A land forged from the fires of strife, blood of heroes, and touch of the gods.
Where deeds of great valor, vile evils, and blazing passions intertwine
to shape the course of elven and human history within.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Power of Three

I was going to name this post "Three's a Charm" but it was just a bit too cliché. Regardless, the point of this post is exactly that; when critical issues arise in a story, and hero and villain engage (in whatever way they do so in your tale), the power of three can be found in many of these instances.
Encounter, conflict, resolution. This is how the major storyline goes, and mini-encounters along the way that make up the bulk of the plot follow suit more often than not. Oh, occasionally a subplot will be resolved in one or two tries, but the really big stuff, the showdown between the computer hacker and the IT wizard, the special ops soldier and the terrorist, the Champion and the evil dark lord... These major encounters will be fought to their ultimate conclusion in usually the perfect number for such events; three.
Three is just right for readers, not too short, not too lengthy, just enough to keep your breathless attention and make you turn the page.
Now understand; the resolution by threes doesn't have to take place all at once; it can happen over the course of the entire story. Usually the initial event is somewhere toward the end of the first third of the tale; a sub-climax if you will, that serves to drive the hero (and the reader) onward with dogged resolution. The second may result in the loss of someone or something close to the hero, and give the tactical advantage to the bad guy(s). Again, the purpose is to keep the hero pursuing truth and right and good... and keep the reader reading. Then, at last, comes to final conflict and resolution of the story, but if the author is really sharp, he won't just give in to the hero's will. It will be tougher than the first encounters combined and may actually be a bittersweet victory in many ways. My feeling has always been, for every victory there is sacrifice, and any author worth his keyboard won't let the hero off easy.
Three builds the tension perfectly; encounter, conflict, resolution, as said before. No wasted energy, no long, drawn-out efforts, but the perfect number in which to pack all the necessary emotions and action a good story needs.

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