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.


White-hot writing–not worrying about plot or characters, just letting the story flow–now that is fun!

At some point, however, that flashover of creativity has to be restrained.  We need to impose order on chaotic thought.

Your Guiding Decision is to determine your PLOT.

Two considerations when dealing with plot are type and method.


The Booker Prize people claimed that—for all the stories in the world, from the most ancient myth to the most disaffected absurdist modern—only seven basic plots exist.

Seven.  7.  Nyah, can’t be.

Let’s try it.

  1. Overcoming the MonsterBeowulf, Jaws, Lord of the Flies, King Lear, Alien, Fried Green Tomatoes, Atonement
  2. Rags to RichesCinderella, Aladdin, Oliver Twist, Great Gatsby, Prince and the Pauper, Good Deeds, Pretty Woman
  3. The QuestOdyssey, Watership Down, Raising Arizona, Willow, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Avatar, Pride and Prejudice
  4. Comedy: anything by Aristophanes, anything by the Marx Brothers, Airplane, The Blues Brothers, Animal House, A Walk in the Woods, Arsenic and Old Lace, Bringing Up Baby
  5. TragedyOedipus, Macbeth, Rebel without a Cause, Frances, Philadelphia, Cool Hand Luke, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
  6. RebirthSleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Now Voyager, Summertime, Avatar, Persuasion
  7. Voyage and Return: Peter Rabbit, The Hobbit, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Brideshead Revisited, Mansfield Park, Great Expectations, The Tempest

Whaddya know?  The Booker Prize people are right.  Whether concrete or abstract, real or metaphorical, all sorts of stories do fit these seven categories.

Methods for Plotting

Method 1

Every school unfortunately teaches simplistic plot, otherwise known as Freytag’s Pyramid, which can look like the graphic at the left.

The unfortunate truth is that stories are not simple pyramids.

For Kurt Vonnegut, his stories go straight down.

Method 2 . . . .

The continuation of this original blog post from  20 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.