One, Two, Three

Humans are pattern-driven. We see them in the world around them and we sort things we experience into patterns, as if that will make them make more sense. It makes things manageable – and that management can give us a feeling of completion.

When writing a story, a very basic pattern you can follow is a three-part pattern. Introduce, develop, resolve. That’s how most stories work, and indeed, that structure more or less is how stories work in our head. Introduce a thing, introduce a problem with that thing, resolve that problem with the thing. That’s our most basic unit of story. That’s one.

If you want to explore how that same unit of story might look, however, from another angle, introducing a second instance of the same thing. The easiest way to do this is to have the two happen at the same time; you don’t need to invent a second event, you can just use the same event from two sides. You see one, but you see one again; thus, we have two.

You have One and Two. What if you made a One, where each part was, itself, a pattern? What if you introduce a dynamic, then complicate that dynamic, then resolve the dynamic? It looks like (Introduce-Complicate-Resolve) (Complicate Introduction-Complicate Complication-Complicate Resolution) (Introduce Resolution-Complicate Resolution-Resolve Resolution).

One, two, three.

We’re pretty simple beasts. You can use this one-two-three structure – as basic as it is – as a starting point for almost any simple idea you want to explore in more complex ways.