Writing with the Rule of Three

R = Rule

The Rule of Three is used in speaking, writing, and music.

Through the Rule of Three ideas are more interesting, enjoyable, funny, scary, memorable and more effective. The Rule of Three can create reader expectation, it can also intensify conflicts and help to hook the reader. From slogans, to nursery rhymes we see the principle of three are everywhere. And let’s not forget superstitions, “bad things come in threes.”

  • Stories have three parts: a beginning, middle and end
  • Trilogies: in films, books and plays
  • Screen writing: 3-act structure
  • Patterns: Three is the smallest number of elements to create a pattern
  • Classic joke structure: set-up, anticipation and punch line
  • A complete set: Salt, pepper and sugar
  • In Public Safety: “Stop, Look and Listen”
  • In religion: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

My A to Z serial flash continues:

Rachel stared at the distorted image flickering above the hot black asphalt, convinced there was no place hotter than Texas in August. Not even hell. She cranked the AC higher praying for relief and an end to this long road.

This morning she’d thought the trip a good idea, but now she just wanted it to end. She leaned over the steering wheel and peered through the windshield. Smoke now mingled with the shimmering heat, rising with the sun’s reflection. A loud clank shook the car and it came to an abrupt stop. 

“Shit,” Rachel yelled, “Shit, Shit.”

She flipped open her phone. No signal. Miles from her destination and no sound but the ticking of a dying motor.

Read more about writing with the Rule of Three:

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