Three is a magic number. Everyone agrees. De La Soul, and Schoolhouse Rock, and especially the magnificent Jeff Buckley. There were three little pigs, and three stooges, and in Creative Writing there’s something called The Rule of Threes: by some strange (possibly Satanic) magic, ‘three of something’ is always better, funnier, smarter, more convincing than two or four of something. (An Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman, for instance… or some other trio of lazily-concoted cultural stereotypes). There’s even a Latin phrase singing its praises: ‘omne trium perfectum’ (everything that comes in threes is perfect: whoever coined that phase clearly never got to watch The Three Amigos. Or the third Matrix film). If you wanna go all religious about it, there is of course the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Or if, like me, you like your trinities a little less holy: Father Bear, Mother Bear, Baby Bear and their beds, chairs, and porridges of differing softness, solidity, and temperature. If there’d only been Mother and Baby Bear, and there’d only been two kinds of choices it wouldn’t – it just wouldn’t – have had the same gravitas, somehow. (NB. No comment intended on single parents. Because single parents rock.) And four choices? Well, that would be ALL KINDS OF WRONG.
Why am I running on at such no doubt delightful length about things that come in threes? Well, this is, of course, Day Three of the 2014 NaNoWriMo challenge, in which I am participating. So that’s one good reason.
The other is the structure of The Book I’m writing. I’ve gone for a trilogy, after many long, tedious months spent arsing around: in the process of arsing, I’ve learnt all the multitudinous ways I can’t write and won’t write (i.e. in a ‘simple’ three or five act structure… although there ain’t nothing simple about writing a novel. This I have also learned.) What suits me best is something with a little quirk, I think. A book with its fancy pants on – date pants, you might say – with hand stitched lace and one of the tiny twee ribbons the lingerie industry just loves to stick on women’s knick-knacks. So what I have now – in place of a more conventional narrative arc – is a trilogy of linked stories, each one set twenty years before the last. And perhaps there are comfier, better pants in the world, but those pants don’t suit me. (Metaphorically, speaking. The real me: comfy pants all the way.) I can’t be normal, or conventional, or something I’m not. So I’ve given in to the oddity of the structure, and two fingers (yes, two, not three) to my inner editor who’s doubting I can really bring it off.
But my inner editor needs to get with the programme. Omne trium perfectum, right? Everything that comes in threes is perfect. I can’t go wrong.
Today’s word count: 1731. (1042 of those words written in a 20 minute word sprint at our local NaNo write-in.) The plot thickens…