The Three Story Method Influencer Series: Aristotle
In the first of this special 5-part series, Zach and J. examine Poetics by Aristotle and how those ideas have influenced modern storytelling. In addition, Zach asks J. how he incorporated Aristotle’s ideas in Three Story Method and the ways they apply to novelists.
Aristotle’s Poetics (Greek: Περὶ ποιητικῆς; Latin: De Poetica; c. 335 BC) is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory. In it, Aristotle offers an account of what he calls “poetry” (a term that derives from a classical Greek term, ποιητής, that means “poet; author; maker” and in this context includes verse drama – comedy, tragedy, and the satyr play – as well as lyric poetry and epic poetry). They are similar in the fact that they are all imitations but different in the three ways that Aristotle describes:
- Differences in music rhythm, harmony, meter and melody.
- Difference of goodness in the characters.
- Difference in how the narrative is presented: telling a story or acting it out.
In examining its “first principles”, Aristotle finds two: 1) imitation and 2) genres and other concepts by which that of truth is applied/revealed in the poesis. His analysis of tragedy constitutes the core of the discussion. Although Aristotle’s Poetics is universally acknowledged in the Western critical tradition, “almost every detail about his seminal work has aroused divergent opinions”. The work was lost to the Western world for a long time. It was available in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance only through a Latin translation of an Arabic version written by Averroes.
The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- How J. rediscovered Aristotle
- What elements of Poetics applies to writers
- The significance of “three”
- Why Aristotle was a plotter
- The six core elements of Three Story Method
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Leave us a comment: What questions do you have about Aristotle and Three Story Method?
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8 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 111 – The Three Story Method Influencer Series: Aristotle”
Morning guys. Fascinating show today. Aristotle was a smart guy even if he did help stall the advancement of Astrophysics by a thousand years.
I love the idea that stories are simple.
Diction could refer to the narrative techniques Homer used like repeated phrases and formulae such as the preparation for a feast, and his repeated line mirroring technique (I can’t remember if it has a name). He used these as pauses in the story so he could gather his thoughts before the next section because his stories were designed to be told orally. Genre is a good analogy because it is has tropes which are similar things.
Totally agree about the importance of theme; without it stories can be shallow.
Did you know your book already has a song? 🎵”Three is a magic number…”🎵
Your “leave us a comment” on this page asks for how one handles criticism and feedback.
To answer your real question, my question is Did Aristotle say anything about “deus ex machina” endings?
I enjoyed today’s show. Sounds like your book is going to be good and I’m looking forward to reading it.
Thanks, buddy. Three is a magic number 😉
I tend to overlook the “leave us a comment” line in the show notes so thanks for catching that!
Great episode! Serendipitous too, since I was going to ask on the next Patreon Q&A about the new book. 🙂
I’m going to love this series of episodes, because I just spent time during the second half of last year rereading every book you mentioned. Crazy coincidence! I’m looking forward to hearing more of your insights. I’ve studied the Hero’s Journey for the past ten years and even wrote a long (like 50 pages) article about how it’s used in the Harry Potter series. I’m a total story nerd. 😉 And, yeah, things coming in three, or multiples of three, is everywhere.
My understanding of Diction is that it’s how you craft your language–word choice, narrative device, etc.
Thanks! These influences are so important and shaped so much of how we tell stories today 🙂
Guys, did I miss something or not pay attention, or:
Have you not ever said just what the heck you mean by “Three Story Method” ?
I’ve listened to every episode, I’m on all your mailing lists, and every time it’s mentioned I think “Now is when they’ll say what that phrase means!”
This episode, billed as an intro to the book, I thought, “For sure, this time they explain the term!”
All the talk of three acts to a story, three parts to a scene, three three three…
But no mention of what it means to (I’m guessing) write a book with a method that combines three stories.
Maybe that’s the sales strategy: “To understand the title, you must buy the book!”
Hey Paul! I’m assuming you mean the title and not the concept 😉 Either way, stick around. The next 3-5 episodes will reveal more. And yes, we do hope everyone out there is curious enough to buy the book. We all want to sell our books, right? LOL!
I figure it is too late to get an answer in this week’s recording, but if J is constantly adjusting this book and you both are using it in your writing has there been any gaps in terms of oh we don’t do it that way any more? Or is 99 percent of this in the pre planning stage and so once you are writing the book it is the same as it always is?
Why go back to Aristotle? Just cause he is the first in writing about it? Like while the 3 part structure is still what we use today wouldn’t a more modern dive into it be more effective for a modern audience?
Good question. Not really because as you said, this is mostly pre-production. What I keep adjusting are the nuggets I find in research. The process itself hasn’t changed all that much.
I think Aristotle was one of the first and I love the simplicity of his work. If it’s modern enough for Aaron Sorkin, it’s modern enough for me 🙂