The Rule Of Three

the sentence

Yes…everybody is a critic. But you have to have a thick skin. Especially if you are a new writer, like me. I don’t have enough experience under my belt to tell somebody that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. “What do you mean, I can’t write? I have one short story published!” doesn’t sound all that impressive. And besides, they might be right!

But just because Saint Peter tells me that I should change that love scene in chapter six, should I run home and rewrite? If it means the difference between getting into and NOT getting into Heaven, I probably should. But I don’t really have to worry about that, just yet. So how do I know who I should listen to and who I should just give a nod of my head and a polite smile?

For this puzzling dilemma our twisted little writing group uses the rule of three. It’s simple. If only one person has a problem with your main character exposing himself to a group of nuns in the opening paragraph, don’t get all bent out of shape and delete it. But if at least three readers say it that they don’t think it should be there, you might want to take a good look at it. I’m just using this scene as an example, of course. I actually can’t imagine anyone having a problem with it. As a matter of fact, the more I think about it the more I love the idea of one of my characters exposing himself to a group of nuns. Maybe not in the first paragraph, but very soon after that. I know there’s that whole Saint Peter’s thing to worry about but I’m a, “cross that bridge when I come to it,” kind of guy.

In the end, though, it’s still up to the writer to decide whether he or she wants to change something. After all, it’s your baby and you’re going to love it no matter what. But if you want the rest of the world to come over and pinch its little cheeks you might want to think about changing that diaper.

And really, don’t we all want other people to feel as warm and fuzzy about what we’ve written as we do? I know I do. I want them to enjoy it. And yes, I want them to buy it, too. Now the question is, will they buy a novel where the main character exposes himself to a group of nuns? In the first paragraph? I’ve just got to work this scene into a story.

11 responses to “The Rule Of Three

  1. Oh god, Joe, I’m crying. That was awesome. I’m still giggling over the whole nun scene…go for it! Just don’t put it in Jenny or AJ might hurt you. Heeheehee!

  2. Joe, you are living up to our Twisted moniker with that nun scene.

  3. Oh Jess! What did you do? You went and gave me an idea!
    “George saw the little church sitting by itself in the open field as though it had been dropped there accidently. He pulled back the throttle and released pressure on the control stick, allowing the yellow biplane to lose altitude. He approached the little building. George noticed at least a dozen nuns; their black and white habits standing out starkly against the dry, brown earth. He flew even lower and began to circle the tiny church. He removed his hand from the throttle and reached down to begin unzipping his…..”
    Oh yeah! we’ve got something here!

  4. Sanford Begley

    It all started when I flashed the nuns from the convent of Saint Angelicas. No I didn’t do it intentionally but the dog had my pants.

  5. Your post had me rolling this morning. But so help me… If anyone is going to be flashing nuns, it should be Tommy, not George.

    You guys are incorrigible, truly lol.

  6. Mm. I would also say to take a look at whether the readers are “target market”. For some people “libertarian gun porn” is icky. For others, it’s the whole point.

  7. Mm. I would also say to take a look at whether the readers are “target market”. For some people “libertarian gun porn” is icky. For others, it’s the whole point.

    In the end, you’re the writer and you have to make the judgement call on what’s right for your story. Multiple readers having the same reaction is certainly a warning flag but you make the final call.

  8. “….the dog had my pants.”
    Sure. If I had a nickel for every time I heard THAT excuse…

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