Being Thankful

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So once again, there is angst and drama in the Outlander Clandom. The culprit this time is a deleted scene from S2 revolving around the death of Faith. Once again, my biggest frustration is that SOME of the ‘fans’ rather than being thankful went into full bitch mode.

I am working to accept the fact that there is a small contingency of people out there that are going to be nasty. Nothing I or anyone else can say or do is going to get them to realize that there is indeed a difference between critiquing something and criticizing it. These people are going to be loud, rude and nasty no matter what just because they feel entitled to. I can’t imagine how some of the fans who follow thousands of people and see this nastiness on a regular basis deal with that much negativity in their life. I have cut my SM time to bare minimum with only a specific list I’m following on Twitter until after the elections because I was upset and angry all the time.

Beth Wesson did an absolutely fabulous blog about all this with links to two really interesting articles about fandoms and some of the issues that are coming out with social media playing such a role in the arena now. Please click here to read FANS & CREATORS…DRAWING A LINE OF DECENCY IN THE SAND.

 

Another recent blog that I really liked can be found here: A RESPECTFUL NOTE TO YOU, RON, ABOUT JAMIE. The author let her readers know her frustration without being at all disrespectful, whiny or nasty. It was a wonderful read.

Instead of duplicating the efforts of other writers better than myself, I thought with Thanksgiving coming up (Canada having already had theirs) I’d list off some stuff I’m thankful for rather than grousing (too much) about stuff that is frustrating me. So here goes.

I’m thankful that the last job I had allowed me to spend my days around books. Being in a second hand store that processed and resold donations, I was exposed to a huge variety of tomes I might not have looked at otherwise. I had to have a good enough feel for the book to know where to shelve it, and so I found many authors I fell in love with while ‘working’. This is how I found Diana Gabaldon and Outlander.

I am thankful that a ‘movie’ was never made of Outlander. Huge parts of the book had to be left out with 16 hours to work with – a 2-3 hour movie wouldn’t have come close to doing it justice.

I’m thankful that Ronald D. Moore saw something gripping in the pages of these books and was willing to put in the effort to get it made right and on a channel that would allow the grittiness, sex and violence that is part of the story be told properly without having to water it down for viewers.

I’m supremely thankful that Ron and his team work with Diana to keep (usually) the story on track. I’ve seen many stories where the original author is cut out of the process completely.

I am thankful for a solid group of extremely talented actors who get the essence of these extremely layered and complex characters. Actors who work very hard to bring that to the screen. People who give up a lot of privacy to make, promote and give this story to the fans. While they get paid for their time, it has to get old to so constantly be in the spotlight with no life to call your own. I appreciate their willingness to interact with the fans and hope they won’t feel compelled to cease that because of a small minority that insist on being nasty.

  • I am thankful to ALL the people behind the scenes that work so hard to make Outlander such a great show.
  • Ron, the producers, writers and casting crew that give the show its frame and characters.
  • Jon and the production team that give the production its base and background.
  • Terry and her whole team that dress it up.
  • The dedicated drivers who get everyone where they need to be when they need to be there.
  • The directors who put those elements together for a compelling hour of drama.
  • Specialists like Àdhamh and Claire who make sure the unusual/special things are ‘right’.
  • All the support people that work hard to make it all happen.
  • Basically for every warm body that makes this show happen as I’m sure I missed some above.

I am thankful for all those people above that take the time and energy to interact with the show’s fans on social media and (so far) haven’t shut them all down due to the inability of a few to express themselves in a grown-up, dignified manner.

I am thankful that this team shoots way more footage than they will use in the hour so they have options to make each episode the best it can be. This also means that we get to see extra footage when the DVD’s come out that make it that much richer. These are the extra bits that keep us going through Droughtlander and give us special moments.

Mostly, I am thankful that the responsibility for deciding what goes into each episode to be aired is not my responsibility. I may not love every minute of every episode – but it is a series that has done a damn fine job of portraying good drama. Not just a love story – though that is a huge part of it; not just a history – though that is its base. An excellent story brought out in a difficult medium with gobs of competition and doing well enough that it is getting to be ‘known’.

For the scene that many seem upset about – I’m thankful it was filmed at all and we got to see it. We as fans do NOT have a clue what all goes into these decisions. Yes it was a wonderful, well-acted scene that I enjoyed very much – but I didn’t miss it at the time the show aired. Expressing disappointment that it wasn’t included in the actual episode isn’t and never will be the problem I have with the fandom; the problem is a few, very vocal ‘entitled fans’ crucifying on social media the people that work so hard to bring us this show. There are days I honestly shake my head in wonder that Ron and the team don’t throw up their hands in disgust at being attacked yet again and say “fine – since we can’t make everyone happy we just won’t do the show at all.”

I’m very, very thankful that the cast, crew and all the wonderful folks who bring us Outlander are all sane, sensible people who are too professional to let immaturity from others dictate their actions.

 

Differing Opinions: Books vs TV Series

I have said many times and will keep saying it: I love discussion. Differing opinions and asking questions is what helps us all come to better understanding of any given topic. Being able to grasp another’s point of view gives us new insight and expands our thinking. This is good.

What I get frustrated with is complaining/whining/griping/bashing. There is a big difference and it’s all in how it’s presented and, going forward, discussed. A topic came up on social media today that really brought this into focus for me. It’s happened before but I managed to catch this one from the beginning and, for a change, am not mulling it for days before writing. The idea came easily how to present this so here I am.

Now, I am not saying what branch of social media this came on, nor will I name any names as I’m not trying to get people in trouble or start a war. If they want to make themselves known that is their prerogative. 

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This is what the discussion was about. The fact that ‘The Team’ chose not to include this scene in the television production. What sort of set me back was the original post which I will quote here:

“Still irritated they did not cut there initials _ rather Claire gives Jamie a big amber rock instead”

My first thought was, “Why STILL irritated?” The decision was made, filmed and it’s long passed. It can’t be changed, why complain about it now? And – to me – making the statement this way IS a complaint. There is no question trying to understand why this decision was made, no discussion for options; just irritation. My alternative to this might be. “Too bad they felt this couldn’t be filmed. Perhaps it could be incorporated in the future. Fans love it!” 

Please understand, like most fans of the books this is a favorite segment of mine! It’s something I might do myself and it comes across as so raw and real. This is also something that comes up over and over in through the life of the story. It’s a poetic and beautiful thing woven into the fabric of Jamie & Claire’s love story.

However, I can also look at it from the perspective of it being a great enhancement, a special touch whenever it comes up, it is not a critical piece to move the story forward. Given the time constraints of the series versus the books, I can easily understand the decision to leave this bit aside. Here are my thoughts on why the decision went as it did. Maybe. I have no inside info, just experience in theatre and my own thinking with some common sense.

The initial filming would have taken a great deal of time. Camera angles, how to make sure the ‘cuts’ are consistent over multiple takes. How to do the blood to be consistent and not mess anything up between times. If I remember right (and I may not) filming was already going long because of weather issues.

It also would have been time consuming as the series progresses due to make-up issues. If they had decided to do this scene, it would be two more scars that need to be consistently applied any time they ‘might’ be in the camera view. They would be on the actors’ hands, which tend to be on camera a lot and noticed. They would have to be consistent in each scene. Hands are not the easiest place to ‘stick’ something and have it stay where you want it due to movement and constantly touching/brushing against things.

The argument was made that, these were small cuts and not often visible so they wouldn’t have to keep doing them. Yet, if they had chosen to do this scene with all the implications, there would be fans furious if they didn’t continue to see these scars on camera. It’s a no win in the long run.

I would imagine, because – while a wonderful enhancement to the story – the scars aren’t a driving component, ‘The Team’ chose to leave this out allowing time (both in front of and behind the camera) for other things.

In listening to / watching many interviews and panels, something that Ron Moore has said many times really resonates with me. He, and ‘The Team’ are trying to make the best TELEVISION they can. It isn’t a book – it has completely different constraints and driving points. Ron likes the material, but ‘sees’ it differently than anyone else because he is using a different set of eyes. He is looking as someone who has worked – very successfully – in making television shows for many years. Producing / show-running good stories that play well on screen and will last. So far, he and ‘The Team’ have done a damn fine job! IMHO

Have I been disappointed in some things with the show?    YES

Have I wished something could have been added that wasn’t?    YES

Were there things the show did that made me say WTF?!     YES

Have I had some interesting, stimulating discussions about all these things? Some – unfortunately on SM it tends to dissolve into argument and I don’t enjoy that.

I’ll probably get bashed for this post by people saying they have every right to disagree and ‘discuss’ opinions about the show. I totally agree. What gets old is the ‘angry’ people that bash and complain; that get ‘irritated’ by a difference and slam the show and Ron and whoever else rather than actually discussing the idea and why it went as it did on screen. I feel sorry for them. Discussing means listening to the POV of others and weighing that against your own ideas.

A last thought…..I can guarantee that there will be X number of people that love something with an equal number that hated it. Every ‘fan’ has their own special things that absolutely should have been on screen – there is simply no way to accomplish that with the time they have. Every single fan is right – for themselves. In the end, ‘The Team’ does the best they can to make good TELEVISION (not a reproduction of a book on screen) and Ron works to keep it faithful to the overall story, while appealing to a television audience.

Let’s be courteous to each other when voicing opinions, asking questions and having discussions. We all have our special bits from the books that are important to us, but we all view the story differently from our own perspectives, history and experience. I really enjoy ^most^ of the differences as it gives me a different view/perspective of the story and so makes it bigger and more rounded for me.

OH! And this discussion today did stay courteous and was indeed a ‘discussion’ as it progressed! The exchange just gave me a clear idea of how I wanted to explain this.

Cheers!

 

Outlander: The Series

The last blog gave readers a chance to find out a little bit about me and my background. The idea was to let people in my head a bit for why I say some of the stuff I do. Of course, there is a lot more to it all – how I was raised, by whom, when, life experiences. All this figures in to how every person views things, makes decisions about them, likes them or not. What I like, others might not and that is ok. That is great in fact because, if we all liked the same things it would be a very boring place.

Anything I write – like any other writer out there – comes from a compound of all we do and know. Taking all the bits we’ve learned from infancy to now; school, reading, meeting people, listening to the news, deeper research into something that is of more keen interest and, in more recent years, surfing the web. No one dictates to me what I do or don’t like – including my life-mate. I don’t want to be (but likely will be) called a kiss ass, suck up, puppet or anything else suggesting my opinion is not my own. I also don’t want to be called bad names if I point out something I don’t like. My opinion is my own, not dictated to me by someone else to be regurgitated. I think for myself and write what I think. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it……………………though reading differing opinions can stimulate interesting discussion.

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With that thought in mind, this is what I think of the series Outlander adapted from the books by Diana Gabaldon.

 Bloody brilliant!!!!!!!!

 I could stop there – but just a short explanation.

Ronald D. Moore, the writers, Maril and the other producers, the entire crew (Jon Gary Steele and his team, Terry D and her team, set dressers, animal handlers, the people that have to schlep gear all over the Scottish countryside, and all those I’m missing)…henceforth known as “THE TEAM” – these people are taking a huge, many layered, rich, profound story of history, love, intrigue, politics plus much more and trying to cram it into being a television show. TV – generally speaking – isn’t all that deep. There are some great stories out there, and things that are fun to watch, but television is entertainment first and foremost. There is no way to cram thirty nine hours of book (audio book time is 39 hours 6 minutes for DiA) into just under twelve hours of television and make everyone happy.

Diana Gabaldon has woven so many enchanting, laugh inducing, tear spilling scenes into her books that are wonderful to read and enrich the story – but aren’t necessarily fundamental to the plot. These very scenes are often fan favorites that would be great to see, but there simply isn’t time to have them all.

For instance: the scene of Jamie avoiding some nasty guys intent to do him harm where he grabs a rather large, hard sausage as a weapon and ends up ducking into a brothel to avoid detection. Sam would have made this an absolute treat to watch and I would have loved seeing it – but I totally understand why it wasn’t in the show. The scene simply did not advance the story in any meaningful way and so the space was given to other things that did.

There are fans that say some of the scenes don’t have anything to do with the books and why are they there…they are a waste of time! This other ‘junk’ is taking away from Jamie & Claire and their ‘relationship’ (a note on that in a minute). It may not have anything to do with the BOOKS, but it may have a great deal to do with the STORY that is being told on screen that we as viewers don’t KNOW yet. Have patience. Have a little faith.

There have been many complaints about J & C not getting enough screen time for their ‘relationship’ (SEX). I disagree. I see a much deeper connection between them now than when they were burning up the screen. The intimacy is definitely there and sex isn’t necessary to drive the overall story right now – there are other things that need to be seen. I enjoy a good sex scene as  much as the next person, and while Sam & Caitriona are beautiful people that have explosive chemistry on screen making such scenes a joy to watch, I think it would have been distracting given the complexity and gravity of the time and place they find themselves and how compacted the storyline needs to be to get through the entire book. It’s obvious they ARE intimate – every look, touch, interaction lets you see that. It isn’t necessary to play it out on the screen. Of course – that is just MY opinion and I doubt it will be a popular one.

Overall, I love what THE TEAM is doing and will continue to watch and support the series however I can. Does this mean I totally agree with EVERY decision they make? Nope. But I trust that they are making a great television show based on some favorite novels. I like the differences, the points of view contrasting my own to give me new and broader perspective on the story as a whole. What would be the point of keeping it exactly the same? If I wanted exactly the same story, I’d turn off the TV and curl back up with the books.

Please share with all involved doing the show as I know I’ll miss people when I do my tweet! THANKS!!!

Cheers!

Heeeeeeeeer’s Bree!

It’s one of those days that I wonder if it’s worth the effort to be part of a ‘fandom’. So many good things can be going on which can be so quickly overshadowed by negativity. I once heard that it actually takes 10 positive comments to balance out 1 negative comment. Now, this was talking about individuals and self-esteem, but I imagine the formula holds pretty true. We as human beings tend to be very quick to latch onto the negative rather than embracing the positive.

Today, we were (finally) introduced to the very lovely young lady that will be playing Brianna Randall/Fraser. Almost immediately came the:

She has brown eyes! That’s impossible if both parents have blue! How could they DO this?! WAAAAA (it’s not actually but won’t get into that)

She is too short!  WAAAAAA

She’s a Brit so her accent will be all wrong!!! WAAAAA

She looks nothing like I pictured Brianna! I’m SO disappointed!!! WAAAAAA

 

You all get the picture.

Italian mother.png(BTW – for me it would be a German mamma – but the idea is the same and thank you to @CandidKathryn for this meme!)

A few points here. All the negative nellies get to have their say – it’s their RIGHT by god to disagree whenever and however they please. Ok….that means I get to have my say too.

First, The Outlander books are some of the very best I have EVER read! They catch you up and wrap you into the story and you can see it all in your head. The thing I really REALLY wish people would keep in mind is – we all see it differently. How I picture Jamie is how I picture Jamie (or Claire or Bree or pick a character). MY interpretation of the words DG has put together to create the Outlander universe. It will be different from anyone else’s vision because no one else in the world has my exact background. To me, Diana created this world so SHE has final say. She can’t be ‘wrong’ because for Outlander she is ‘god’. (NOTE!!! I am not being disrespectful or blasphemous here…note the use of the lower case ‘g’. I am merely saying that as this world’s creator, she is the just that).

 

Second, while Jamie and the other characters are very real to each of us in different ways and for different reasons THEY ARE FICTIONAL CHARACTERS. They don’t exist in the real world….hence….there is no one that is going to look exactly like them physically. This is just something everyone needs to except as fact. Might there have been some actors closer in physical likeness to the different characters – perhaps. Could the ‘team’ have found anyone better to embody these characters? Not bloody likely.

I remember the hub-bub when Sam was first cast. People literally flipping out because Sam looked NOTHING like their beloved Jaimie! There is no possible way this guy could pull it off and the whole thing was ruined without a second of film having been shot. Yet, look now and no one can imagine anyone else doing such a fantastic job. Still see gripes about hair color –   *sigh*

 

Third, so far the casting of Outlander has been SPOT ON. The actors may not look exactly as the characters were described in the book (please refer to the second point above) but they have embodied the essence of the characters and totally brought them to life! Since the ‘Team’ has done such a fabulous job so far getting the right actor for the right part, I’m going to trust them on this one too! Sophie Skelton is a lovely lass who has some solid credentials behind her. For a short time acting she has a lot of credits behind her already. She also has some smarts it seems like and is willing to jump into the Twitter fray as it were. Sam tweeted that she “SMASHED IT”…… that says to me that she fits right in and will do a stellar job as Brianna. Also, as a relative ‘unknown’ she doesn’t bring any baggage from previous work – or not much. The other cast members seem pretty excited about this choice – so I hope everyone settles back and doesn’t ruin it for themselves with their own expectations.

 

None of the actors are going to exactly match the physical characteristics of the characters because the characters are creations of an (extremely talented) author. This will only be a problem if you LET it be.

Not every scene/nuance/line that is critical to you from the book is going to be in the series. It just is not possible. You are not going to agree with how the ‘Team’ does everything, accept that. If you want to discuss what you would have liked to see done differently, that’s great – but show some respect for the process and the people who do this for a living. It often isn’t what is said that is the issue – it’s how it is presented.

 

I’m going to ask what I always do. Common sense and courtesy. To each other as fans, to Diana as the author, to the actors busting ass to bring you the best show they can, to Ron and the ‘Team’ who are working hard behind the camera to do the same. Discuss – don’t malign. To others like me that are really enjoying the show – please say so! Don’t try to silence others opinions, give some balance out there on social media! Thank all involved for their hard work and dedication. They may be ‘celebrities’ – but they are still people with feelings that appreciate a sincere compliment/thank you as much as anyone else!

I’m tickled to say that, while I’ve been writing this and doing some other things, I’ve kept a watch on Twitter and FB and as things have progressed the positive comments are starting to balance the negative! This is great! I so hope the trend continues because, as I said above, it’s a 10-1 ratio for balance.

 

Let’s give the newest member of the family a warm welcome and trust that she is exactly right to bring this character to life for the series.

 

 

Outlander Season 2 – Some Thoughts

This popped up on Twitter

Season 2 tweet

I responded easily, but it got me to thinking, which means I needed to write so you can blame this one on Jen!

 

What am I most excited for in regard to Season 2? The experience – all of it.

Will “The Team” (meaning Ron and the writers and anyone with a hand in putting this show on the air) follow the book exactly? Of course not. It simply isn’t possible to cram DiA into less than 13 hours of television. Will “The Team” put out a good series that uses DiA as its base and guide? Yes I believe so. Will I like every single thing that they do? Probably not – but that is a personal preference not a slight on their decisions for the show.

I look at it this way. Season 3 of Black Sails starts in a short time. I’m very excited about that! I have back story and a ‘relationship’ with these characters now, but rather than locking myself into an idea of where the story ‘should’ go in my opinion, I want to just jump in, go for the ride and let the story take me where it will. Same with The 100 (which I found thanks to one of our votes BTW).

It’s a bit more difficult with Outlander because we DO have the story already. Diana did a fabulous job with DiA and it is many people’s favorite book in the series. I loved it once I got over the WTF moment of how the book opened. I don’t, however, want my love of the book Diana wrote to diminish my enjoyment of the series. I purposely have not read the books since MOBY came out. I remember the story and where it goes but not every tiny detail, so have been able to enjoy the series for itself. Have I liked everything done in the series? No. But I don’t like every detail of the other two I mentioned or any other series I’ve gotten involved in over my lifetime.  As the story progresses I usually find that there was a purpose for that thing I didn’t like and it all works out. Just my observation and I trust “The Team” to make this a great series – not a word for word/scene for scene copy of the books.

Beth Wesson did a great blog about ‘New Beginnings’ – (Click the link).

That covers a lot of what I wanted to say and she has such a great way of writing!

 

The series has given me some new perspectives on this story that I love. Sam & Caitriona may not be exactly what I had physically pictured in my head for Jamie and Claire, but they, by virtue of being living breathing people, have given a new depth to those characters. I don’t know if I’ll picture them when I go back to read the books again – more their expressions I think. The actors captured the essence of the characters for me, which is far more important than their physical characteristics. When I do go back and read, I’ll see the story with fresh eyes and new perspective because I have interacted with so many fans and seen “The Teams” vision as it unfolded onto the screen. I can only ever comment on my perspective. Mine isn’t right or wrong, only mine.

The only absolute authority on the world of Outlander is the author. Diana Gabaldon has written a rich, complex world layered with real history. She can’t be ‘wrong’ about something she wrote because it is her creation. It lives in her head. We each bring to our reading or viewing our own history, experience and ideas. We each view it differently because of that – but ultimately it is an individual perception not necessarily what the author had in mind. Sharing those different ideas is awesome and lends a varied perspective for another to consider – but doesn’t make any one of us more ‘right’ than any other.

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So, I am looking forward to embracing the experience of Outlander Season Two in all its glory. The sets, the costumes, the intrigue, the love and yes, even what might be seen a major deviations from ‘the book’. I don’t care. It’s going to be a hell of a ride with stellar acting, a marvelous story and all those wonderful details that make this such a great show!

More to Life

omputers……so useful……so hateful……necessary evils in our current time. Mine crashed recently and, aside from terror at the possibility of losing all my data (yes I will be religious about off machine backups now), it was wonderful!

For the first time in years I was almost completely unplugged and it was really quite peaceful and productive. Very little Email or Twitter, almost no web surfing and no Facebook (I don’t do all this stuff on my phone…it’s a phone). It was nice and made me realize I had become very unbalanced.

Most of my online focus has been on Outlander – including this blog. There are so many great sites out there already about the story and many of them have been around since long before the series. Since I didn’t feel adept to keep up with sites like

Outlandish Observations
The Ladies of Lallybroch
My Outlander Blog
Outlander Musings now Dear Outlander

I chose instead to write about the fandom and my observations regarding that facet of things. It’s a fascinating subject.

The Outlander Fandom rotates me through joy, anger, awe, disgust, insight, frustration and a myriad of other emotions on all points of the spectrum.

Outlander (and all the other books within this world) is a brilliantly written story. It is an awe inspiring, thought provoking, lesson learning narrative with characters that are flawed, make mistakes; live, love, laugh and die. REAL. A story to get lost in, leave your own existence for a time and experience another and in doing so perhaps gain new insights with which to view the real world. But……in the end……a STORY, a work of FICTION.

The Outlander Series is another story. While based on the book(s), it has its own medium and voice; completely separate and unique from the book(s). (But that’s not what’s in the books!!!!!) Amazing actors, awesome backdrop (sets, costumes, music, Scotland), wonderful writing and a unique guiding vision. Still, at the end of the day, it’s a television show.

This whole thing with “Droughtlander” il_fullxfull_478145691_guj1

There are times I expect to see/hear of people smearing ash on their faces, wearing sackcloth and ripping their hair out. For the sanity of all involved – GET A LIFE!

They are books, a TV show and people. That’s it. All great, all worthy of attention and admiration; I am not dissing the story or anyone involved in it.

What I’m saying is that there are thousands of books out there….thousands of stories, hundreds of TV shows and many truly talented people you may not have found yet. Expand a little – hobbies, a different genre, new actors and authors to discover. Don’t give Outlander up – balance it with other things.

This fandom has done some truly awesome things (Outlander Fans #DoEpicShit); it has done some really ugly things. Some things are done I just can’t wrap my head around. Like this: Sam Heughan Owes You Nothing
As a fandom, as people …… should we not think before we act or type? Would Jamie say something hurtful to another clan member just to be snotty? Would Claire wound someone deeply, viciously out of jealousy? Would Jenny sit around whining that it was winter or would she get in and do things should couldn’t manage in the distractions of spring?

Would any of the real people involved here (Sam, Cait, Diana, Ron, Maril, Graham, etc.) invade someone’s privacy? Steal funds meant for charity? Stab people, which are supposed to be friends, in the back on social media in ways that are malicious and cruel?

I am completely aware that the Outlander fandom is not a singularity in all these actions. I’m starting to think “fandoms” are a good microcosm view of society at large….and that makes me very sad. If we have this much upheaval in a relatively small community that has a very singular focus……what hope is there for the world at large?

I might influence others, give them something to ponder – but the only person I can truly change is myself. To respect myself while trying to treat others with courtesy and common sense.

What about you?

The Lie of the “Romance”

I’ve noticed on Twitter and other places, how Herself doesn’t consider the Outlander novels to be ‘romance’. I heartily agree and thought this would be a quick and easy rant about why can’t other people be sensible and see this obvious fact.

DG on set
For a change, rather than just spouting off my own – usually fairly informed – opinion, I thought I’d do a little digging to support my statement. Should be an easy thing to establish after all. However, in doing that digging, I ended up doing more and yet a bit more and now – this quick and easy little rant about how Outlander is NOT a romance – has morphed into something else.

I first found the definition of a ‘romance’ on the RWA website which reads thus:

Romance fiction is smart, fresh and diverse. Whether you enjoy contemporary dialogue, historical settings, mystery, thrillers or any number of other themes, there’s a romance novel waiting for you! Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel. An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love. Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction. Click here to better understand the subgenres within romance.
About the Romance Genre 

Well bummer. By that definition, Outlander, as a stand-alone book, fits the definition – mostly. I’d say the RWA is a fairly authoritative reference. Wiki has a slightly different take:

The romance novel or romantic novel is a literary genre. Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.” There are many subgenres of the romance novel including fantasy, historical, science fiction and paranormal.
Romance Novel – Wiki

It’s taking me a long time to write this because I’m struggling with several different thoughts about it. By the above, Outlander fits into the ‘Romance’ category – yet it doesn’t. You can’t say the entire book is focused on Claire and Jamie getting together when she spends so much time trying to get back to Frank. While Jamie is around and very important to her as a guide and protector in this hostile environment, she isn’t focused on him as a love interest – not even when she agrees to marry him! That book has a reasonably ‘emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending’ ……… but there is so much more to come!

Does Outlander and the following books have romance? Heck yes! Sex? Raw and real! Is that the entire focus of the book? No way! I found the ‘romance’ and sex to be very realistic in that they aren’t always pretty and perfect. Jamie can be quite primal – and so can Claire. It can be very explicit without seeming pornographic or OTT. It’s a natural part of life and the story. Here, Ms Gabaldon herself explained the sex in Outlander best, so I’ll stand aside and let her do it.

“     I do think that the sex scenes are both necessary and integral to the story, or they wouldn’t be there. These aren’t romance novels, but they are (among other things) the story of a very long and complex marriage. Now, there may possibly be long and successful marriages that don’t include sex, but I don’t personally know of any.

Neither are any sex-scenes included for the sake of gratuitous titillation (any titillating that happens is purely fortuitous, I assure you), nor are any of them just about sex. They have structural and emotional reasons for being where they are, and the book would not be the same story, nor have the same complexity, without them.”
Language, Language….(Part I)

In doing my ‘research’ for this (I’m sure Diana would laugh at this statement as I looked up a few minor bits online – this is by no means exhaustive, thorough or unbiased). I came across a couple of other definitions for fiction on Wiki that also seem to be appropriate for Outlander.

Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Historical fiction can be an ambiguous term: frequently it is used as a synonym for describing the historical novel; however, the term can be applied to works in other narrative formats, such as those in the performing and visual arts like theatre, opera, cinema, television, comics, and graphic novels.
Historical fiction-Wiki

Obviously Outlander qualifies in this category. When I was working in a second hand store running the book department, I always either just displayed the Outlander books (they sold too fast for me to shelve them most of the time) or put them with General Fiction. I never ever shelved them in Romance. (I always recommended them to people looking for something to read and if someone already knew the books I made sure they knew about the series.)

Magic realism or magical realism is a genre where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic or mundane environment.[1] Although it is most commonly used as a literary genre, magic realism also applies to film and the visual arts.
Magic realism-Wiki

This was a new one for me – I’d never seen this particular definition before. The magic of the stones in an otherwise normal historical setting makes this another appropriate possibility.

BJR

Realistic fiction, although untrue, could actually happen. Some events, people, and places may even be real. It may be possible that, in the future, imagined events could physically happen. For example, Jules Verne’s novel From The Earth To The Moon was proven possible in 1969, when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon. Science fiction often predicts technologies that later become a reality.

Another subgenre of realistic fiction is crime fiction like Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie, Alex Cross by James Patterson, and so on. All these works depict a fictional but plausible story.

Historical fiction is also a subgenre that takes fictional characters and puts them into real world events. For example, in the early historical novel Waverley, Sir Walter Scott’s fictional character Edward Waverley meets Bonnie Prince Charlie and takes part in the Battle of Prestonpans.
Realisitc Fiction-Wiki

Obviously our esteemed author has done this not only in Outlander but the entire series, so this too is an appropriate categorization in my opinion. My mate disagrees. He says that since time travel is used to get the characters where they need to be, it suspends the real and so is NOT a proper category.

To me, the obvious thing is that Outlander is a superb story that crosses several genres as any good literature does. There is a great blog that was pointed out to me where someone compared DG’s writing to Shakespeare – very apt I think.
By Any Other Name: Genre Gabaldonian

This brings us to the conundrum that has made this blog both longer and far more difficult to write than I first though it would be. The bigger issue is – why is having Outlander labeled as a “Romance” so distasteful to so many, including the author?

What is the first thing that you (and probably most other people) think of when they hear the words “Romance Novel”?

“Some dialog with no real plot to tie sex scenes together.”

 “Soft porn for women.” 

“Completely unrealistic situations and relationships that no real person could live up to.” 

“Bodice ripper. I mean just look at the covers!” (My mate’s response) 

“I’d never read that trash!”

It seems to me the problem is that ‘Romance’ as a genre has gotten a really negative reputation with the general reading public. The consensus seems to be that ‘Romance’ means sub-grade writing, little to no plot, and lots of torrid, unrealistic sex. How did this happen?! I mean….that can be true of ANY genre (John Norman’s GOR books come to mind for Science Fiction) so why is Romance so picked on? The idea that ‘romance’ isn’t ‘real’ writing or worthy of anyone but middle-aged women with no other outlets to read.

I was reading through Diana’s blogs** and I found this:

     “Robert Louis Stevenson – One of the earliest and best of the romance writers—back when “romance” meant adventure and excitement, escape from daily life. TREASURE ISLAND? KIDNAPPED? THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE? The titles alone are enough to transport you, but the clean prose and vivid characters bring you back again and again.”
INFLUENCES

So what the heck happened? Why do many intelligent women now have to gloss over the idea of reading a good romance? It is other people’s perception of what the genre is or is not, and it’s so very wrong. Ok, yeah…..there is a whole sub-genre of ‘bodice rippers’ out there. There are people that like them or they wouldn’t sell. Fine. But that one little sub-genre should not dictate the image of the entire grouping.

Just so you all know – I read romance. I tend to lean toward the paranormal ones or romantic suspense, but a straight up romance is sometimes just what I need. There are some great romance authors out there. A favorite is JR Ward who writes the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yeah, they are vampires – but they are kick ass warriors with attitude. I found Grey Goose because of these books. (No worries, whisky is still my favorite.) These books are all about how these big tough guys melt for their ladies, protect them and treat them right while keeping innocent humans from getting pulled into their war. The stories are good, interwoven between books, consistent and smart. What I love is the characters and the snark. The sarcastic, snarky dialogs seem to draw me to most of my favorites. I would pick up a Harlequin Historical (yeah those little purple ones) or the Intrigue and read them on lunch. Short, easy reads that I didn’t have to concentrate on because I was constantly interrupted – but decent stories for what they were. Some of the best known, biggest authors started out writing for Harlequin – but people don’t realize that. (Nora Roberts comes to mind here. Janet Evanovich, Iris Johansen and Kay Hooper wrote for Loveswept which is similar and I’m sure there are lots more.)

I too had a really bad image of ‘romance’ for a long time. I picked up a Nora Roberts trilogy bound into a single book for a dollar at a book store sale so gave it a try. I was really rather impressed. I read a lot of her early stuff in that 6 – 12 months just because of what I was going through mentally and emotionally at the time. I got burned out on her though as the more she writes the more alike the stories seem to be. There are several authors that do ‘highland’ romances and I tend to snag those if I’m feeling the urge for such a book. As you will see from my previous post, I have now discovered  JD Robb books (aka Nora Roberts) and loving them. Like Outlander, there is a serious, sensual, deep ‘love story’ as a main thread in the books – but they are murder mysteries with a kick-ass female protagonist. Go Eve.

There is another whole sub-genre of ‘romances’ called ‘Love Inspired’ that are basically a Christian romance novel. NO sex, the couple might kiss….maybe. Very wholesome, well thought out stories but in the same short, quick read format. Lots of morals and values. These too have a ‘suspense’ category and surprisingly Amish/Quaker stories are incredibly popular. Interesting fact: the Love Inspired books are a division of – you guessed it – Harlequin.

It’s too bad that Romance has gotten such a bad name in the literary world. There is a place for these books just as there are every genre out there. There are things I just don’t read because I don’t enjoy them. I’m not a big ‘horror’ fan – I’ve never read Stephen King though I guess his books are really good. I had customers recommend Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett to me over and over saying it was the greatest novel they had ever read – I gave up about a quarter of the way in because I just couldn’t get into his writing style. My dad shuns ‘romance’ yet loves the Eve Duncan books by Iris Johansen – who started out and still writes romance. He is also the one that got me started reading the JD Robb books which he is reading through a second time. Different strokes.

Is Nicolas Sparks a ‘romance’ writer? I got heated debate on that one. I haven’t read him yet (so many books, never enough time) but I had people look for him in both romance and general fiction. I shelved him in general fiction – that was my choice in my department. Because he was a guy? Hmmmm…maybe. Hadn’t really thought about that. What about Audrey Niffenegger and the Time Traveler’s Wife? What about Sense and Sensibility? IS it actually a “romance”?

Genres and shelving classifications are a necessary evil in my mind. You group like books together so people who are looking for something specific have far less books to look through to find what they want. Then there is the problem of authors who cross genres and drove me nuts! Do you cheat and put all their books together in the area they are most known for or shelve the books by genre even if that means having the author show up in three different places?

Personally, I like a heterogeneous library. I read all sorts of books from self-help to humor to romance to spy novels and everything in between. I go on binges of fantasy/sci-fi and a newer category is ‘urban fantasy’. (Back to my love of sarcastic, solid characters with great interaction, I found the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher to be a really fun read. Some good underlying truths and morals in there too if you bother to look.) Books I read, like people I hang out with, tend to be so much more than can be pigeonholed into boxes.

In my very humble opinion – Outlander is NOT a “romance”. To label it this does it a huge disservice to the depth and scope that it has. Like any truly great, classic work of literature it has romance, and adventure and intrigue and betrayal and real life staring back at you. It didn’t happen, but it could have. These are characters – and great friends. To put it simply, and something I think we can all agree on, it’s a thumping good story that can be recommended to just about anyone who likes to read in any genre.

I know this is long – a lot to cover. I’d really love comments & discussion on this! Thoughts as to  why Outlander is still perceived this way and what can we as lovers of the story perhaps do to help adjust that perception.

Cheers

**OH! Side note here! For any who have not taken the time to read through her blogs – you are SOOOOOOO missing out. I just skimmed looking for some things to add in this blog and spent a couple of hours just immersed in thorough enjoyment.
DIANA GABALDON BLOG

Outlander-books