What Outlander Taught Me About Writing.

Sep 6 2021, 3:00 pm in , ,

 I believe no two people read the same book or see the same TV show.  We read/watch with our own POV. Our world views and experiences. Everyone’s mileage differs. This is my perspective on the Outlander books. 

 The first of the 8 books, (book 9 come out November 2021) written by Diana Gabaldon, was published in 1992. There is a Starz TV series, first aired in 2014. Season 6 will drop February 2022.  Outlander is about a woman, Claire Randall, sometimes called the Sassy Sassenach. In the mid-20th century she sets her clocks back too far when Daylight Saving time ends and lands up in 18th century Scotland. Her goal is to get back to the 20th century. But there is a hot Scot, Jamie Fraser, affectionally know to many as Kilt Daddy, whose goal is to keep her there. The Sassenach’s motivation is to get back to hot baths, toilet paper and a husband. His motivation is love. He loved her from the moment he saw her. Sigh.

 Conflict is behind every bush. Redcoats waring with Highland Clans. Waring 20th and 18th century morals and values. Will she make it back to the 20th century? There are times when I have to slow down to catch my breath. Other times I can’t read fast enough to find out how, or if the character gets out of the pickle the author puts them in.  

 The author intrigues me most with her characters emotional connections and journeys. Everything between tender to brutal, funny to heartbreak is on the page. She states the language of sex is emotion. Her intimate scenes are more about emotions than physicality and they are hot.

 Gabaldon weaves her fiction around historical events. She immerses her characters in actual places and events. To the point the settings and events become characters. When the very name of a place is mentioned, a reader is able to conjure up the image. Not so much because of complicated physical details but because of the addition of sensual details.

 In book 6 of the series, a Breath of Snow and Ashes, the kiddos get into Cherry Bounce, a high content alcohol drink that tastes like industrial strength cough syrup. The scene has little mention of taste. There is plenty about the effects on the wee ones and reactions from the adults. The reader can’t help but smile if not laugh out loud.  Again emotions.

 As the Fraser family grows so do sub plots. The reader becomes as deeply involved with secondary characters as they are the main characters. Every single character elicits emotional responses from me. One character has his hand severed. O. MY. The death of a beloved child.  Some characters we absolutely hate. These books have many villains. They cause emotional and physical havoc. With love and compassion on every level the reader literally feels what the characters do, experiences what the characters experience.

 I adore the way Gabaldon uses animals as characters. Ian’s dog. The family mule. Sassy Sassenach’s chitty. Kilt Daddy’s horses. They have their own personalities. Their interactions with humans is amazing. The readers become emotionally vested in the animal’s stories.   

 Okay, I’ve rambled long enough. My point I’m trying to make is the story isn’t simply being told. I feel I know Kilt Daddy, Sassy Sassenach, their family and their connections to each other. When something happens to them, I feel it. I have an emotional connection to people, places and animals in this book.

 How does Outlander speak to you?  Does it give you ideas to improve your writing?  






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