Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Rule of Three

People ask me "Where do you get your ideas?" and my usual answer is, "In the shower. Or while I'm walking the dog."

There's something about relatively brainless activity that frees up the portion of your brain that's buried under the focus of whatever task you're doing at the moment. Other writers tell me this is true for them as well.

So today I was walking Yofi and thinking about The Rule of Three. This is a writing tip I picked up from Diana Gabaldon, based on her experience penning Scrooge McDuck comics: If you want to set something up for a joke, or a memorable scene, do it three times. For example, in Smuggler's Bride I have the line "Don't insult my mama" twice, and on the third time it's part of a pivotal scene that, I believe, makes that scene more memorable.

In my WIP, tentatively titled A Pirate's Treasure, there's something about the hero's eyepatch. At this point, I've already mentioned it more than three times. I'm trying to decide now if I want to pare back those references, or leave them in and expand that running plot device. At the moment, I'm in the middle of what may turn out to be a sex scene, and the issue of the hero's eyepatch may play a role in the outcome of the scene.

Yes, no kink is too weird for me!

So we'll see. Or not, depending on whether you wear an eyepatch.


Beth said...

Re the rule of three--I did that, too, in "Dragon's Eye," with the phrase "all the colors of flame and gold." The third time occurs at the end, where it takes on new significance.

Funny thing is, I didn't plan that. It just happened. But (as I once noted in my blog) maybe it's because I just happen to think in threes.

L said...

Number three and hawt pirate eye patches for the win!

I'm still looking to find A Smuggler's Bride. =(

Darlene Marshall said...

Smuggler's Bride can be found at Amazon, here:

and at Amber Quill Press, in paper and ebook, here:

It's also in ebook at

And I'm still working on that eye patch riff.[g]