Diana Gabaldon talks about the shape of BEES

As some of you may know, Diana Gabaldon says all of her books have a "shape" to them.
All my books have an internal geometric shape that emerges in the course of the work, and once I’ve seen it, the writing goes much faster. I may have no idea exactly what happens, what’s said, etc.--but I do know approximately what the missing pieces look like (e.g., I need a scene here that involves these three people, and it has a sense of rising tension and a conclusion that will lead into that scene over there …).

These internal shapes are normally invisible to the reader--who isn’t looking for them in the first place--but if pointed out, the reader can certainly see them.

(From THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION Volume 1 (Revised and Expanded), Copyright© 2015 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If you have access to the OC Volume 1 (Revised and Expanded Edition) or the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition, you can read the full explanation in an essay called "The Shape of Things". If not, you can read a version of it that Diana posted on her blog in 2008.

Naturally, as Book 9, GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, gets closer and closer to completion, many fans are curious about what the shape of BEES will turn out to be. For some time now, Diana has described it as a honeycomb, a six-sided structure, because there will be six major storylines.

Well, today she said something completely new and unexpected on Twitter, when someone asked about the shape of BEES.

A snake?? My first reaction on reading that was, "What an intriguing image!"  And it is. But then someone asked about it on TheLitForum.com (formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community), the online forum where Diana hangs out.

Diana made the following comment:
"Honeycomb" refers to the six main characters (or pairs) whose stories we're following through the book; the internal, cellular structure, if you will.   "Snake" is the overall shape of the book. It glides, it coils, it slithers, it climbs (and then drops out of a tree on you), it turns back on itself at the same time it goes forward, it has occasional bulges where it's swallowed something large...and it has fangs.
I love this description on so many levels, but that "it has fangs" strikes me as a warning to all of us, in much the same way that the painfully sharp spikes on the caltrop on ECHO's cover (representing its shape) were a warning, of sorts, to her readers.  Snakes are dangerous and unpredictable and sometimes deadly, and I think we'd all do well to keep that in mind. <g>

This description of the shape of BEES is making me really excited about this book! It sounds like it's going to be a very entertaining and suspenseful roller-coaster ride, with plenty of twists and turns -- but watch out for the snakes!

If you'd like to join in the discussion on TheLitForum, you can find it here. You have to sign up to read or post on the forum, but it's free.


Elizabeth Simpson said...

Thanks Karen! This makes me even more eager for the next book. I agree that "it has fangs" should be a warning, but I am also intrigues by "it has occasional bulges". It brought to my mind how she refers on her website to bulges as "short(er) pieces that fit somewhere inside the story lines of the novels, much in the nature of squirming prey swallowed by a large snake." I'm wondering if parts of the book will connect with previously released "bulges" or potentially future "bulges"

Unknown said...

But when is it coming?

Unknown said...

snakes also represent " rebirth, remodeling as they shed their skin. Also Healing- think Caduceus. the symbol of medicine - and Magic. The intertwined snakes. Even MORE intriguing!

Unknown said...

I'm very excited to read "...Bees..." idea when it will be out?

Unknown said...

I am still learning how Diana writes , and I am intrigued about the structure representing a thing ie honeycomb and snake. I will re read what she has written as a source for reading the new book. This is a whole new world for me to explore. Thanks for the education

Cheryl said...

sorry to all but I really dont care what shape it takes or is or was...I just want it in print in my hands. I dont have time to wait.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen , sounds very exciting and with a lot of twists and turns and with Roger and Bree returning to Fraser's Ridge it will be even more exciting , can't wait for "Bees' to finally come out when it does will buy as many as possible and wil take a year off to read it , very exciting , please post more soon. Happy Week . Loving Outlander. Sincerely .

D├ęborah Campos said...

Hi Karen. Souns intriguing, indeed! And we cannot forget the ancient symbols present in some of the stone circles, such as the Rhododendron Hell. The snake that swallows its own tail. Love Outlander. =)

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