• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

Endings (From My Writer’s Corner)


Just for fun—rooted this brief excerpt out to illustrate a discussion amongst writers about endings, and I thought y’all might enjoy it.

(The subject was Endings that make the reader want to go on to the next chapter. Basically (I think), that kind of temporary ending is usually either a cliff-hanger type (even a tiny cliff-hanger will do), or a “resting” ending—where Things have been Happening, and you want everyone to be able to stop for a moment and breathe. But there is another kind, that I call “jacks”—in which you scatter a number of small, shiny objects around and cause the reader to want to pick them up. So I was looking for a “jacks” ending to a brief scene, and found this one. Hope you enjoy it!)

RAYMOND—The Chieftains’ Tent

I passed quietly behind the Chieftains’ Tent and paused to look round the edge, down the hill. Was the blue tent moving, or was it only the fire playing on the smooth hide? A long, slender arm suddenly shot out and pulled the hide fully across the entrance.

I sighed, but stood there, watching even though there was nothing to see. It got darker, though, and the blue tent faded into the night. No point in standing here listening to the noises in the tent—but before I could leave, someone called me.

This had happened all my life. Echoes in my ear, sounds coming out of the air. Sometimes words. Now and then, my name. I didn’t realize that not everyone heard this kind of thing, but I found out quickly when I mentioned it to Ergon, who punched me in the stomach, cuffed my ear and told me to shut up.

I shrugged and slipped into the Chieftains’ Tent. If anyone there wanted me, it would most likely be my father.

Toyo was sitting on a auroch’s hide, supposedly tending the firepot but actually dozing, sitting up. He felt the draft when I came in, though, and his head jerked up, turning round.

“Oh, it’s you.” He yawned hugely and stretched, then scrambled to his feet. “I’m going for a piss, then. Mind the fire,” he added automatically, though I had already bent to take some twigs from the pile by the hearth.

The hide dropped heavily behind him, and the tiny flame of the firepot took alarm and struggled wildly.

“It’s all right,” I said to it, and soothed it with a fragrant pine twig. “Here, see? I’m here. It’s all right.”

The fire heard me and brightened, licking delicately at the twig, then taking hold all at once, flaring and gnawing at the bark.

The glow made a tiny shine on the chieftains’ sollens. There were five, standing shoulder to shoulder, set on a big flat hearth-stone to keep them from the damp, even though the baskets were woven tight and smeared with pitch.

There were five: [names]. Teo was my father and I bowed and touched my forehead gently to his sollen. There was a sense of his warmth, quite separate from the warm patch the fire made, but I waited for some time and nothing more happened. He hadn’t called me.

I straightened up, and looked at the other sollens. They all looked the same, bar the slight variations in the weaving, but they didn’t feel the same. I reached out and passed my palm slowly over the tops of the row.

[So, what do you think? Would you go on reading? <g>]

To read more about how I do my work, plus advice for new writers, please visit:

My Writer’s Corner webpage.

And thank you to the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow for the photo of some of their petrospheres! (From Wikimedia— Attribution :By Johnbod. Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37283607)

This excerpt was also posted on my official facebook page on March 18, 2023.

Copyright © by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.

22 Responses »

  1. Yes, I would want to keep on reading and to find out what a ‘sollen’ is. It’s not in the dictionary.

  2. Drága Írónő! Kedves Fordítók!

    Most fejeztem be a 7. rész 2. kötetét. Január vége óta olvasom, hetente 1kötet.
    Teljesen lebilincsel ! Nincs még egy ilyen sorozat! A könyv milliószor jobb, mint a film!
    Várom a következő részt!

    Őryné Kati

    ————From Google Translate————–

    Dear Writer! Dear Translators!

    I just finished volume 2 of part 7. I’ve been reading since the end of January, 1 volume a week.
    Fully handcuffed! There is no other series like this! The book is a million times better than the movie!
    I look forward to the next episode!

    Őryné Kati
    White Colony

    • Hi,

      Well, there is book eight, then book nine (GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE). Sometimes translations into languages other than English take awhile, as does the publishing of them.

      I hope you find book eight soon! You might contact the publisher of Book 7 in the language you are reading, and ask them when Book 8 will be translated and available for purchase.

      I am hoping to add more information about international editions of Diana’s books on her website in the future.

      Good luck!

      Diana’s Webmistress

  3. Yes, I would continue to read this story. I am intrigued as to what may transpire with the interaction with the sollens.

  4. Are you going to finish a book on Raymond? I would love to read it!

    • Hi, Diane,

      Diana has said that after Book Ten of the Outlander series, she has several books planned. One is a prequel novel about Jamie’s parents (which Starz is going to make a new series on!) and a book about Master Raymond.

      So she is certainly planning on it! But that is at least several years down the road.

      I want to read it, too!

      Diana’s Webmistress

  5. All right, ya got me. What the hell happens next and is this some sort of prehistoric fiction you’re writing next or does it have something to do with the Outlander series…the name Raymond? Because I keep wondering what happened to Mr. Raymond and also I keep wondering about Fergus’ father who could ‘travel’ through the stones and can Fergus travel?

  6. Dear Diana,

    Yes, I am intrigued to continue reading, as I really enjoy your literary works. I’ve read the Outlander series numerous times and still discover something “new” that I missed seeing previously. I am so glad I “discovered” your writings while browsing through the books at my Thrift Store when I read the back page of Outlander – just amazing story telling – feels like I’m tucked away in book heaven!

    I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a question, as I don’t seem to be able to figure out how Brianna and children (in America) reunited with Roger in Scotland in 1739 before taking a ship back to America for all of them to go thru the Stones at Ocracoke to rejoin Jamie and Claire at The Ridge in 1779? Pardon my ignorance for not keeping up with the plot.

    I am eagerly awaiting your next novel in the Outlander series. In the interim, I am reading a number of novels by Suzanna Kearsley (one of your favourite authors too, I understand), along with the “Woman of Substance” series by Barbara Taylor Bradford and mystery novels by Ruth Ware. Us readers are so lucky to enjoy such brilliant writings. Thanks again so very much!

    Best regards,

    Bonnie McMahon
    Vancouver, BC

  7. Yes, I would definitely keep reading.

  8. Diana,

    That is awesome.

    “and the tiny flame of the firepot took alarm and struggled wildly.”

    I particularly love this line. It’s so evocative, but so it all is.

    The discussion on endings was really good. I want to explore it more. It’s a deep well.

    Yes, definitely I’d keep reading.

    Well done.


  9. I would love to read on! I have leukemia and the chemo makes me ill. So, I spend a lot of time resting and reading. The books take me away and I couldn’t be more grateful.

  10. Yes, if for no other reason than to find out exactly what a sollen is – since I cannot find its usage as a noun. Am guessing it is a woven basket holding the ashes of an ancestor. But, of course, I would want to find out who called Raymond and why.


    Yes! From digging a bit I found out that “sollen” has a Germanic root so I am thinking that Master Raymond spent some of his youth in what would one day become a piece of Cemtral Europe in a wild forest. More please..

    Anna from Florida

  12. Yes, I would keep reading! Your chapter endings are always so well done! It’s either a little cliff hanger, like you mentioned, or a nice wrap-up. But either way, I am always intrigued with your setting validity and your lovable (and hatable) characters.

    Your writing has completely mesmerized me. I am a writing teacher and have used your kernel lesson with my 7th grade writers. So brilliant–no outline! My kids appreciated not having to write their pieces in a linear fashion, for once.

    Looking so forward to Book 10 and the series, Blood of my Blood. Glad you will be consulting on the show.

    Best wishes for a beautiful summer in Arizona!

    Patti from Dallas

  13. Hello Diana,

    Regarding Raymond chieftain‘s tent, i would not read on i think ( and i an not a reader to quit easily). Maybe more explanation or the flow, something is missing. I am not a writer.

    But love your Outlander books and cannot await a new one.

    Best regards,


  14. Oh, hell yes…
    Please do not leave us there!

    By the way, I love your writing. You are gifted with such gorgeous descriptive language, allowing the reader to not just read the story but, immediately ‘live in’ the story! Your ability to connect to the characters on a deeply intimitate level, allows the reader to intimately connect to them as well.
    As I reflect upon this, it does seem to me, beside your early comics, later scientific articles, somewhere along the way, you must have stumbled into a few psychology classes as well!!! Even if we only consider the fact, genuine stories, involving human beings, cannot be told in one book or 500 pages!
    Thank you kindly for decades of reading!

  15. Yes, I would definitely keep reading. I loved the sense of connectedness and know that everything is possible.
    I look forward to someday reading those words in a novel. Your writing is inspiring.

  16. I would and do read anything you write. I would read this

  17. Hi! In order to taunt, I would have omitted the last paragraph. Anyhow, yes, I’d like to read this story.

  18. Fergus’ father can go through the stones? Totally missed this. There must also be some hint about who his father is? I missed that, too.

  19. This is fascinating.
    DG referenced “petrospheres” which appear in the image at the top.
    I looked them up and it led me down the rabbit trail to Scottish stones and the Pictish peoples.
    The Picts of Scotland painted and tattooed their bodies and fought nude
    centuries before the Mohawks of America existed.
    DG makes history come alive.
    She’s a catalyst that forces me to delve deep and search out the hidden gems.
    She’s a fountain and I love
    drawing near to drink of the waters!
    I will read her writings-whatever ,whenever, wherever!!!

    • So glad you are experiencing the joys of falling down the rabbit holes and discovering new information and perspectives. It’s addictive, whether learning about history, science, or just about any topic. Happy New Year, Kelley!

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