Why you should embrace the magic of three

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about the magic of three….

From the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, to the children’s rhyme three blind mice, to the expression ‘ready, set, go’ the magic of three has worked its way into our language and culture.

A list of three items feels complete and persuasive and just right. (Do you see? I did it again.) A recent blog post on the magic of three, by the SmartBlogger website, goes into great detail about what it describes as the rule of three.

The post gives the history of the device (with lots of examples from TV, government, religion and other sources) and even some examples from speeches. I particularly liked the way the authors identified several literary devices that either depend on or benefit from the magic of three:

  • Tricolon
  • Hendiatris
  • Alliteration

I also appreciated the way they suggested jazzing up headlines with the magic of three — in three different ways, of course:

Triple Your Power with Three Nouns, Verbs or Adjectives.

  • 7 Psychological Tricks for Turning Fleeting Visitors into Loyal Fans
  • How to Find Your Passion, Discover Your Strengths, and Rule the World
  • 6 Stunning Visuals That Will Make Your Content Memorable, Shareable, and Beautiful

Clinch the Click with Alliteration.

  • 801+ Power Words That Pack a Punch and Convert like Crazy
  • 10 Simple Twitter Tactics That Will Get You More Traffic Today
  • 9 Surefire Strategies for Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness

Entice with Intrigue By Mirroring a “3-Act Story” in Your Headline.

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  • On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas
  • The Snowboard, The Subdural Hematoma, and The Secret of Life

These sample headlines reminded me that I’d written about the magic of three myself, way back in 2009. My headline? Thoughts on the peacock and the magic of three.

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