A trilogy is a group of three related artistic events. They can be novels, plays, films, operas, or albums. Well known trilogies include:
Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings wherein the author claims the main theme is death and immortality.
The Greek Aeschylean trilogy’s theme starts with vengeful murders and ends replacing revenge with a call for civil justice.
Trilogies are based on the power of the Rule of Three. Three is the smallest number in a pattern. The Rule of Three has been used in many of history’s most powerful ideas: “Veni, vidi, vici.” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”) Julius Caesar.
“Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.“ (“Liberty. Equality. Fraternity.”) France’s national motto.
“Citius, Altius, Fortius.” (Swifter, higher, stronger”) The Olympic sloganIn literature, three allows the writer to set the theme, create tension and provide the solution. Seven years ago I wanted to shift from nonfiction where I’d written a dozen books, to fiction which I hoped would open the door to a new readership.
When searching for a powerful format I turned to the trilogy. My first attempt was the Mike and Grace Series. In Book One a young naval intelligence officer and an extraordinary Chinese woman meet and fall in love. But circumstances block them from marriage and separate them periodically. At the end of the book they meet again. In Book Two they come together as a team with romance and international espionage. In Book Three they are thrown into a situation that forces them to choose between family benefit and honor. That book has been unfinished until now as I pondered the conflict of family versus honor.
One year ago an idea came into my subconscious to write about an American writer and an Irish business woman with a theme based on family life. Book One opens in Boston with the young man’s tragic loss of job, house, wife and baby. He’s invited to Ireland by a friend named Padraig Shanahan, offering a job opportunity. There he meets a woman four years his junior. Book Two is filled with their business and personal relationship struggles dealing with outside characters who embezzle, betray and attempt murder. Despite the challenges they come together, announce their engagement and at theend of the book, they marry. Book Three, which I am now finishing, is uniting other characters inside and outside the circle to round out a large Shanahan family.
I’ve learned how the Rule of Three can be the foundation of good story telling.