Storytelling Syllabus

Storytelling Syllabus

When the legendary French New Wave director François Truffaut was kicked out of school at the age of fourteen, he decided he would be self-taught. A lover of stories, he created two academic goals for himself: watch three movies a day and read three books a week.

During the summertime, while I am young and still granted such a vacation, I often think on Truffaut’s goal as something I should be doing as well. Oftentimes I set goals for all the movies I want to watch that year and list them off or all the books to read and become so excited while mutually overwhelmed. However, now that I dedicate quite a bit of my time to writing and telling my own stories, I’ve found I’ve lost the drive in me to consume other stories to the same extent and slowly have come to see them as a distraction.

But other people’s stories are not a distraction, but a necessity. And the great storytellers know this. As storytellers, we need breaks from our own work. It gives us time to freshen our minds and find solutions we cannot find in staring at a blank page, but also to study the craft without overworking our mind.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” -Stephen King

Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book, Outliers, how anyone who is at expert status in their field has spent 10,000 hours dedicating their time to that. Luckily for us, experiencing stories other people create counts towards that hour mark, otherwise I am not sure many writers would reach that 10,000 mark in a lifetime by writing alone – it’s so draining!

Given that notion, I have decided to create a storytelling syllabus that you may fill out and map to your liking depending on the free time you have. I suggest finding an emphasis or two to focus on every week – be it plays or novels – but also encourage you to explore new mediums and see how they inspire you. I have often found that my best ideas for one medium came from consuming a story in another medium. If you are unfamiliar with the greats in other mediums, hop on over to my list of newbie recommendations for a starting point.

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