There are two modes of wave development: motive and corrective. Motive waves have a five wave structure, while corrective waves have a three wave structure or a variation thereof. Motive mode is employed by both the five wave pattern of Figure 1-1 and its same-directional components, i.e., waves 1, 3 and 5. Their structures are called “motive” because they powerfully impel the market. Corrective mode is employed by all countertrend interruptions, which include waves 2 and 4 in Figure 1-1. Their structures are called “corrective” because they can accomplish only a partial retracement, or “correction,” of the progress achieved by any preceding motive wave. Thus, the two modes are fundamentally different, both in their roles and in their construction, as will be detailed throughout this course.
In his 1938 book, The Wave Principle, and again in a series of articles published in 1939 by Financial World magazine, R.N. Elliott pointed out that the stock market unfolds according to a basic rhythm or pattern of five waves up and three waves down to form a complete cycle of eight waves. The pattern of five waves up followed by three waves down is depicted in Figure 1-2.
One complete cycle consisting of eight waves, then, is made up of two distinct phases, the motive phase (also called a “five”), whose subwaves are denoted by numbers, and the corrective phase (also called a “three”), whose subwaves are denoted by letters. The sequence a, b, c corrects the sequence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in Figure 1-2.
At the terminus of the eight-wave cycle shown in Figure 1-2 begins a second similar cycle of five upward waves followed by three downward waves. A third advance then develops, also consisting of five waves up. This third advance completes a five wave movement of one degree larger than the waves of which it is composed. The result is as shown in Figure 1-3 up to the peak labeled (5).
At the peak of wave (5) begins a down movement of correspondingly larger degree, composed once again of three waves. These three larger waves down “correct” the entire movement of five larger waves up. The result is another complete, yet larger, cycle, as shown in Figure 1-3. As Figure 1-3 illustrates, then, each same-direction component of a motive wave, and each full-cycle component (i.e., waves 1 + 2, or waves 3 + 4) of a cycle, is a smaller version of itself.
It is crucial to understand an essential point: Figure 1-3 not only illustrates a larger version of Figure 1-2, it also illustrates Figure 1-2 itself, in greater detail. In Figure 1-2, each subwave 1, 3 and 5 is a motive wave that will subdivide into a “five,” and
each subwave 2 and 4 is a corrective wave that will subdivide into an a, b, c. Waves (1) and (2) in Figure 1-3, if examined under a “microscope,” would take the same form as waves * and . All these figures illustrate the phenomenon of constant form within ever-changing degree.