Welcome to this week’s chapter of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Here, we look at what works in this book to make it a compelling story.
Chapter 27: The Last Reason
Summary: The next day, Jamie goes off with Ian and the men to tend the land, and Claire stays behind with Jenny. All day, Jenny and she fence with words, being utterly polite but utilizing subtle exploratory thrusts. Jenny challenges Claire’s ability to handle Jamie, who she practically raised. Claire holds her own in insisting that she can.
Later, Jamie comes home and finds Claire. Amidst teasing, he finally confesses the last reason he agreed to marry her: that he loved her and, as his father once said he would, knew she was The One from the moment she bandaged his wounds that first night and yelled at him.
Writer Comments: No, this chapter isn’t long, doesn’t contain much, and thus is why today’s post is so short. However, much like the Loch Ness chapter (chapter 19, The Waterhorse), it represents an important moment in the story. For this reason, Gabaldon highlights it by ensuring other story elements don’t clutter the chapter and by making the chapter significantly shorter than most.
Chapter length, like sentence and paragraph length, is one of the ways authors manipulate story and tension. Short chapters often give a story a swifter pacing and make it easier for a reader to keep saying, “Just one more chapter. This next one is only five pages.” However, as you can see here, manipulating tension isn’t the only thing that intentionally controlling chapter length can be used for.
Remember that chapters are just larger Legos of a story. Words are the smallest Legos, then sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and finally, chapters.
As to the content of the chapter, it gives readers a sense of what Jamie and Claire’s domestic life will look like, at least for the short term. And, of course, saying those three words, “I love you,” or whatever version a character manages, is significant in most books. It’s particularly vital in romances, however.