Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Page two, rule of threes

Just as personalities can be encoded with patterns even the person possessing the personality doesn’t realize, writing styles can, too.

Both of my superhero picture books, Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman and Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, take a similar approach on the second page: they use the rule of threes. (This is often associated with humor, but can be used in other ways as well.)

(The previous page teases that Jerry Siegel, Superman writer,  
was with his friends when at home rather than school; 
this page is the surprise reveal.)

The rule of threes in and of itself is not the pattern I’m pointing out—lots of writers use it, of course. The pattern is using the rule of threes on the second page. (Normally I would reserve the word “pattern” for three or more instances, but…okay, head starting to spin.)

I didn’t notice I’d repeated this tactic until after the second book was out. Because I didn’t do it consciously, I probably can’t explain it satisfactorily. It may be as simple as this: it’s a handy device to quicken the pace, which works especially well toward the beginning of a story because it tugs readers in via a rhythm.

Later in both books, I refer back to the threesome. In Boys of Steel, it reiterates the list
—twice, actually:

In Bill the Boy Wonder, I refer back less specifically:

Let’s see if I end up using the rule of threes on the second page a third time.

Head spinning faster now.

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