The Life and Writing Lessons of Outlander

We are just days away from the much-anticipated oh-my-god-Jamie-is-back historical April the 4th, when – besides Holy Saturday and Blood Moon – Starz TV show Outlander’s return is happening. I can actually hear the screams of the Outlandish fandom, which I have come to know is huge, devoted and very much fun. I joined it quite by chance and very recently – just this February – when I decided to kill a few hours binge-watching something. Phew! Something, indeed!

Forward two months and here I am, almost finished with book 3 (Voyager) and super-excited to watch
(SPOILER! ———- a man rescues wife; a man beats wife; a man makes outrageously hot love to wife in ——- END OF SPOILER)
ep. 9. And while there is much to say about the smoldering Jamie Fraser and the appeal of the story as historical fiction (give or take a few fantasy elements), there is also a lot to actually learn from the Outlander novels. For these many lessons I am forever grateful to Diana Gabaldon.

Outlander1_2

Life Lesson 1: Long-term relationships are complicated and there is history in them that builds up and never goes away.

Life Lesson 2: Most of the time there is no right or wrong in an argument; people come from different viewpoints.

Life Lesson 3: There is more value in understanding and comforting your loved one, than in having everything align perfectly for you two.

Life Lesson 4: There not always is a redeeming circumstance to people’s wrongdoings. It does not mean they cannot be forgiven.

Life Lesson 5: Many people in your life can be broken, yourself included – it does not make it a broken life.

Life Lesson 6: Big tragedies in life sometimes are a blessing in disguise.
(SPOILER!
——- If Claire and Jaime had managed to prevent Culloden and stayed to live happily ever after in Lallybroch, Claire and Bree would have probably both died——-
END OF SPOILER)
.

Life Lesson 7: Not everything has to be said between two people for them to understand each other; some things are decidedly better left unsaid.

Life Lesson 8: Sometimes you need to forgo your need to divulge feelings/emotions/concerns for the benefit of the other; this does not victimize you.

Life Lesson 9: If your man confesses to an attraction to other women it does not mean he likes you less; also, people hardly ever like two people the same exact way.

Life Lesson 10: You should fight each other’s battles and pick each other up no matter what. There is the two of you now.

I realize now that these sound a bit like hollow moralizing, but they are much more, because the reader lives through them, along with the MCs. Superb writing and an engaging story can do that.
The story might be about 18th-century Scottish brigands and time-travel, about the French court, risings and pirates; but it is very contemporary in terms of intrinsic human problems.

There is none of the romanticizing, vilifying and black-and-white storytelling of classic historical/romance fiction.

The love story bears an undertone of certain maturity and understanding; a non-romantic flesh-and-blood feeling to the main characters. It is no surprise that Gabaldon herself has been happily married for over 40 years. It is easy to deduce it from her writing.

Outlander

This brings me to my second point. As an aspiring writer I could not help myself wow-ing at certain passages; taking snapshots of a very delightful wording; and basically freaking out that I could never be that good. So this is me turning the panic to something more constructive.

Writing Lesson 1: You can write a magnificent book (or 9) without having started it in your teens.

Writing Lesson 2: Long-life passion for writing can translate in you becoming an actual writer, even if you had a very different career.

Writing Lesson 3: Any career can make you a better writer (academic experience makes you a better researcher without being too distracted by the research).

Writing Lesson 4: You can write a sex scene without sounding like a cheap erotica novel about inner dancing queens that will be later made into a rather boring movie.

Writing Lesson 5: You cannot write a sex scene and not be worried about your kids/parents reading it. Readers should not be confused whether sex is happening or not; and if it is it should propel the story forward. Closed doors cannot do that.

Writing Lesson 6: There are a lot of words in the English language and not all the ones you do not know are useless SAT words.

Writing Lesson 7: Hemingway and Mark Twain might have a point about adverbs, but there is a way to use them to an absolute benefit. Gabaldon’s style is very witty and funny and her adverbs help that.

Now, I am happy to tell you that after finishing reading this, you are that much closer to watching Outlander’s new half-season. I made it long for your benefit only, I promise.

Are you an Outlander fan? What do you love the most about Claire and Jamie’s relationship? Please, share in the comments, so we can keep ourselves entertained until Saturday! 😉 

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2 thoughts on “The Life and Writing Lessons of Outlander

  1. Where do I start? I love the helplessness of them. They cannot deny what is happening, the attraction for Jamie from the start and then Claire’s realization that here is a truly good man, and she doesn’t even know the half of it yet! His innocence of love is countered by his proficiency of battle, so endearing. There is nothing mundane about them. SPOILER: when Claire returns after 20 years I was literally sweating with anxiety for her. After each book I ache to be with them again. They are perfectly imperfect.

    1. Hi Christine! Yes, you have put that perfectly – they are perfectly imperfect! I was also so anxious at that moment they meet again! I felt a ton of emotions! What really appeals to me is that their story is so extraordinary but yet I can absolutely relate to moments of embarrassment, betrayal, hopelessness, etc. they go through. It’s not mundane, but it’s very human.

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