Tag Archives: Protagonist

Add the Power of Three to Your Writing

Thank you, Chiplanay with Pixabay for the use of the image!

Linda Andersen, writer of teacher guides for Cobblestones magazine, asked me, “What do you know about the rules of three in writing? I’ve heard that you have 3 things happen to the protagonist, and the fourth is the winner. I’ve also heard that two things happen to the protagonist and the third is the winning combination.”

I thought that might be a good thing to blog about. So I hope the following post and resources will inspire you to add the power of three to improve the rhythm and power of your writing.

I searched the internet to find out sources that explained the power of three.
Three is easy to remember. It sets up a pattern for the brain to remember easily. It has a rhythm to it. It gives a feeling of satisfaction.

A film that makes the use of the power of three is Pay It Forward (trailer to movie)

In the fairy tales, the use of three was indeed powerful to help remember the stories.
Three Little Pigs – Third pig had the winning combination to get rid of the wolf.
Three Billy Goats Gruff – Third goat outsmarted the troll under the bridge.
Rumplestilstskin Three guesses

Here are other sets of three:
Beginning Middle End
Ready Set Go
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

As a writer you might think:
three problems
sequences of three
conflicts in patterns of three
inner struggles in patterns of three
outer struggles in patterns of three
three weaknesses
three strengths
three powers
three foods
three characters to help
three characters to hinder

In comedy, they say two lines ordinary, and then the third line is the opposite of what you expect, leading you to laughter. Without the first two to set you up, the third one wouldn’t be as funny. Three definitely has the power in comedy.

Here’s my try at demonstrating this technique:
First man: My wife cooks a mean dish.
Second man: My wife cooks a meaner dish.
Third man: My wife is a mean dish.

I hope you enjoyed my humor here.

In case that didn’t explain it thoroughly enough, here is a link to Andrew Dlugan’s explanations of the power of three for humor as used in speeches. http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/humor-speech-rule-of-three/

The twists and turns in your story keep your readers interested. If you lead the reader with the first try – He’s sure it’s going to work. Tell 3 reasons why it’ll work. Have the antagonist or other characters to tell 3 reasons why it won’t work. This leaves the reader questioning who is right. Write the consequences different from these and worse than expected. It builds tension into your story. It puts questions in your readers’ minds. This is good. It’s what keeps your reader going to the next page. He wants to find out what happens.

Check out these resources:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_three_(writing)
2. http://www.copyblogger.com/rule-of-three/

Then read these resources

1.In another article, Andrew Dlugan explains in simple terms how to use the power of three in writing a speech.
2. http://www.jonathancrossfield.com/blog/2009/06/writing-the-power-of-three.html
3. http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/the-power-of-three/

I’ll send you on your way to your writing space with the following food for thought for your new novel:

Rules of 3 about surviving in the wilderness 

Urban Survival Site says:

You can survive:
three hours without shelter
three days without water
three weeks without food
three minutes without air
three seconds without hope.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please leave a question, comment, or resource.
I am honored to have 12 active subscribers.

Do three good things for yourself today! Thank you for reading my blog.

Joan Y. Edwards
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Y-Edwards-Author/111310278911077

I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog. Receive 2 free gifts. Join over 100 other subscribers and over 700,000 visitors. You’ll be sent an email to confirm your subscription. Thank you.


Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2010-2019 Joan Y. Edwards
Never Give Up

Joan Y. Edwards
Flip Flap Floodle Will this little duck’s song save him from Mr. Fox?
Joan’s Elder Care Guide A guide to help caregivers and elders find solutions.
80 Gospel-Based Crossword Puzzles for Year B Fun for Children’s Liturgy, Children’s Church, Sunday School, and Home Bible Study

Eight Character Archetypes to Emphasize the Conflict in Your Story

When I was looking for explanations of the Conflict Archetypes, I discovered that there are also Character Archetypes. We only discussed the usual protagonist and antagonist. It opened my eyes to see a description of these other six types of characters. I’m sure your mind will say, “Oh, yes. I know what she’s talking about.”

You can read the book called Dramatica: A New Theory of Story by Melanie Phillips and Chris Huntley. You can also read an excerpt from chapter 4 of the book at this webpage: http://storymind.com/dramatica/dramatica_theory_book/chapter_04.html

Eight different character archetypes to oppose each other’s way of thinking and acting. Donald Maass in his Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great suggests that each novel must have conflict on each page, in each scene. Thinking of the characters in your novel as serving the job for each of these will do just that. It will bring conflict to your story. These character archetypes will also move the plot along. They can add page turning events and decisions. They will add depth to your writing and reach the reader on different levels. It will explain your story emotionally, from the heart, from the mind, and show possible consequences. I see potential. It’s possible that you already have characters performing these jobs in your story.  See how good you are!

Protagonist/Antagonist Protagonist wants to start or stop something. Antagonist wants to stop the protagonist from reaching his goal at all costs.
Guardian/Contagonist Guardian character is the teacher/helper/mentor who eliminates obstacles and shows the good and the bad things on the path and how to make the best of the situation. The Contagonist character is one who puts things in the path of the protagonist to slow him down. He offers temptations that will keep the protagonist from focusing on the problem, thereby slowing down the chances of his success, but not stopping him. He can be the antagonists second in command to him. A diversion to keep the protagonist from working on the goal.
Sidekick/Skeptic Sidekick character is faithful supporter, has confidence in either the Protagonist or Antagonist. The Skeptic disbelieves and has no confidence in the one that the Sidekick supports.
Reason/Emotion Reason character makes decisions based only on logic. Reason has no heart. Emotion character is in a frenzy and makes decisions based only on emotions. Emotion uses heart.

The eight character archetypes above will get your wheels turning on how to add them to your picture books, short stories, chapter books, poems, or novels.

Since I’ve been introduced to these today, I’ve been thinking of stories where characters played these roles for the author in telling stories.
Lone Ranger’s Sidekick was Tonto in the Lone Ranger.
Yoda was Guardian of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
I’m sure you can think of others.

Please write a comment or ask a question below.

Have fun!
Enjoy living and writing!

Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright 2010 Joan Y. Edwards. All rights reserved.