geeky Greeks laid the foundations.  Many of their techniques are still in use. Ideas original to them are re-packaged as glittery infographics and Wham-Pow webinars and three-point seminars with exclusive insights to Buy Now!

Clear and Quick Information

Old Geeky Greeks: Write Stories with Ancient Techinques presents such ideas as the Blood Tragedy and dulce etutile in a clear, organized method for writers who want to write rather than invest hours getting three snippets of information.

Chapters in OGG cover understanding characters to the five stages that established the modern protagonist from the ancient hero.  Aristotle’s requirements for plot precede a survey of the oldest plot formula, the Blood (or Revenge) Tragedy.  Concepts such as in medias res and dulce et utile can help writers solve sticky problems and develop new ideas.

Old Geeky Greeks (and Romans) looked at successful plays and other story-telling methods to determine what influenced the audience.

  • Which characters were still talked about weeks and months after a performance?
  • Which play structures failed—and which were consistently winners?
  • And which ideas helped writers develop their celebrated writings?
Writers today are still searching for the answers to these questions.

The bright minds of Classical Antiquity first explored these questions.  Their answers are applicable even in the age of the internet, open-source software, special effects, and infographics.

Aristotle, Seneca, Plato, Horace, and many other ancient geeks have their ideas matched to Harry Potter, Avatar, Last of the Mohicans, and Shakespeare.

Whether we’re writing novels or plays, blogs or non-fiction, poems and songs, Old Geeky Greeks (written by M.A. Lee and Emily R. Dunn) is a seminar in 28,000 words, just published on Amazon Kindle.

Buy it here!

John Singer Sargent’s sketch for his sculpture of Perseus

with Medusa’s head, provides the cover art for OGG.


Challenge : Deadlines

NANOWRIMO, the National Novel Writing Month, is the internationally infamous writing challenge to churn out 50,000 words in a month, and writers do it with deadlines.

This yearly challenge is the opportunity to create a new life for ourselves, a writing life.  NANOWRIMO is a time to stop thinking of writing as a hobby and resolve to turn it into a profession, to create a New Advent.

WHO Needs to Participate?

The challenge provides a great exercise for all writers.  We should participate at least once in our writing life.  If we feel burned out, the white-hot drive of creativity will recharge us—after it drains us.  For the total newbies, NANOWRIMO forces us to work past what we think is our stopping point and teaches us how to do that.

This opportunity is especially helpful to writers stuck between hobby and job.  It’s not limited to fiction;  bloggers can benefit.  Through constant deadlines we must push to achieve, we learn self-discipline.  NANOWRIMO also touches on the many areas needed when writing stories.

WHERE to Start?

Consider these 4.

  1. Characters :: get to know the primaries. How are they going to collide?
  2. Situation :: understand the remote and near causes and effects of major events.
  3. Plot :: How will you pace the story? Many writers talk about scenes and segues or the III-Act structure.  Basically, you should know the start and the end and 5 twists between (Plot 7).  These will get you going.
  4. Research :: Special settings. Special elements (steam machines, zeppelins, etc).  Know how the things work.

If you haven’t done any of this, if you don’t even have a story prepped, just start writing and go.  As scenes develop, put them where they need to be in the sequence.  This sounds like the free-est possibility of all.  Make yourself have a deadline of the Plot 7 by the tenth of the month.

WHAT to Do?

The continuation of this original blog post from  10 November 2016 can be found in the publication Think Like a Writer: 7 Tips to Change a Hobby to a Profession, by M. A. Lee.