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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Making patterns out of chaos


“What underlies great science is what underlies great art, whether it is visual or written, and that is the ability to distinguish patterns out of chaos.” – Diana Gabaldon

It was my good fortune to talk with and listen to what makes for good writing from bestselling author Diana Gabaldon at the Historical Novel Society’s international conference where both of us were on the speaking docket.
 Born on this date in 1952, Gabaldon is probably              
 best known for her Outlander series, which merge multiple genres and feature elements of historical fiction, romance, mystery, adventure and science fiction/fantasy. 

Gabaldon (she said you pronounce her last name so that it rhymes with “Bad to the bone”) noted that just like you can read a book anywhere, as a writer you have the opportunity to write anywhere, too.  With an old-fashioned notepad or a laptop computer at hand, you can just start writing.  She also said she likes to write late at night.   “I'm awake and nobody bothers me. It's quiet and things come and talk to me in the silence.” 
A native Arizonan, she holds a Ph.D. from Northern Arizona University and also is founding editor of Science Software Quarterly.  She was a professor at Arizona State before turning to writing full time in the 1990s.  Her award-winning books are out in 24 languages worldwide.  The Outlander series also has spawned the popular Starz television series Outlander, for which she serves as a consultant.

As for her “best approach” to writing, she said she doesn’t plot out her books ahead of time.  “I don't plan them. I don't begin at the beginning and end at the end. I don't work with an outline,” she said.  “And I don't work in a straight line.”


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