Welcome to this week’s read of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Here, we take a look at what works in this bestselling novel to improve ourselves as writers.
Chapter 30: Conversations by the Hearth
Summary: The next evening, Jenny tells Claire and Jamie about what it feels like to be pregnant. The talk soon turns to undertones that draw her husband, Ian, off to the bedroom. A little overtaken by the elderberry wine he’d been drinking, Jamie soon takes Claire as well.
Writer Comments: Almost all of this chapter has to do with pregnancy. Of course, mostly Gabaldon focuses on Jenny’s current pregnancy, but there are hints of Claire’s pained disappointment that she still has not conceived.
However, I’d like to point out an important fact here. To write this chapter, Gabaldon had to be very familiar with her audience. No audience composed of any great number of males would put up with this level of detail. Men as a general rule do not like to be given much detail when it comes to female reproduction, at least the parts they don’t directly participate in. Women, on the other hand, tend to be fascinated with it. This isn’t to say that there aren’t exceptions, but when considering an audience, an author must go with the rule rather than the exception.
When writing fiction that has a larger female audience you can get away with discussing female issues in greater detail. I’m sure the reverse is true for a male audience and male oriented topics.
One other note: As of now, we’ve had several chapters in a row where little has occurred, and since Jamie and Claire have arrived at Lallybroch, the direction of the story has become vague. I can only assume that Gabaldon intends for Jamie to eventually be pressed by the English, perhaps for Claire to become pregnant. Beyond that though, I’m not sure where she’s going with things. In you own writing, it’s important to make sure that every scene serves at last two or more purposes.