Looking for “kernels”….writing about Outlander.


imageI’m fascinated with Diana Gabaldon’s wrting process.  As she has said before, she doesn’t write in a straight line or with an outline.  She writes scenes as they occur to her. At some point she has written enough scenes to be able to see a direction for the plot or as she puts it “a pattern”. In a recent twitter conversation with another aspiring writer, I was discussing this writing process when guess who commented on the conversation! She sees everything! She’s omnipotent! Actually, I’m not sure she sleeps. Her point was to do whatever it takes to get words on the page. Do what works for you; whatever it takes be that outline or no line.

I am so appreciative of her generous interaction with her fans and especially with those who aspire to write. Her insight is invaluable.  Her explanations are always clear and make total sense. She is a great teacher and I learn. This particular conversation revolved around the idea of revisiting written scenes to look for “kernels” that will lead to new insight into the characters and their actions. Often these kernels then lead to plot twists or direction.  This discovery process fascinates me and I set about to see if I could apply its principals to my own writing.  Imagine my surprise when I realized I already do! (How could I not know this?)

I fact, this is how I choose what to write about. I reflect on conversations, perhaps something I’ve seen or often, very often what I’ve read in the Outlander series.  I find “kernels” of truth about life in the pages and story that Diana has written.  Her work is my muse.   Her stories are my “cornfield” to harvest!  I’m hoping that someday soon my writing will move beyond my obsession with the series, but for now…it works. I’m writing and learning.

I’m amazed that I haven’t run out of things to write about Outlander.  As of this post, I have 29 blog posts all Outlander related. I think my ability to find new things to appreciate or write about the series are a testament to the richness of her story. Her characters are fleshed out to the point of being able to walk off the page. Her settings and story immerse the reader.  I truly feel I’m there when I read. The dialogue is engaging and real.  And, as I’ve expressed before, there is truth about the wonder and irony of life in the conflicts her characters strive to overcome. I always find something new to write about. Recently, I joked that all questions could be answered with an example from Outlander! It is my point of reference, along with the Bible and my own life experiences!  LOL!

My latest blog post was inspired by comments Diana made at the Comic Con screening panel.  She spoke about choosing to write about a love that lasts for fifty years.  I was inspired to look for the “kernels” of truth about a fifty year love in the story.  What I found was another truth about life. I found something new to appreciate. I found something new to write about.  It hasn’t  been my most read blog, but it is one of my favorites.  People are sharing with me their love stories. They are telling me I am expressing what they feel about Diana’s work. I’m moved by what they write and wonder if I’m getting a little taste of what she must experience when people tell her what her writing means to them.  I know she has said she  is always interested in hearing what people see and get from the books. Well, I can share that my readers get affirmation about what they believe to be true about life from her story of a man and woman and their everyday and not so everyday adventures.

Thank you Diana for sharing your gift and time and “kernels” of truth.


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