The Power of…

Un – Deux – Trois

Uno – Dos – Tres

Uno – Due – Tre


I’m writing about the power of three for several reasons:

1. I am delving into the subject and need to share what I’m finding.

2. I want others to share what they already know and help me understand it better.

3. I have no idea what my third reason is, but I feel compelled to have one. It feels incomplete if I don’t!

Maybe you’re laughing at number three a little – b/c you’ve felt the same way before!

Think about it… we use the power of three everyday.

 “I’m going to count to three and everyone better be in BED! One – two – three… did you hear me? I said THREE!”

And what about stoplights? THREE phases. RED-YELLOW-GREEN.

Children use it on the playground, too…but they don’t always realize it. “Ready, set, go!” (do you hear it? 1-2-3!)

There are three acts in many stories (and plays, of course!). There are three main characters. Three “chances” to get it right. Three – three- three!

BUT… I’ve noticed many examples are actually stories with the power of three PLUS one. Have you noticed this? or am I just looking too deeply? Consider the examples below:

GOLDILOCKS and the THREE BEARS. That’s three plus one!

Cinderella AND the three members of her family (Stepmom and two sisters) — That’s THREE PLUS ONE.

What about the The Three little pigs story? We are leaving out the wolf! That’s THREE plus ONE.

COURTESY OF MORGUE FILEThe story of the three pigs is NOTHING without the wolf! He huffs…and he puffs… and puffs and huffs… and huffs and, well, you get the picture. (Have extra time? Read this version of the classic tale and see if you can find how many times the power of THREE is used:

In the Bible, there are numerous stories with the power of three (and three plus one).  I am a believer in the truth of the Bible and find it very cool that the stories are written this way. They speak to us on a level that grabs us and holds on!

Three special gifts are listed for the baby Jesus. (Three gifts PLUS one Baby)

Jesus had 12 disciples (a multiple of three) BUT only three are described as his closest friends. (Three disciples PLUS Jesus)

In the creation story, we read about Adam, Eve, the serpent and of course, GOD. (Three PLUS One)

Jonah is told by God to go to Ninevah. After this, there are several times the power of three is seen in this story.

  • Jonah runs! He catches a ship to Joppa
  • God sends a storm, Jonah is thrown overboard.
  • Jonah is swallowed whole by a giant fish (or whale, depending on your translation)


  • Jonah stays in the belly of the beast for THREE DAYS
  • He repents
  • The beast hurls and Jonah lands on dry land near Ninevah


  • Jonah shares God’s message with the people. 
  • Then he leaves them and waits on a hill for God’s judgment to fall
  • He pouts b/c God forgives the people instead of destrying them

 On the THIRD day Jesus rose from the dead. – (Pretty straightforward! 🙂 )

Jesus asked Peter THREE times if he loves him. (John 21: 15-19)

The examples go on and on!

Like I said…I’m learning. I’m digging in deep. I want to understand why I seem to gravitate toward writing in threes (and sometimes three PLUS one) in my stories. I want to know how to harness this fabulous tool and use it in a way that benefits my stories and those reading them.

So, it’s your turn…

Does the “power of three” show up in your writing? Do you use it consciously? Or is it a natural type of cadence as you create those stories?

(Did you see how I did that? Three questions. I couldn’t help it.)

Donna Earnhardt lives and breathes and washes clothes in Concord NC. She also homeschools her girls, writes every chance she gets and works with the Write2ignite conference team. (BTW, no threes were hurt in the production of this post or the original posting of it on her own blog –