The Return of the Story-King

a guide byLakshya Datta

Last week, I didn’t write my “weekly” guide (that’s the thing you’re reading right now). I couldn’t do it, mostly because it was a busy day, but truly because I didn’t have anything to write about.


See, I’ve been writing, but I haven’t been feeling anything new about storytelling. Whatever I did feel, I put it into the Storytalking With Lakshya episode from last week.


The thing is, I started this guide series to check in, once a week, on how my storytelling skills are developing, and in turn, see if you can find my learnings to be useful as you go along your storytelling journey.


But last week, I hit a rut. I found myself without much to write about. I was typing, but aimlessly.


And then it hit me. It was right there, all along, sitting in my bag for the past year.


Aristotle’s Poetics.


Seeing that little book, with it’s 100-odd pages, and unlimited knowledge on storytelling, I knew my next mission.


Starting this week, I’m committing myself to a schedule. Something I’ve never tried before. If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written or heard my podcast, you know I’ve only ever written something when I felt like it. And usually only at night. Or during vacations. Basically, unplanned and erratically. Well, that method wasn’t helping with my growth. And I do feel like I owe it to my readers and the larger Launchora community to up my game.


So, what is this new schedule?


Every day, I will do two things: learn, and write. The time slot will be 2 hours minimum, 6 hours max, with 4 hours being the average / goal.


What does learning mean?


I have the Masterclass subscription, which I haven’t been able to use much, so I’m upping my use of that. It has a lot of different storytellers - screenwriters, TV writers, novelists, comedians, nonfiction writers - so I don’t see myself running out of that material.

Besides that, any video or audio or text content that discusses writing techniques and styles, I will find it and study it.


Once that part is done - about 1-2 hours of it daily - I’ll start writing.


Writing what?


Well, there actually is a lot of stuff in my pending drawer - scripts for the ‘Play Me Life’ audio-play series, the ‘Dual Stories’ story, and a few other musings that I want to explore. And of course - I’m hoping to leave room for new stuff I come up with while I learn.


So, what does any of this have to do with the Guide or Aristotle?


Well, I’m glad you asked. I had almost forgotten to address that.


Aaron Sorkin, one of the greatest storytellers of our generation, believes that Aristotle’s Poetics in the bible for storytelling. It has all the rules, all the laws, all the learnings, and all the wisdom. It was written over 2,300 years ago and still is the best resource for storytellers, according to Sorkin. I trust his instinct and intellect, so I’ll believe him.


I read Poetics a long time ago, before I took storytelling too seriously.


Now, I am going to bring the King of storytelling back, to be my teacher along this new journey.


So here’s how that’s going to work…


Poetics has 26 super short chapters. Every week, I’ll write a new guide dealing with one or more things Aristotle shares in each chapter. Maybe, sometimes, one guide may not be enough for one chapter. Maybe, in other times, one guide may feature content from two chapters. Sometimes, I might even take a break and write a guide about something other than this book. I have no idea because I haven’t started yet.


The point is, for the rest of 2019, I’ll be breaking down the learnings embedded in Aristotle’s Poetics.


Let me the story-learning begin.


P.s. I think I’ll rename the guides that deal with Poetics as “Aristotle’s Guide” for the sake of continuity and consistency.


I’ll see you next week with Chapter 1.


Happy storytelling.

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