Note: there are general, mild spoilers for the Outlander TV show in this post. No specifics, but info about the direction the characters will go.
The writing has changed my experience of other people’s storytelling. Hoo boy, has it ever. I managed to get a B.A. in English Literature without attempting to commit any literature of my own, and I wonder now why that is allowed. Having tried to write yourself has a profound effect on how you read everyone else’s stories.
I have been watching the Outlander series on Starz. Of course. You knew that without being told, right? And I have had mixed feelings about it–including real concerns about the pacing of the story–but every now and then they change something and make it better than the book. That’s what happens when experienced screenwriters translate a first novel. They pick up on the little cracks and pits, and fill them in.
And last night’s episode–episode 7, The Wedding–had a moment like that. And I have to tip my hat to Sam Heughan, who is a damned fine actor, for making it happen.
Jamie’s line is: “I said I was a virgin, not a monk. If I want guidance, I’ll ask for it.”
In the book, Claire and Jamie then go to bed and Jamie is all gratifying wonder and Jesus God. Claire even has to guide him to the right spot. Fun to read? Heck yeah.
In the television show, he pushes her onto the bed and dives right in, and as he says the line, the character changes. Up to that point he has been all “Welllll…” and “Ayyeeeee…” and compulsive head-nodding and cracking jokes. At that moment he hardens. He changes. He becomes the character that we recognize as Older Jamie. The charming lad with the charming smile? Book-readers know that over the first three seasons, he will be stomped away. That look is what will be left behind. And Sam Heughan nailed it.
It also supports a lot of what will happen in the rest of this season, in terms of the relationship between Jamie and Claire. In the book, that side of Jamie doesn’t show until an incident that will happen in next week’s episode (we saw a glimpse of it in the preview), and fully develops in another incident that I hope to God will be in next week’s episode.
The experienced screenwriters saw that the wedding night was the place to plant the seed, though. And they did. And it was brilliant. It was better than the book.
And that’s the writer in me talking.