Diana Gabaldon – The Rule of Three
Writing the high stakes plot.
I’m a huge fan of best-selling author Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series. Part romance, part time travel, part historical fiction, these stories about the adventures of Jamie and Claire grab hold of readers and do … not … let … go.
Sometimes the plot is so intense, and the characters go through so much horror, that it’s hard not to wonder if it was really necessary for Gabaldon to go to such lengths.
I was pleased to find this post on Gabaldon’s website in which she explains the how and why of her method as “The Rule of Three”
Here’s an excerpt from that post:
One, two, three. The Rule of Three. It’s one of the important underlying patterns of story-telling; one event can be striking. The next (related) event creates resonance. But the third brings it home—WHAM. (That is, btw, why classic fairy tales always involve three brothers, three sisters, three fairies, etc.—and why the most classic form of joke always starts, “A priest, a minister and a rabbi…” The climax of the story, the punchline of the joke, always comes on the third iteration.) The third encounter with Black Jack Randall is the climax, the point where the stakes are highest. Jamie’s been captured and seriously hurt, Claire’s come to save him, but Randall turns up and takes her captive, threatening her life.
If you’re a writer who wants to increase the stakes of your novel, or if you’re a reader who loves Gabaldon’s stories and want to know how she does it, here’s a article worth your time. Read more of “Jamie and the Rule of Three.”