The Rule of Three in Writing and Life

The Rule of Three in Writing and Life

The Rule of Three in Writing and Life

There is power in the number three. Julius Caesar didn’t ask only friends and Romans to lend him their ears.  It wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful without the countrymen. And don’t ever just stop and drop when your clothes are on fire. You better Stop, Drop, and Roll. When you’re running a quick errand to the convenient store, it’s not just a hop and skip away.  It’s a hop, skip, and a jump. You get it.

Think about the rule of three in children’s literature.  How many bears did Goldilocks intrude upon? (And seriously, should we be encouraging breaking and entering?) I’m sure you remember how many little pigs wanted to avoid that wolf. Oh, and the wolf himself threatened to huff, puff, and blow the house down. He wouldn’t have gotten very far even with the straw house if he just huffed and puffed.

In a lot of  picture books, you’ll find that  the main character has to try three times before she solves the problem. Ellen Rothberg and I used the rule of three in our South Pasture Series.Even as we chopped, sliced, and diced (see?) Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets for our ten-year anniversary reissue, we made sure that there were still three attempts at solving the problem before the resolution. photo

That’s all well and good in literature, but what does the rule of three have to do with life? The internet is filled with life hacks using the rule of three. Three basic questions, three guiding principles, etc. I try to think in threes when I want to get something done. A really productive day for me would be to work out, revise a manuscript, and submit a manuscript. Okay, so thinking in threes and actually doing it are totally different things. I can think all I want, but in all honesty, that scenario doesn’t always happen. Or often happen. Or ever happen. But I can dream, plan, and set goals, and maybe some day I will actually accomplish what I set out to do.

As we enter the Independence Day holiday, I wish you health, happiness, and laughter as well as sunscreen, bug spray, and a place to keep cool.

Happy Fourth!



1 Comment

  • by Cathey Nickell Posted September 25, 2016 6:51 pm

    I love this blog, Ellen! I learned a lot (well, at least 3 things!) from it. Thank for taking time to write it. Kudos!

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