“omne trium perfectum”

The Latin phrase, ‘omne trium perfectum’ means that everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete.


The Rule of Threes can be found everywhere in storytelling: The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Musketeers and many, many more and it’s very effective in the famous proverb popularized by William Edward Hickson (January 7, 1803 – March 22, 1870), commonly known as W. E. Hickson, a British educational writer.

“‘Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try, try again.”

Why does this matter? Because the rule of threes speaks to the heart and art of writing. Whether it be three attempts to overcome an obstacle or three adjectives, verbs or nouns, consecutively joined together to create rhythm,  there is power in threes.

As a PB writer I’ve studied this incessantly and found that unless you are writing a concept book, adding the rule of threes is highly effective. When your main character is struggling, a series of three often builds the tension creating suspense, doubt, and struggle, which often leads to that poignant moment where he/she finally undergoes a change and achieves resolution. However, the try/fail, try/fail, try/fail rule of threes is not the only way to apply threes.

There many clever uses of the rule of threes in Mice Skating by Annie Silvestro:

“It made her brave.
It made her bold.
It made her bloom!”

Then when Lucy attempts to skate…

“She slipped.
she slid

And since Lucy has three friends, every time she asks them to skate with her, the rule of threes keeps the rhythm flowing.

It’s a great read and an even better mentor text if you’re trying to use the rule of threes. (and why wouldn’t you?)

According to Marcello, whose cheese puns are hilarious, just like winter, this book is “so goud-a.”

to appeal to the engineer in me, I had to include other fascinating facts about the remarkable number 3!

According to Pythagoras and the Pythagorean school, the number 3, which they called triad, is the noblest of all digits, as it is the only number to equal the sum of all the terms below it, and the only number whose sum with those below equals the product of them and itself.

A natural number is divisible by three if the sum of its digits in base 10 is divisible by 3. For example, the number 21 is divisible by three and the sum of its digits is 2 + 1 = 3.

Three is approximately π (actually closer to 3.14159) when doing rapid engineering guesses or estimates. The same is true if one wants a rough-and-ready estimate of e, which is actually approximately 2.71828.

 And now as a mom of three perfect kids, I have to agree, three is perfect!