Tool 20 ~ Choose the number of elements with a purpose in mind.

“One, two, three, or four: each sends a secret message to the reader.”

One — use it for power —  “Tom Wolfe once told William F. Buckley Jr. that if a writer wants the reader to think something the absolute truth, the writer should render it in the shortest possible sentence. Trust me” (99).

Two — for comparison and contrast —  “In The Ethics of Rhetoric, Richard M. Weaver explains that the language of two ‘divides the world’ ” (100).

Three — for completeness, wholeness, and roundness — “With the addition of one, the dividing power of numbers two turns into what one scholar calls the “encompassing” magic of number three” (100). “In our language and culture, three provides a sense of the whole” (100).

Four or more — to list, inventory, compile, and expand — “Once we add a fourth or fifth detail, we have achieved velocity, breaking out of the circle of wholeness” (101).

 

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