The Rule of Three in Writing

by @AnnieDaylon

The Rule of Three in WritingHave you noticed the prevalence of threes in writing?

I was reminded of it last week during a beginning course in photography when the instructor explained the rule of thirds in the composition of a picture. Instantly, I thought of creating a blog post about the rule of three in writing (defined by Wikipedia as a principle that suggests that threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying or more effective than other numbers of things.)

When a smattering of research on my part revealed an abundance of readily-available info, I chose to share rather than reinvent. What follows are posts (three, of course) related to the rule of three in the writing of speeches, blogs, and stories.


1. How to Use the “Rule of Three” to Create Engaging Content by Brian Clark
“…Think in terms of three when crafting your content, and you’ll likely end up with a more engaging outcome. If at first you don’t succeed, remember—the third time’s the charm…” Read More

2. How to Use the Rule of Three in Your Speeches by Andrew Dlugan 
“The rule of three is powerful speech-writing technique that you should learn, practice, and master.
Using the Rule of Three allows you to express concepts more completely, emphasize your points, and increase the memorability of your message.
That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.What is the rule of three? What are some famous examples? How do you use it in speeches?”  Read More

 3. Omne Trium Perfectum by L.G. Smith
“Omne trium perfectum! No, it’s not an incantation lifted from Harry Potter, but it could be considered a magic spell for crafting effective stories. Literally it means everything that comes in threes is perfect. In writing it is referred to as the Rule of Three.” Read More

Many thanks to bloggers Brian Clark, Andrew Dlugan, and L.G Smith.shutterstock_48236599

My favorite post from above?
As a lover of Latin, I have to tell the the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The third one’s a charm. 🙂

Latin Textbook Series, Grade 7-11

Amo, amas, amat… From my past: three Latin textbooks that have been in my library for more than three decades.

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Self-Publishing a Story Collection? 6 Tips!

shutterstock_163750679 (2) story collection

by @AnnieDaylon

Are you about to publish a collection of your short stories? I have done that once and am considering a second. Here are six suggestions based on hindsight:

  1. Go for a ‘sense of book.’ Group stories around one theme, one character, one setting. My first collection is varied: most of its stories were written, not with the idea of a book in mind, but for contests based on prompts. It was long after their completion that I chose a theme.

  2. Give thought to the title.

    Take time to examine your collection. Perhaps, as book title, you might choose the title of one story or the name of a place that is common to all stories. After I read through my stories, I realized there was indeed a thread: the choices we make and the paths we take. Thus the title: Passages.

  3. Consider, as title/subtitle, “a collection of short fiction,” not “a collection of short stories.”

    I used stories in the subtitle of Passages and wished I had used fiction, especially after I dropped a narrative poem into the mix. (Yes, I know: could have eliminated the poem. Sigh.)

  4. Acknowledge previous publications.

    List the stories that have been previously published, and include publisher, publication, and date of same. In Passages, in acknowledgements, I thanked creators, administrators, and judges of writing contests, and named a couple of specifics. There was no ill intent in my lack of a list of previous publications; I was simply unaware of the courtesy.

  5. Share background of story.

    Many of the short stories in Passages were written for contests. In retrospect, I could have enhanced the reader experience by writing a paragraph or two before each short, revealing the prompt or inspiration for the story.

  6. Give thought to the placement of stories.

    You might consider placing your best story first and your second-best last. I went a different route: I put an award-winning short story first because I wanted to draw attention to the fact that it had grown into an award-winning novel. As for the last story in Passages, it is a very short piece called Final Passage, a piece that is more than appropriate for its position in the book. The only thing I would have done differently with it is listed above: I would have revealed the inspiration for the piece.


    Why do I love story contests? Click on image to link to “Why Enter Story Contests.”

    Are these suggestions helpful to you? If  you have already published a book of short fiction, what were the steps that worked best for you? What, if anything,  would you do differently the next time?


    My best to you, Annie Signature Light Blue    

Dads: Tell Your Stories

by @AnnieDaylon

My father never sat still for a second. When he wasn’t at work, he was working around the house: building, painting, repairing. Now, although remarkably healthy for a man of ninety-two, he is physically incapable of creating the things he once could, such as the chaise longue in the picture below.

Dad built this when he was in his seventies. A beautiful piece, which I, as custodian, have given an honored place in my home.


A while back, I was trying to come up with an idea for a flash fiction contest. The premise? Write a complete, untitled story in fifty words or fewer without using the letter ‘e’.  I pondered it for a day or two. Then, as I was driving along a country road, I spotted a man on a ladder, re-painting the tired green trim on his two-story house.  That triggered a memory: something my brother had told me, something that my dad had told him. Dad’s words? “Last night I built a whole house in my head. Getting old is tough. Body can’t do the work.”

There it was, my story idea! But I couldn’t use the words house or head (no e’s allowed.) I also did not want to use the phrase last night because of word count limitations. I came up with a story and submitted it to an On the Premises mini contest; I edited the result slightly before including it in my short story collection, Passages. Here’s the final cut:

Today, I built a mansion, foundation to rooftop.
Laid floors, hung doors, put in windows.
Alas, no triumph.
Today, I built a mansion, but only in my mind.
My body is old, sagging. My hands? Arthritic claws.
I’m stuck, longing for past skills, biding my days…
waiting for God.

I treasure this short piece, not because it won any contest (not even short-listed) but because it is a candid portrayal of the inevitability of the life cycle. And, of course, because it was inspired by my father. Thanks, Dad.

To all the Dads out there: Keep talking, sharing, telling, building legacies…

shutterstock_132108815 (2)

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My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue