The Rule of Three

I’m stewing over threes this week. They are everywhere. From Veni, Vidi, Vici to Stop, Look, and Listen. My husband and I each come from a family with three siblings.

The Government of the people, by the people, for the people. The good, the bad and the ugly. The One, Two, Three of the Waltz.

The Thee Stooges. The Three Little pigs. The three Musketeers.

The trinity.

The Rule of Three

There is even The Rule of Three, which states that in speaking, writing and music, ideas presented in threes are more interesting and easier to remember. In art, it’s called the rule of thirds. Artists place items in the intersections between thirds to draw more attention to their artwork. Experts say the first instance of something occurring can be just plain chance. The second time something occurs it’s a coincidence. And the third time? A pattern is perceived. And for some reason, the human brain likes patterns.

This June, I will attend a writing conference. Twelve people (and our teacher Lauren Winner) will all tackle each other’s forthcoming manuscripts. The WHOLE thing! That’s why I’m so hung up with threes. My next story is told in threes: My relationship with my father-in-law, his boyhood growing up in Nazi occupied Netherlands, his choice of euthanasia at the end of his life.

I’ve written 70,000 words. About 250 pages. It’s ordered like a waltz. I. 2. 3. Our Story, His boyhood WWII, Euthanasia.

Can I do this? Will a reader follow these three threads or get lost? How can I transition between threads lightly, seamlessly and with continuance?

I really dislike stories that jump from narrator to narrator. Bill’s point of view in Chapter One. Vivian’s point of view in the next chapter. Then Fido’s in the third. It drives me crazy, because it’s so bumpy. I just get used to one person and their voice and their story and they vanish.


So I’m writing everything from my own view point. That helps hold it together, I think. But the funny thing about writing, when it’s all done, it seems so EASY. But here I am, 90% done and I feel like I’m Goldilocks walking through the woods. The Three Bears are stalking me.

  • Too Big. Too Little. Just Right.
  • Too Hard. Too Soft. Just Right. 
  • Too Hot. Too Cold. Just Right. 

Writing is at times a mystery and a puzzle.

Sir Winston Churchill once said (concerning England’s fight WWII), “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

I have taken the liberty to change these words, to make them relevant to my writing.

“This is not the beginning.

It is not even the end of the beginning.

But it is, perhaps, the beginning of the end.” 

Wishing you all a great day, or as they say, Work, Rest, and Play.

Then work some more.

Jill Kandel
  • Ingrid Lochamire
    Posted at 18:37h, 20 March Reply

    Your witty take on all things three made me smile. I have no doubt I’ll muster up all my readership skills to follow your trio of stories centered around your father-in-law. I feel some slight “ownership” considering I was there when your book morphed into memoir. So very excited for your workshop opportunity! Lauren Winner, after all!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 20:40h, 20 March Reply

      Thank you, Ingrid!! YES! You were there when I changed the book from fiction to nonfiction, a complete shift in my thinking! I love going to workshops. Leslie’s was fantastic!!

  • lynn carol
    Posted at 21:48h, 20 March Reply

    you have a lot done, i am impressed. You will make it special, and i’m kind of glad you decided to go non-fiction. I love great non-fiction. Lynn

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 10:26h, 21 March Reply

      Hi Lynn, Thank you! I love non-fiction, too. I’m very happy with the decision not to write fiction. When I tried fiction, it didn’t seem authentic. This feels much better!!

  • Barbara Stark-Nemon
    Posted at 12:30h, 21 March Reply

    You came, you saw, and I’ll bet you conquered! Congrats on manuscript two- I’m right there with you- questions, concerns, fears!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 14:49h, 21 March Reply

      Ha, Ha, Ha!! That’s great, Barbara. You made me laugh. And give me courage to keep on! Thank you!!

  • Andrea
    Posted at 07:00h, 22 March Reply

    Hi Jill why is there a picture of 3 k’s and not one with you and your siblings?
    Nice blog… keeps my mind busy…. 3 is in the air!!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 09:03h, 22 March Reply

      You are right, Andrea!! I found an old photo of my family and inserted it into the post. Great idea!! I’m curious … does this rule of three exist in the Dutch Language, or is it something within English? Do you have common sayings that in some way repeat themselves three times?

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