Is 3 a magic number? I’m not sure anymore. We learn from an early age that three is central in fairy tales, and later on we realise it is in folklore and mythology (and in religion), too.
We have Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Three Billy Goats Gruff, to give examples of fairy tales where there are three characters in a family.
Often we see a king with three daughters or three sons. Two of them are evil or lazy or whatever and the third one is the hero – e.g. Cinderella.
In other stories, the hero has to go through three trials. For example, in Rumpelstiltskin, the queen gets three tries to guess his name.
In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the stepmother tries to kill Snow White three times…and succeeds on the third try.
Norse mythology is the mythology I know best, and there we have three hard winters before Ragnarrök (end of the world). We have the Norns – the three goddesses of Destiny. Yggdrasil, the tree of life, has three roots, and so on.
We even see the number three in religion – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Jesus was visited by three kings when he was born.
So what could possibly go wrong with three?
Unless you believe in the whole Deaths come in threes thing, nothing right? My brain sure seems to think that three is the solution to everything…I just never get there.
I’ve somehow jinxed three.
A few days ago, I sent a story I wrote a year and a half ago to some of my beloved beta readers. It was meant to be the first of three. 1.5 year since I wrote it, and have I started writing the second story? No.
And I realised this is a pattern. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Blood on Sand – my DRitC story back in 2015. I had a plan. The first story was about Zoe and Wojtek, the second was meant to be about Taz and Satul, and the third about Tedor and Koray. I had a plan, I’ve written about 20k on a story about Taz and Satul, but it’s been years since I opened that document.
Then we have The Maddest of Men – I’ve written about Grayham and Creed. The next story, which I have made an outline for, was supposed to be about Lou and a meta, and the third about Kitt finding someone so he doesn’t have to pine for Cham for the rest of his life. So how many years since I released Lords of Lettuce? Three – a magic number LOL.
Then we have It Doesn’t Translate which is a Tattooed Corpse story and not supposed to be in a series of its own – but I still planned on writing – surprise, surprise – two more. Quam, and Xog since poor Quam is about to die, and Roach and Zall since I left poor Roach in the hands of the evil space pirates. Think of that poor sod! He’s been in their hands for two years now…at least it’s not three, right?
I have another story, a dystopic story, where the first draft is almost done (almost means untouched with just a couple of scenes left to write…and it’s been like that for over a year). There I have notes with vague ideas for a second and a third story in the series. You’d think I should focus on finish the first *sigh*.
And then we have Black Bird, the story that’s already been through a few rounds of beta reading and I’m just waiting on the final input. Black Bird is 1.5 years old, has been on all my to-do lists for just as long, and what is it about?? – three friends, one who finds his mate in this story. The other two are supposed to find love…in book two and three, that aren’t written, not even outlined.
Then we have Jaeger’s Lost and Found. I was meant to write more about Archibald, Edie, and Gael. I just couldn’t decide if I should continue the series with the same characters and make them ‘find things’ or if I should just keep the world and write about new characters. I do love their bookstore, though and the original plan was…yes, two more stories with Archie.
I’m beginning to doubt the magic of three.
Around New Year, I sat down to try to structure what I was to write next. I used to be good at this shit, I used to have a plan, and I used to follow it. I still have a plan, most of the time, I just don’t follow it. But, I decided that 2020 will be my clean-up year – I started with Scary Gary, and now Black Bird is on the way.
So what’s next? (I’m not gonna tell you about the story I started writing because it isn’t part of the plan – clean-up is not tossing a bear and a bat in an elevator, it’s not!)
I don’t know if this post made me any wiser, but it did make me remember something – I have a story, with notes from a beta reader, that’s a retelling of the Brother’s Grimm story The Three Snake Leaves. That document hasn’t been opened since 2015.
Perhaps I have a Chinese soul, and the number working for me is 8, not 3. Or maybe, I’m simply not meant to write series, I don’t know.
Do you prefer series or stand-alone stories??