Since this is an aspect of writing I find particularly intriguing, her last point caught me most and has stayed with me longest. Subconsciously, it was something I had recognized before; it appears in my own writing, both in themes and in foreshadowing. And, upon consideration, it makes sense. I have done several posts already on Sayers' The Mind of the Maker and won't bore you with yet another, but though I am not generally one for numerology or anything of that sort, it has occurred to me more and more since reading that book how often cycles of three do come into our writing. Perhaps a very bold parallel cannot be drawn, but I do think there is a sense in which writing is trinitarian - little surprise, since we are made in the image of God.
Anne Elisabeth's post and, more recently still, a reading of David Copperfield brought these thoughts out with greater clarity - for Dickens, consciously or not, was a master at conveying themes. I can think of two instances in the book that followed the trinitarian cycle, the first exactly, the second with some latitude. The first is when David tells his aunt how thoroughly he is in love with Dora, and Betsey Trotwood, knowing his foolishness, shakes her head and says, "Blind! blind! blind!" - which, of course, is also a repetition of three. It springs to David's mind again at the end of that chapter. It occurs for the third and last time when David, having lost Dora and being a little wiser now, realizes what he forfeited by his foolishness and recalls his aunt's words.
The second instance, I admit, is a little fuzzier. There is a moment when the reader is given a glimpse of Steerforth asleep, "with his head upon his arm," as he used to lie at school - this is really a second-time occurrence, since it evokes the memory of the school-days. It is brought home powerfully again after the shipwreck, when David is brought down to the beach and sees his old friend for the last time.
"But, he led me to the shore. And on that part of it where she and I had looked for shells, two children - on that part of it where some lighter fragments of the old boat, blown down last night, had been scattered - among the ruins of the home he had wronged - I saw him lying with his head upon his arm, as I had often seen him lie at school."
You don't like Steerforth, since he's a cad, and yet the way the scene is evoked and the repetition of that line still manage to break your heart. And that, I think, is one of the most interesting elements of a theme: if it is right, if it is true to the story and the characters, it gets down to the reader's heart. It doesn't have to follow any particular rule - it's visceral, as most writing is - but I do find it fascinating how, in it, the pattern of three consistently reoccurs. And I wonder, too, if it appeals to us so much because of that image of God.
what do you think? have you noticed the pattern?