Rule of Thirds

by jeanineoloughlin

Thinking Through My Fingers

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Issac Asimov

Some of you may be familiar with the rule of thirds as it pertains to photography and graphic design. However, when I was taking creative writing in high school I learned of the rule of thirds for writing fiction. It’s a general guideline we use to keep a story balanced and moving in  way that won’t bore or lose the reader. In a nutshell the rule is to keep your story to one-third dialogue, one-third description, and one-third action.

This rule of thumb is something I try to keep in mind as I’m doing my first draft edit. It has helped me a lot as I’ve had several stories in which I have overloaded it with lore or information that isn’t absolutely necessary for the reader in the story that I’m writing. It’s a habit I’m constantly fighting as I go through my edit phases and have to really figure out what does the reader need to understand and what can I skip over.

If you try to focus on balancing these three elements of your writing I think you’ll find a story that flows much easier than a story that finds itself heavily weighted in one aspect or another. There are exceptions to the rule (J.R.R Tolkien is the greatest offender I’ve personally read), but it’s this author’s opinion that moderation in all things is the best policy.

Happy Writing!