Are you a list maker? I am. My lists have lists. If I don’t write something down, it will never happen because the task goes poof from my brain if not committed to paper.
However, this post is about a different kind of list-making.
Remember the “Rule of Three.” We have the:
- Three Musketeers
- Three Little Pigs
- Tic Tac Toe
- Two’s company, three’s a crowd (Oops, bad example. Sorry.)
Take a look at this sentence:
I packed my pink sundress, yellow shoes, green handbag, peach nightie, white tube socks, red shorts, blue thong, (I mean thongs, as in flip flops), a bottle of sunscreen, and I was set for my trip to Aruba!
Aside from envy over someone packing for Aruba, didn’t she lose you after you heard she packed her nightie? (Ok, maybe the men were still interested.)
The “Rule of Three” is powerful. List more than three, your readers will wander off to the fridge for a cold drink.
Let’s take the sentence above and clean it up.
Aruba is a tropical paradise where men like to prowl the beach, so I simply threw sunscreen, my g-string bathing suit, and a sexy nightie into my suitcase.
Ok! I have your attention now!
Limit your lists to three items. If you love items four, five, and six, put them in another sentence and mix up the “list-y-ness.”.
For example, you could follow up “the hot, hot,” hot sentence above with:
Since my mother was coming along on the trip, I also packed a cardigan, sensible shoes, and a plastic rain bonnet. Otherwise, she would scold me for not thinking ahead. Damn her. The customs guy will think he is searching the suitcase of an 82-year-old woman.
Finding your lists in your writing is tricky if you don’t use the Oxford comma. (I’m a fan.) If you are a Oxford comma user, search for your lists by putting “and, ” (AND-COMMA-SPACE) in the search window.