Ken Follett has just released his latest novel, ‘The Evening and the Morning’, which is already in bestseller lists all over the world.
The Evening and the Morning is an epic journey which ends some time before The Pillars of the Earth begins. It is set in 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages. England is experiencing politically turbulent times without a clear rule of law, chaos reigns. The lives of three characters; Edgar, a young boatbuilder, Ragna a Norman noblewoman and Aldred, an English monk become entwined in a fascinating tale of love and passion, as well as cruelty and ambition.
Ken Follett is one of my favourite living authors, so I downloaded his book on my kindle and my as an audio book on Audible on the 15th September, the very day it was released.
I read and listened alternately, and I can say it is as brilliantly written and carefully plotted as his previous novels in the Knightsbridge series. It also includes the compelling characters and fabulous stories which his delighted readers enjoy so much.
Ken Follett makes his stories come to life in such a way that millions of readers all over the world are suddenly finding events set in the middle ages, in pre-Norman England and Normandy, fascinating.
It’s exciting, romantic, dramatic, tragic, hopeful, and ultimately a joy to read. So, if you read or listen to one book this autumn, make sure it’s The Evening and the Morning’.
Why Writers should read Ken Follett’s Novels
It is a well known fact that anyone who wants to be a writer should read a lot, but it’s not enough to be a normal or passive reader. William Falukner summarised it in this quote:
“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad; see how they do it. When a carpenter learns his trade, he does so by observing. Read!”
Writers are a special type of reader. We dissect other writers’ work and in order to learn their craft. Every book I read is a Masterclass on writing. Many hours and months of hard work have gone into producing a novel, three years, in fact, if you’re Ken Follett, so it’s worth analysing their craft with a view to improving my own writing.
I strongly urge anyone who wants to write a good novel to read Ken Follett’s novels, all of them, if you haven’t started yet, his latest novel, The Evening and the Morning, is one of my favourites, so far.
I also suggest you watch or read his interviews and advice for writers to learn from one of the contemporary masters of literature. Here’s some advice based on his own writing process
Seven things I’ve learnt from reading about Ken Follett’s writing process.
- Write your outline: Plan, plot and research carefully before you start your first draft, including plot and character arcs.
- Style: Write clear, transparent prose.
- Push your characters: Continuously raise the stakes.
- Think about your readers, you’re writing for them. Make every scene as compelling as possible.
- Check pacing: Make sure there’s one turn or twist every 4-6 pages, but not more than one.
- Write your first draft and get feedback from readers, such as friends, experts, an editor, agent, etc.
- Rewrite your novel, yes, the whole thing all over again! Incorporating any changes or suggestions you decide would improve your novel.
Seven things I’ve learnt from reading Ken Follett’s novels.
- Hook your readers with a jaw-dropping beginning.
- Set the pace, the setting, themes and introduce at least one of the main characters on page one.
- Write every chapter, page, paragraph, sentence and word, thinking of improving your readers’ enjoyment and understanding of the novel they’re reading.
- Keep the action coming. Add a twist or turn every few pages to keep readers invested in your story.
- Create engaging characters who are honest, passionate, and proactive.
- Make sure there are plenty of adversities and villains to make life hell for your main characters.
- Make sure your characters are resilient and resourceful enough to finally overcome all the adversities life throws at them.
Finally, here’s an extra one for encouragement, never give up, keep writing and improving your craft. Ken Follett wrote ten novels before his eleventh, The Eye of the Needle, became a bestseller.
Who is your favourite author and what has he/she taught you about writing?