The Rule of Three
There’s Something Inherently Powerful About Groups Of Three Things.
Here’s A Clever Little Writing Tool That Will Make Your Writing More Powerful, More Persuasive… And More Fun
Want to learn an easy little trick to make your marketing more potent, powerful, and persuasive?
Hint: I just used it in that first sentence—did you notice it?
And no, I’m not talking about the use of the letter ‘p’. I also used it in the header for this article. It’s a grammatical device known as a “tricolon;” also sometimes known as the “Rule of Three.”
A tricolon (pl. tricola) is a writing device with three clearly defined parts of (usually) equal length, usually independent clauses, and of increasing power. They allow you to express your points more completely, emphasize your points better, and increase the memorability of your message. Oops, I did it again.
You don’t have to look very far in history and popular culture to find tricola; they’re practically everywhere:
“Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” (Abraham Lincoln)
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost
“We came, we saw, we kicked its (butt).” (Ghostbusters)
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your ears.” (Shakespeare, From Julius Caesar)
I went back to some recent articles I have written and found these examples:
“Seek opportunities to genuinely encourage, genuinely compliment, and genuinely praise.”
“Suburbans, he went on to hyperbolize, have bad crash ratings; they flip over, catch on fire, and on occasion—he let it slip—they even behead passengers.”
“He started sending fun things like shocking cigarette lighters, remote controlled flatulence machines, and fake lottery tickets.”
Why does the rule of three work so well? The honest answer is I don’t know. But work it does.
There’s something about three things that makes your communication more powerful. It hammers your point more forcefully. It drives the impression deeper into the brain. See, another one.
So what about you? Need some pep in your writing step? Then find a way to inject some tricolon action into your ads, brochures, and websites. Feature one in a headline. Drop one in a bullet list.
Work on into the text of the ad. You’ll find that your writing feels more powerful, complete, and compelling.
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