Friday, April 20, 2012

The Power of Three

The fourth post in my "Writing a Novel Series", which details my experience writing 151, will cover my extensive use of "The Power of Three".

Three is a magic number. It seems to be a number of completeness. Stories have three parts: a beginning, middle, and end. Movie franchises are usually built on Trilogies, three films in a series. Something about that numer seems to make everything feel satisfying—not too little, and not too much, either. And so, I would use "The Power of Three" in my novel in several ways:

Three Books in the Series
I knew right away that I wanted 151 to not only be a stand-alone story, but also the beginning of a larger series. I envisioned three books in total, with this novel being the first. As I began writing a high-level outline for the story of this novel, I continued to produce two more high-level outlines, for books two and three, so that I would have an idea of where the larger story was heading.

Three Parts in Each Book
I also wanted to maintain the three-act structure—beginning, middle, and end—within each book as well. Each outline was thus sectioned into three Parts. The first would catapult the story into its beginning and set up the rest of the tale. The second would carry it through to the deepest and darkest depths of the story. Finally, the third part would bring it all together in a thrilling conclusion. This is how I wanted each book to read.

Three Acts in Each Part
Finally, I even wanted each of the three Parts in each Book to feel like self-contained stories of their own. Each Part, then, was split into three Acts—again, a beginning, middle, and end. Through this, each book would thus have three sub-stories that each weave together into the larger story of the novel, which in turn weaves together with the larger story of the series.

Ultimately, I used "The Power of Three" to map out a series outline that I based closely on the Original Star Wars Trilogy: Star Wars (beginning), The Empire Strikes Back (middle, darkest depths), and Return of the Jedi (end).

Stay tuned for the next post in this series!