Friday, April 12, 2013

The Rule of Three in Writing

How familiar are you with The Rule of Three? 

  • A stylistic device based on the concept that three is a pleasing number with a satisfying beat and rhythm. 

  • People are also thought to remember things longer when presented in a series of three. 

  • Three just has more impact!

Who can argue with...

Hickory, Dickory, Dock
Ready, Aim, Fire!
Me, Myself, and I
Reading, Writing and Arithmatic
Curly, Larry and Moe
Three Blind Mice 
Three Wise Men
 Harry, Ron and Hermoine
The Three Musketeers (do you know their names?) 

The Rule of Three technique works. It makes for memorable copy and memorable quotes!

" Just- do-it. " -Nike

Three Act Structure (Beginning, Middle and End)

 "There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened."
 - Mary Kay Ash 

"Friends, Romans, countrymen. Lend me your ears." Mark Antony.

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."The Declaration of Independence

Government of the people, by the people, for the people." The Gettysburg Address

"Veni, Vidi, Vici." Julius Caesar

  "The first time is happenstance. The second time....
 is coincidence. The third time is enemy action."Ian Fleming, Goldfinger.

Movies and Literature Use the Rule of Three

Charles Dickens´ A Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Three Days of the Condor

 Aladdin: The Genie of the lamp grants three wishes

 Dorothy had to tap her heels three times in The Wizard of Oz. "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home."


Other, techniques for the rule of three that you can implement in your writing  to make your prose more powerful include:

1. Subtly creating credibility for a future scene with foreshadowing
2. Emphasizing a story arc
3. Creating story symbols

4. Three times for emphasis-repetition and adjectives

Michael Hauge discusses this in his DVD Creating Powerful Movie Scenes. “Foreshadowing is giving credibility to a character’s actions or abilities by justifying them earlier (in the story)."

Utilizing the rule of three creates credibility. The example used in the DVD is The Karate Kid

1. Mr Miyagi is seen using the ‘crane kick’
2. Then Daniel practices the ‘crane kick’. 
3. Later in the movie’s defining moment, ‘the crane kick" is how Daniel wins the match (with an injured knee). 

In Oklahoma Reunion, I use the rule of three  to emphasize Kait and Ryan's relationship arc through a comparison to the the sugar maple tree in her yard:

1. Page 36 The huge sugar maple near the street was barren of leaves, the naked branches dead and the bark peeling. It would have to be cut down which meant one more problem to solve, one more thing to do and much too much to think about.

2Page 166 “The pruning is pretty much done. I just have to rent a chainsaw and cut down that dead sugar maple by the curb.”

 Kait turned, her alarmed gaze meeting his. “Oh, not the maple.”

“No?” he asked.

“You said it just needed a good pruning and some TLC and it would  be fine.” Her lower lip trembled as she spoke.

3.  Page 208 “What? You mean the sugar maple? Yeah, I noticed. Won’t know for sure until spring, but it looks like that tree is going to make it.” He smiled.

I utilized three in my latest release from Love Inspired, Mending the Doctor’s Heart . But I don't want to give too much away.My goal was to emphasize and lay a foundation for a symbol of love with the car that Ben drives. His Land Rover. 

Once you start thinking about three, you see it everywhere...

tall, dark and handsome

“thinner, lighter, and faster”-iPad2 Steve Jobs

three guesses

body, mind and spirit 

Share your thoughts on the Rule of Three or give us some examples of three!

Today we've got 3 giveaways for 3 winners. 

1. Michael Hauge's DVD-  Creating Powerful Movie Scenes
2. Tina Racliffe's April release, Mending the Doctor's Heart
3. A critique of the first 3 chapters of your romance (max 50 pages).


Playground Monitor said...

Athos, Porthos and Aramis.


Melissa Jagears said...

Um, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!!

Helen Gray said...

I have 3 kids. Does that count? :)

No? Then how about The Three Little Pigs and the Three Little Kittens.

There's coffee, tea, and Cokes in preparation for morning. :)


Melissa Jagears said...

I was so intent on posting the Original 3! That I didn't see we could sign up for a 3 chapter crit! Sign me up please. :)

But truly, I think the Trinity is most responsible for the awesomeness of three--it's something we long for and recognize as awesome even if we don't know why.

Helen Gray said...

Publishers issue a lot of three book series.

Playground Monitor said...

Didn't get any writing done. I have a study group at church on Thursday nights and we eat beforehand. My boss let us off work an hour early because the county west of us was under a tornado warning and it was headed our way. Well... I live west of work, so heading home was out of the question since I'd be driving right into it.

So I went to the church. The pastor was already there getting dinner ready. About 15-20 minutes later the storm sirens for our county went off and we headed to an interior room. A bit after that, the power went off. We stayed in the room til the all-clear was given and then we went into the church kitchen, which has windows, and ate. While we were eating we heard a power pole had come down on the street where the church is. Turns out it was between our church and the Episcopal church next door. Yowza! I saw footage on the news and the neighbor church had a small tree trunk driven through their church van. Double yowza!

A local weather person thinks it may have been a small tornado or a microburst. I'm just glad it wasn't worse than it was.

It's been a long day because we all woke up knowing this storm system had us in its sights. And after the devastation in April two years ago, everyone around here is really antsy about storms.

Welcome to springtime in the Tennessee Valley.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Ha!! Marilyn! Well done.

And their side kick was....?

Connie Queen said...

Me, myself, and I.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yeah! Melissa! The Holy TRINITY.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Coffee, Tea or Me?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Wow, too close, Marilyn.

Connie Queen said...

Go. Fight. Win.

3 Billy Goats Gruff.

3 stooges.

Connie Queen said...

Marilyn, I'm so glad ya'll didn't get any damage. How scary.

I've got to get ready for bed. I'm getting delirious.

On your mark. Get set. Go.

Helen Gray said...

Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.

Playground Monitor said...

Snickers? Almond Joy! No, I got it. Baby Ruth.

Seriously, D'Artagnan.

And yeah, way too close for comfort though we didn't realize it at the time. Just thought there was heavy rain and thunder. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.


Connie Queen said...

Sorry Tina,

I just noticed two of the things I listed you had already mentioned. Like I said, I'm delirious.

How about,

The red, white, and blue?

Keli Gwyn said...

I love triads!!!

Winken, Blinken, and Nod
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker

Tina Radcliffe said...

You guys are good!!!

Marianne Barkman said...

So busy checking outmwhosemhere I lost my train of thought.....three fold cord
Sun, moon and stars
His hers and theirs

Hoping for the book

Laura Russell said...

Congrats on next book. Right now I'm drawing a blank on a threesome- was thinking red, white, & blue, but Connie has that. So continuing with patriotic theme, maybe god, mother, & country.

Ruth Ann Dell said...

Super blog post, thank you Tina.

Like Melissa, the first threesome that came to my mind was the Trinity-Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Please put me in the draw for the dvd or critique.

Nancy Kimball said...

Wham. Bam. Thank you ma'am.

Bacon, eggs and toast.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Starter. Main Course. Dessert.

And please enter me for Tina's new read and the crit please!

Mary Connealy said...

The cowards never started.
The weak died on the way.
The strong settled the west.

Mary Connealy said...

A woman.
A woman who knew his name.
A woman who knew his name and wanted to kill him.
He’d never had much luck with women.

It's a three line set up and a punch line.

Mary Connealy said...

the lion, the witch and the Wardrobe

The Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Line

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (okay forget that one)

Three Little Pigs

Reading, Writing and 'Rithmatic

Tina Radcliffe said...

Okay, I like the Lion, the witch and the wardrobe. The four line poem I am not real sure about.

Jenny Blake said...

I was going to say Aramis, Porthos and Athos also. (one of my favourite movies)
There side kick was D'Artagnan.

The Three Amigos
3 periods of Ice hockey (I think)
I know when people write a sermon they are told to stick to 3 points.

Oh a 3 point turn.

Never give up.

3 leaf clover

would love to win the book.

did you mention Ready set go.
or traffic lights (red amber and green)

Cindy W. said...

The first that came to my mind was The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The second that came to mind was Snap, Crackle, Pop.

Coffee, Tea, or milk?
The Three Blind Mice.
Stand. By. Me.

Have a blessed day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Hallee Bridgeman said...

The Trinity is one I should have thought of even as I was reading. I'm blaming the sick 6-year-old who got up at 4.

The Three Musketeers.

Jess Keller said...

Okay...Melissa totally cheated with using the Trinity. can we compete with that???

1) Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub
2) Three little pigs
3) 3 proposals in Pride and Prejudice...wait....there's four...Darcy asked twice. grrr

Would love your book or the crit!

Jess Keller said...

Might I also submit the book Three Ninja it, I don't make this stuff up.

Jackie said...

I need caffeine, all I can think about is three meals a day. Morning, noon, and night.

Did you know antibiotics almost always used to be given three times a day? Lots of people were not compliant with 3 times a day, and now antibiotics come in strengths to give twice a day.

That really doesn't go with today's theme.

I'm getting my hot tea now.

Have a great day!

Jackie L.

Please add my name to the drawing. Thanks!

Jenny Blake said...

Im pain free (Those are the 3 words thats what I want to say and am almost)
what a difference a day makes. this time last night i was crying because of the pain and didn't sleep. tonight the pain is about a 1 and thats when I touch it or do certain things but compared to last night it feels great.

oh I have an old fashioned one.

when reading the paper mum use to check the
Hatch, Matched and dispatch section.

Edwina said...

Write, edit, write.
Edit, write, sell!

OK - so those are not the most popular, but they should be!

I would love to read Tina's book!

Kav said...

Three wishes -- no one is ever given just one or four or a dozen. They follow that rule of three in fairy tales too. There's always three challenges in a quest. that I think on it, lots of picture books I read to the kids at school have three major hurdles for the character to overcome. By jove, Tina, I think you're on to something!

Has anyone mentioned three strikes you're out.

Three ring circus.

Three's a crowd.

Oh -- Peter denying Christ three times before dawn.

And Jesus asked, "Peter do you love me?" three times before telling him to feed his sheep.

I'm going to be thinking in threes all day now! And hooray -- I'm home. Fierce winter storm including freezing rain today and they cancelled the school buses. I'm still supposed to go in to work but since a good day commute is two hours, I'm wimping out. Synopsis here I come!

Bridgett Henson said...

Melissa wins! Or rather God does. :)

I love threes.

Here's mine.

3 book series with 3 word titles

Whatever He Wants (Nov '12)
Whatever It Takes (July '13)
Whatever Is Done (Nov '13)

I know shameless plug. Sorry. :)

Rose said...

The rule of 3 is huge in children's writing.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!

HA! It's way too early for me.

Piper Huguley said...

Good Morning Seekerville,

I don't have three to mention, although I think this is such a useful post. It is helping me think as I revise, about how to include incidents in your WIP so that readers find them believable. Thanks Tina!

Praying that you remain pain-free, Jenny!

Since no one else has mentioned it yet, for me, ever since I read this post, Schoolhouse Rock has been playing in my mind....


Debra E. Marvin said...

I believe in this so much I have three children and three grandchildren...and I'm editing three books at once! Wait. that's not good.

red white and blue
legislative, executive and judicial
congress, senate, president
and I "second" (or make that third) my favorite:
Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

I've heard it said that we recall things easier if there are only three items. Try it with your grocery list. If you have to run in for three things you have a better chance of remembering them, than if it's five things...

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning TINA, Great prizes. Love all the examples of three.

I read something about three strands in a cord for strength? Think in the Bible somewhere. Need coffee. Not awake yet.

MARILYN, so glad you are all safe.
JENNY glad you're pain free today

Janet Dean said...

Fun post, Tina! Three Coins in a Fountain. Lock, Stock and Barrel. The good, the bad and the ugly. Matter is solid, liquid and vapor.

Tina, I loved how you compared the hero and heroine's relationship arc with the sugar maple in her yard! Wonderful way to show!

Important reminder, too, to foreshadow events in the book three times. I'm taking notes!

I'm fixing three egg omelets, Seekerville. Line up and select your three favorite ingredients from the bounty of choices.


Janet Dean said...

Jenny, so happy you're almost pain free!!!

Marilyn, not a fun way to spend the day after your birthday. thankful you and your community are okay.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Hurrah, Jenny!! Yes D'Artagnan.

Tina Radcliffe said...

OOh, yeah. Snap, Crackle, Pop and that ad verse must be fifty years old.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Gosh. Can tell all the mommies by the nursery songs. I forgot about some of them.

kaybee said...

Haven't checked in with you this week. Interesting week. Still waiting to hear on gall bladder, may be diabetic, and computer crashed. It's still under warratee (it better be, it's only three months old), but I lost a bunch of stuff including the manuscript for the sequel to "Trail." People are yelling at me about saving stuff, but how would I know a THREE MONTH OLD computer would crash? Fortunately I have hard copies, but I will have to retype everything. Hello, thumb drive. An agent I queried this past fall chose this week to ask for a partial! Fortunately again, I had "Trail" on disk and with a llittle sprucing up, it will do. God is faithful. I only had one meltdown, and that had nothing to do with gall bladder, diabetes or crashed computers. Go figure. I can't enter the drawing because I just won something, but I picked up "Mending the Doctor's Heart" and Missy's newest book at Walmart, where they are having a big push of Harlequin books, including Love Inspired. It is cold and wet in New England, and I am going to read through the weekend. I love you guys, let's hang out if anyone comes to Northern New England.
Kathy Bailey
Pre-pubbed in New Hampshire

Tina Radcliffe said...

I know, Kav. It's sort of addictive.

Three strikes!!! Good one.

Carol Moncado said...

Oh brother. You guys took all the good ones.


Three chapters in a proposal

Doctor in Petticoats
Wrangler in Petticoats
Sharpshooter in Petticoats

Three Kincaid Brothers
Three Daughters of Boston
Three Winds of Change
Three Cousins McClare
Three Horsemen dealies [heart etc]

Three Billy Goats Gruff

Supreme Court, Congress, President
Three parts to the impeachment process
Three levels of courts [district, circuit, Supreme]
Three levels of government [generally - local, state, federal]

Three Axis nations - Germany, Japan, Italy
Three Allied nations - US, Great Britain, Russia

Tom Linscott, Tom Linscott, Tom Linscott




Taxes, taxes and more taxes?
Back to the Future I, II, II
Die Hard I, II, III [because IV and V were dumb]
Star War trilogies x 3

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
[Crystal Skull was dumb and doesn't count]

Okay - that's enough - I have THREE girls to take to the eye doctor. And THREE errands to run at the same time ;).

I'm in for any prize. I'd LOVE for Tina to see what I've done with the last notes she gave me [well, maybe...] and go from there.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, Kathy Bailey!! What a week. Praying for you.

Congrats on the request, dear.

Carol Moncado said...

Kathy Bailey -

Get Dropbox. As long as you're online it backs everything up within seconds. You can sync it to other computers or download from "the cloud."

ALL of my writing stuff is in Dropbox.

kaybee said...

One more thing from Kathy Bailey:
Three is a good structural tool.
Loved Mary C's poem. As we all know, I am "obsessed with the West."

Tina Radcliffe said...

Carol you over compensator you!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Piper, yes. School House Rock is so huge. That's another song that will be running through my head all day.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Arrgh, I need to get Dropbox too.

Making a sticky note. Thanks for the reminder.

Piper Huguley said...

Just to say I want in on the cool prizes too, and to second what Carol says:

Dropbox rules.


Carol Moncado said...

If anyone needs help setting up Dropbox - holler. It took me a bit to figure out when I first got it because you have to save everything where it wants you to :). But after that, easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Mary Connealy said...

The standard rhythm of joke telling, especially in sit coms and stand up comedy is:
Set up
Set up

Straight line
Straight line

watch a sit com sometime with that in mind and it's just relentless

Cindy Regnier said...

My Three Sons - wasn't that a wonderful show? (If you watched it you're as old as me) Anyway, I have three sons. Hip Hip Hooray - three cheers for the boys. Could really use that 3 chapter critique on #3 of my three book series.

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL, Cindy R. I refuse to comment on My Three Sons because it will certainly incriminate me.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Gold, silver precious stones...
wood, hay, stubble...

Or *ahem* May on the Way, May Finds a Way, May Leads the Way??

This is WAY fun, Tina.

What an excellent, excellent keeper post! Thank you! Can't wait to read your latest!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Melissa J, AGREED!!! (12:07AM comment)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...


So glad you're okay. Here on the plateau (in middle TN for those not from 'round here) we had watches but no warnings and all is well...

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...


and DVD please.
Would love a critique but don't write romance. ;)

Carol Moncado said...

Oo Ooo ooo!

Gold Frankensince and Myrrh

[Yeah, that middle one's spelled wrong - deal with it ;)]

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL Carol. Good one albeit spelled incorrectly and dealing with it.

Helen Gray said...

The three wise men.

Stand up, speak up, shut up.

And our books must have a beginning, middle, and end.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, this is so stinkin' savvy and true! The number three... the Holy Trinity... The original Star Wars...


Three rocks.

This is, was and always will be.

I am now enlightened. And hungry for snickerdoodles.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Helen, I have six kids

2 X 3 = 6

6 * 3 = 2

I think factors of three are fairly worthy!!!

Prairie Hills Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization said...

Scarlett O'Hara was married 3 times... :-)

Tina's book? A critique? How awesome would it be to win those?!

Walt Mussell said...

How about "and rose again on the third day"?

I'm definitely in, though I have Tina's book already (so I'm out for that).

This comes from Walt, who took his 11-y.o. to the emergency room on Monday evening, getting home at 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday. He was felled Wednesday evening by the same bug and is now able to sit up this morning.

Bridgett Henson said...

Me, myself, and I.

Forgot to say enter me for the critique.

THis is too fun!

Boy 7 (and his Mom) said...

Posted under the wrong profile...

Scarlett O'Hara was married 3 times... :-)

Tina's book? A critique? How awesome would it be to win those?!

Cathy Shouse said...

I'm joining too late to read back over all of these comments. Has anyone said "Signed, Sealed, Delivered--I'm yours?" LOL

How about "The third time's the charm?"

I'd love to win a critique, or any of the other prizes--namely, Tina's latest. And I remember your Oklahoma story, Tina. Lovely!

Boy 7 (and his Mom) said...

Okay...this is frustrating...I guess my blogger profile needs to match my email address...( - Boy 7 and his mom, PHE PTO)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Scarlett O'Hara was married 3 times... :-)

hahaha, Julie will love this.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, it's you, Jenny Beardsley. Hi there. Good to SEEE you. LOL.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Cathy Shouse, you are first on those I believe. Way to go.

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, you are so generous with your giveaways! Thank you!

Love Hauge! Love Radcliffe! Love the Rule of Threes!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Walt!! Felled by a bug? Viral or physical bug??? Praying!

Debby Giusti said...

Walt, hope all are healthy today. So sorry!

Blame it on the pollen! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Good, Better, Best.

Did someone already mention that?

Melanie Dickerson said...

The Trinity. Trilogies. Phil, Si, and Willie.

Okay, forget that last one.

This is fun, Tina. And foreshadowing is one of my favorite plot devices. Great post! I love it when you make me think. Because let's face it; I'm lazy.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hi, Marilyn! I didn't get any work done either, and I'm blaming the storm too! My kids got out of school early, so that was the end of writing for the day.

CatMom said...

Loved, loved, loved this post, Tina (*notice I wrote "loved" 3 times) - and ditto Helen's comment about having 3 children! And I am the youngest of 3 daughters (of course I love reminding my sisters that I'm the "baby" *smile*.

~ I confess all the ones I was about to mention are already posted here (most important*** THE HOLY TRINITY).

~ So in honor of "threes" today, I've brought 3 desserts-- Peach shortcake, Pecan sticky buns, and Pecan Praline Pie. Enjoy!! ~ Hugs, Patti Jo

Tina Radcliffe said...

Patti Jo. You get a free pass today for bringing ALL that food. YUM!

Glynna Kaye said...

Excellent, Tina! There IS IS IS so much power in 3's. And why eat only ONE square of dark chocolate when you can have THREE? :)

Jeanne T said...

Nancy, Jo and Bess (the Nancy Drew series trio of friends).

Three days in the grave--from when Jesus died and rose again

Han, Leia and Luke (yes, we're in a Star Wars phase in the Takenaka house).

Loved this Tina. I'd love to be in the drawings, but not for your critique--as much as I love them (Really, I DO!). I don't have a romance for ya. :)

Janet Dean said...

Walt, glad you're sitting up!

Kathy, sorry about those health issues and the computer crash!!


Tina Radcliffe said...

Yes, three Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt in the hand is worth one on the store shelf.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Three really is the divine number and it is called the perfect number.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Tina,

I LOVE 3's and the number 3! Most of the good examples are gone, but here is an interesting one... Did you know that the most powerful angel numbers are 333! And numbers in any combination of 3 are powerful, ex. 444, 777. So even the angels are aware of this phenomenon!

I just put your book in my bag this morning to take to work with me. But I'd love to be in the draw for the other two!

KAV - we are having the same weather in Ontario. (You're out west, aren't you?)

MARILYN - how scary! Glad you were with other church members and that everyone was all right!

JENNY - so happy your pain is better! Hope it lasts!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Tina Radcliffe said...

What does that mean, angel numbers? I have never heard of that?

DebH said...

This post is awesome!

In graphics, there's the rule of thirds for more dynamic visuals in pictures. Don't place anything smack dab in the middle because that bores people. Place objects of focus in one of the thirds sections.

I believe the power of three is because of our Triune God. We are made in His Image, so it makes sense the power of three is so strong. It's His way of drawing us to Him. well... at least that's the take-away i got from the post and comments.

i am definitely going to use this to check my storylines when things aren't working.

keeper, keeper, keeper post.

wish i had something for Tina to crit, but alas... i do not. would love to be in the draw for the book though...

heading to the inLaws this weekend so they can bask in the love of Guppy (our three year old). PopPop and Grammy need some lovin' from the little guy - it's been a tough three weeks for them. no 'net access 'til monday afternoon.

have I mentioned lately how much I love Seekerville? this community ROCKS!

DebH said...

p.s. Jenny

i'm glad your pain is less. i've also been praying that your trip to the US will be blessed and everything you're hoping it to be.

Walt Mussell said...

Janet, I had redeye gravy this morning, so I think I'm doing better.

Walt Mussell said...

To go along with today's theme, I just posted a picture (on the Seekerville FB page) of three wonderful Seekerville authors currently on sale now.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I didn't know that about photos, DebH. Thanks. And thinking of you this weekend.

Myra Johnson said...

Great post, Tina--and look at all the comments already!

My TWO daughters (did I stop too soon???) each have THREE kids.

I am the third child in my family of three siblings.

There's definitely a rhythm in threes. It feels complete, somehow. Two isn't enough, sometimes four is too much.

Or sometimes I'll use a group of three in one paragraph, and then go to a new one-liner paragraph for the fourth, really BIG statement.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Awe, thanks Walt.

Mary Connealy said...

a triangle


Pepper said...

Love this reminder!
And I love the concept of 3 in novels. Oooh, in the ms I'm editing, I've done that and didn't even REALIZE it!
3 letters = WOW!
Harry, Hermoine, Ron :-)

And in both of my Middle Reader Fantasies = The Book of Beginnings and Journey to the Center of the School, both have 3 main characters.
1. The heart character
2. The head character
3. The funny character :-)

Mary Connealy said...

Never, Sometimes, Always

Good, Better, Best

Faith, Hope and Charity

Three strikes and you're out.

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, thanks so much for talking about this. I LOVE using the rule of 3!! I try to do it in every book. :)

Elaine Manders said...

Sorry I can't think of another 3. I was up all night because if I'm going to be blown away by a tornado I want to be awake, but I got some writing done. Nothing but rain and lightening, thank the Lord.

Walt, you're the first guy I've ever known who reads romance. yah, I knew there had to be one. Just kidding. I've read a couple of romances written by a guy.

Put me in for Tina's book and the critique.

I thought of a 3: Colton, Kaitlyn and Jesse. Don't know them? It's a shame. They're my grandchildren and they're adorable.

ginger said...

Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan made four.

I read that book 6 times between the ages of 13 and 14. The huge thick version and sealed Alexander Dumas right to be my favorite author for all time :)

Excellent post. Got my noggin thinking :)

Lisa Jordan said...

I never thought of the concept of 3 until reading this brilliant post. Thanks for sharing it.

As a romance writer and a Christian, the three types of love come to mind: Eros, Philos, Agape.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Elaine, I was thinking of the James Gang...Jesse...

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oooh, I like it Lisa Jordan.

Carol Moncado said...

See no evil
Hear no evil
Speak no evil

[And I ended up with two girls at the eye doc - one got changed to next month...]

I also already have Tina's book. But I picked up Janet's :D.

I had something else.

I don't remember what it was.

But there's three kinds of chocolate in Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Therapy.

[I think]

Tina Radcliffe said...


Tina Radcliffe said...

Hi, Ginger. Yes. It really does get you thinking doesn't it. LOL.

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, yes--great pic, Missy! You are gorgeous!

Mary Cline said...

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Death happens in threes....

Three Kings of Orient...

Every Nora Roberts trilogy of women....

Three strikes...

Three's company... wait, it's a crowd.... Forget the company part.

Three Coins in a Fountain

past present and future

Three stages of matter: Gas, Liquid, Solid

Faith, Hope, Love

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Three Stooges

Huey, Dewey and Louie

Lord of the Rings


Beth's having a third kid.... And it/he/she might look like me.

God's reply: Yes, No, or Laughter

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Three meals a day... Oh, now I'm hungry.

Lyndee H said...

Abigail Bean, Zoe Zobird, and Pippa.

Lisa Jordan said...

Here's one I've used about a billion times today...

Use. Your. Words.

Mary Connealy said...

I know publishers really like three book series. Not four. Not two. Sure there are exceptions but the REALLY like three.

Mary Connealy said...

When we talk about three characters, like the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges or Harry, Hermoines and seems like there's always a leader.
I picture a triangle, with the leader at the front and two sidekicks.
James T. Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy.
Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia

In a trilogy of books that's a little different because the hero/heroine couple of each book come to the fore and often the earlier or later hero/heroine pairs drop to supporting characters.

Like if Star Wars had been Luke's story
The Empire Strikes Back had been Hans' story
Princess Leia's story was Return of the Jedi
But that's not how it was. They were all strong but Luke Skywalker was always the lead character with spunky Leia and smart mouth gunslinger Han as strong supporting characters.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well,Mary, you are right.

Road trip. Tina, Ruthy and Mary. Who is the ringleader???????

Tina Radcliffe said...

You all are triple jazzed aren't you??

Mary Connealy said...

I'm not sure if there's a ringleader, but then our road trip isn't going to lead to the Millenium Falcon and a Death Star either. (hopefully!)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yeah, for the safety of the universe, I hope not too, Connealy.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Abigail Bean, Zoe Zobird, and Pippa.??????

Lyndee who is this???

Tina Radcliffe said...

Wait,it must be your little doggies.

Boy 7 (and his Mom) said...

And how about these 3 little words:

Happily ever after!

Jeanne T said...

How about the Lord of the Rings Trilogy? You have Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli (not counting the hobbits, of course).

Loved this Tina, and the comments and three's everyone has come up with are fuuunnn to read!

Tina Radcliffe said...




These three little words.

I. Love. You.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Love those trilogies.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Just posted this on Facebook.

Did you know that Winston Churchill took THREE years to pass 8th grade. Ironic that later he was asked to be commencement speaker at Oxford where he gave the shortest commencement speech on record. "Never give up!" Never give up!" "Never give up!"

That would be three words said three times.

Tina Radcliffe said...

And what about...


Carol Moncado said...

I'm hoping to see 3 Seekers on my way home from Florida.

"Debby and Missy" in Atlanta is penciled in.

And Julie if we end up going through her town. That one's less likely :/.

As long as hubs doesn't change the route on me...

Three Toy Story movies.

As long as they do it well, I want a fourth.

Three Madagascars was plenty.
So was three Santa Clauses.

There's also now three JAG spinoffs - NCIS, NCIS LA, and some new one called NCIS RED or something for next year.

Three CSIs.

Three different Disney channels [Disney, Disney XD, Disney Junior].

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yeah. Carol, you little mom, you.

I didn't know NCIS was a spin off of JAG? Or a copy cat show?

Pepper said...

3 gifts to the Christ child

Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King :-)

My oldest son, who is a Celtic historian (in his head), says the rule of 3 was emphasized in Celtic history and lore. They tried to make things fit in 3s or products of 3. He just finished reading a trilogy of Celtic fiction where each book at 39 chapters :-)

Pepper said...

Like minds...LOTR RULES!!!

Carol Moncado said...


Two episodes of JAG season... 8 I think introduced Gibbs, Abby, Ducky and maybe Tony? I don't remember as I haven't watched in a long time.

Two episodes of NCIS season... 8 also? introduced NCIS LA and one? ep of NCIS LA [which I don't watch] introduced the "Red team" or somesuch a few weeks ago.

Jenny Blake said...

in celebrations like after you play a game of hockey or something.
its Three cheers for (the other team, the umpires and us)
Also in a birthday Three cheers for the birthday girl.

third times a charm.

Cara Lynn James said...

I've never given much thought to the rule of 3, but I guess that's because I just take it for granted!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I thought of the Celtic rings, Pepper. Aren't they representative of the Trinity too?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well Carol! Now I'll have to try to find reruns of JAG. Thanks.

Tina Radcliffe said...


Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Fantastic post, Tina. I loved reading all the examples of 3's. So many. So I'm looking for someone to mention those three little words,I Love You, and no one did until Tina. Wouldn't you know it. Glad to hear Jennie's better and hope Walt is soon. Put me in for any of the prizes, please.

Carol Moncado said...

JAG season 8 eps 20/21 - Ice Queen and Meltdown.

Tina Radcliffe said...

:) Pat Jeannie!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Thank you, Carol!

Tina Radcliffe said...

KATHY BAILEY!!! Thank you for buying my and Missy's book!!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

I think you should do a blog post about 9, Tina.

Also a fascinating number.

Debby Giusti said...

I got Mending the Doctor's Heart at Walmart today. YAY!!!

Wait, let me say it this way:


Debby Giusti said...

I bought Missy's too!

Looked for Ruthy's. Not on the shelf yet.

If only I could have had THREE Seeker books!

Debra E. Marvin said...

Oh for crying out loud. Carol YOU WIN. She has three names even.

Debby Giusti said...

Carol, I thought you weren't stopping in the A-T-L! Are you?

Hope you are...but we need info!

Tina Pinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina Pinson said...

I sometime mention a word three times if I really want the thought behind it to stick.

Maybe we use three because it can be lucky.
3 times is a charm.

Of course it can be bad like 3 strikes you're out.

And three can be crowded, like 3 on a couch or a third wheel

I was thinking of three coins in a fountain, not quite sure why... maybe for those three wishes.

There are several characters with three names too.

But I suspect the reason three is a good # to use is it's easy to remember 3 points. I like three point sermons (gets me out for lunch sooner)

Sign me up for the prizes. Considering the topic, do we win all three? LOL

Interesting post. Now I'm seeing threes (as opposed to dead people) ;-)

Thanks Tina

Playground Monitor said...

I took a workshop by Margie Lawson and she talks about the anaphora -- a series of three. In the synopsis I'm trying to write I used one: One look at Max, though, and her resolve to resist his charms wavers. Several more looks and she finds herself transported back seven years -- same lust, same attraction, same rocky situation.

And in other news, the National Weather Service has determined the storm I was in yesterday was indeed an EF1 tornado. Well, I can mark that one off my bucket list! LOL!


Chill N said...

Haven't read comments yet (look at all of them!) but has anyone mentioned 10, 2 and 4? Those were the numbers on the old Dr Pepper bottle ... supposedly for the times you should pause for a drink.

Okay, I'm thinking I just majorly dated myself there ...

Nancy C

Chill N said...

Cindy W. said...
The first that came to my mind was The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The second that came to mind was Snap, Crackle, Pop.

That is great. Simply great!

Nancy C

Chill N said...

Did anyone mention paper, scissors, rock?

Yes, yes, I'm stopping now ...

Nancy C

Tina Radcliffe said...

Rock, Scissors, Paper. Forgot that one and never heard of that and Dr. Pepper. But we didn't have DP on the East Coast. I didn't taste one till I moved to Tulsa.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oooh, Marilyn, what fun. You can write a story on that. Tornado Chasers.

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL. Debra Marvin.

And Mary Connealy you can do one on 9.

And Tina Pinson sees dead people???

Susan Anne Mason said...

Tina, sorry it took so long to answer your question. Was away all day.

Angel numbers are one of the ways angels communicate with us. Some others are finding pennies, finding feathers, rainbows, seeing shapes in clouds, hearing certain songs on the radio. Numbers is one of the most common ways to get our attention when we see the same ones over and over again. There's a book out on it - by Doreen Virtue.

Interesting stuff...

Oh, one more threesome.


THree cheers for Seekerville.


Audra Harders said...

What a hoot, Tina! Great post : )

ABC, 123, You and Me!

See Spot Run

On your mark, get set, go!

Time, treasure, talents

Cigars, cigarette, Tiparellos : )

Boy 7 (and his Mom) said...




(Always reminds me a little of "Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!"

-Jenny B...

Tina Radcliffe said...

I've never heard of this, Susan. Must check it out.

Carol Moncado said...

Debby -

I emailed you :).

I was watching Moneyball with hubs/2 kids earlier - and every time Brad Pitt said something in 3s, I thought of you, Tina... ;)

Julie Lessman said...

TINA!!! What an awful day for me to be late to your fun, fast, and furious blog -- all the threes are gone!!

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa!!!

That stinker Nancy C. took my first choice -- rock, scissors, paper -- the little brat!!

VENI, VIDI, VICI ... I came, I saw, I definitely did NOT conquer. (paraphrased)


Tina Radcliffe said...

So guess what's being watched at my house tonight?? Jag Season 1. Only 7 more to go.

Mary Preston said...

Books & movies often come out in trilogies.

I'd love to read MENDING THE DOCTOR'S HEART thank you.

Pepper said...

Yep, Tina. My favorite necklace to wear is my Celtic trinity knot. 3 triangles knotted together :-)

Sara Ella said...

Love triangles are a way to use the rule of three. Think Edward, Bella, and Jacob (Twilight) or Ky, Xander, and Cassia (Matched), or even Wanda, Kyle, and Jared (The Host). Is it obvious I have a thing for paranormal/futuristic romance? It still counts, right? lol:)

Rose Milligan said...

The 3 Furies.
The play, Dulcitius, is about the martyrdom of 3 holy virgins: Agape, Chionia, and Irena.
Baseball has 3 bases.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Hey, Rose and Sara! Thanks for chiming in.

Rose, love your profile pix.

PatriciaW said...

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

I'm sure someone already said Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla

My three sons (as in mine, not the TV show's' I'll forego the names)

Is this why publishers love series of three books?

What fun.