Birgitte Necessary

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Birgitte Necessary

Hi! You wouldn’t know this but I’ve been staring at this blank screen for 20 minutes now, trying to figure out what to say about myself. How pathetic is that? I hate those bios that sound like stuffy curriculum vitae, that force you to read them because you have to hire me for something equally as boring. So let me just sum up my writer self in a few main points:

  • I write because if I don’t, I would drown in the stress of life.
  • I wrote my first story in 5th grade and never stopped.
  • I love how songs can tell a whole story in approx. 3 minutes.
  • I had to start this blog on writing for writers because I’ve searched online for 10 years and never found anything remotely like it. (And I need it!)
  • Yes, I’m working on a novel. Who isn’t?
  • No, I’m not finished yet.
  • Yes, I will finish in 2010! Right? (Okay, wrong. It’s 2012 and I’m still working on it.)
  • I’ve spent the last decade or so, working as a writer and studying all forms of the craft, from fiction to nonfiction to writing back-of-the book indexes. I write nonfiction, literary fiction and have indexed over 300 reference and text books.
  • I can help you write too. Check out my classes and workshops here.
  • I have to write or die.

Welcome to Necessary Writers! Grab a drink and stay awhile. You’ll learn a lot and if we’re all lucky, we’ll learn a lot from you too! So post. Comment. Join a class. Join our team of contributing writers. And thanks for being here! Write on!

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10 Responses to “Birgitte Necessary”

  1. Claudine Says:

    That was fun, Birgitte. Humorous and inspiring. Yes, you will finish your novel in 2010! Hooray!
    And my compliments to you on this wonderfully clear website.

  2. Rachna Chhabria Says:

    Hey Birgitte, this is a wonderful site. I look forward to visiting frequently. Your Bio is absolutely delightful!!

  3. David Stacey Says:

    Your article about Story Structure and in particular “Sequel”, your sentence “What is important here is that the DECISION and ACTION portions of the sequel form the GOAL portion of the NEXT scene.” Is still confusing me. There was no portion of the sequel that contained ACTION. There was a decision to follow a course of action. Is that what you meant?
    Do you start the next scene with that decision, thereby breaking the sequel up into two parts with emotional reaction and thoughts remaining in the original scene?
    Sorry if I’m being a bit anal:-)

  4. Birgitte Says:

    Twitter: necessarywriter
    Hi David:
    Actually a sequel DOES contain “action.” It’s the last of 4 steps as I outlined in the article. Here’s the relevant part from the article that covers that:

    “A sequel happens at the moment your character reacts to getting, or not getting, or sort-of getting his scene goal. A sequel is comprised of particular responses given in a particular order. (These responses and their order are not written in stone, but until you really understand scene and sequel I wouldn’t go messing with them too much right away)

    The responses are:

    1. Emotional reaction (“Dang! Another locked room!”) then
    2. Thoughts about this situation (“Wait, what if I didn’t activate the sequences of the hidden door right, what if this wasn’t the right way for me to come…what if I did the whole thing again in another order, would I get another result?”) Or, if your character is in despair he might think, “I’ll never get out of here, I’m doomed to die here, I’ll never be able to find my way home and reclaim my birthright…” The important thing is, your character spends a moment during the “thought” section thinking about what just happened. Which leads to
    3. Decision. Your character makes up his mind to do something, “I’ll go back and try the levers and knobs again in a different order,” or maybe “I give up.” And that leads to the final step of the sequel
    4. Action. Your character takes action based on what he FELT, THOUGHT, and DECIDED. That action could be walking back to the other room, closing the door that he just opened and proceeding to redo the steps or it could be laying down on the ground of the new room and hoping for defeat.”

    Feel free to go back and read the entire article if this snippet is too out of context. And I’m happy to answer any other questions you might still have.


  5. Birgitte Says:

    Twitter: necessarywriter
    Here’s the link to the article again:

  6. Jack ALBERT Says:

    Dear Brigitte,

    This is a great article, which talks about the 3 Act novel. Could you also pls explain how to introduce a 4th and a 5th Act? You surely wouldn’t simply tag on each act and treat them the same as a 3 Act novel? Shouldn’t you do the following:
    a. justify whatever is in Act 4 starting somewhere at the beginning?
    b. How do you resolve the problems treated in Act 4? Do you keep enlarging the very last chapter, with the risk of putting in too much and boring the reader?
    c. The same thing applies to adding an Act 5, where the risk of confusing and boring the reader becomes even more of a problem?
    d. How did writers who had long novels treat this issue? The names of Nabokov and Tolstoy come to mind.
    e. Are there any new techniques being applied nowadays to treat the problem of too much complexity and reader boredom?

    Jack ALBERT

  7. Birgitte Says:

    Twitter: necessarywriter
    Hi Jack,

    No you wouldn’t tag on other acts to create a 4 or 5 at structure. Dividing your novel or screenplay into acts is not an arbitrary assignation. The three act structure outline I gave you is already divided into a 4/5 “act” structure as well. It really depends on your definition of acts. I use the “stages” designated above to create a 5 “act” structure.

    While I like this structure for helping me gauge where my story is going and what stage of the journey my protagonist finds himself, I don’t want to give you the impression that you should box your story into these parameters. If structure is too confusing and gets in the way of your writing, then just write. Use structure later in editing to give form to your story.

    No matter how many acts or stages you have, they never impact the length of your story. They overlay on the entire story, creating the structure with whatever length you have. Many writers of old didn’t use the modern day 3, 4, or 5 act structure, they just wrote, or used their own structural forms, dictated by their preferences, or the styles of writing and storytelling prevalent during the time when they wrote. Not all books have set structure, nor should they. Structure is first and foremost a tool, never something to squish your story into in hopes it will magically sing. More likely, it’ll cry out in pain.

    Stories can be very complex or very simple. Complexity in itself isn’t a negative. What dictates whether a reader is bored or not depends on the emotional connection the reader forms with the protagonist and/or the protagonist’s story goal. (I say “and/or” because in literary fiction the story isn’t about the goal as much as it might be in genre fiction). Boredom comes when the reader is no longer invested in the protagonist. Keeping the reader invested in a story is an entire set of lessons in itself! But primarily it revolves around keeping your character unique, his/her problem compelling, and getting him/her into deeper and deeper trouble. Avoid clichés, avoid shallow writing, go for depth in the story problem and in the way you tell that problem. Be mean to your main character. :)

    Don’t let them off easy. Don’t settle for the first story decision you come up with either. Be hard on yourself as a writer too.

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