Happy Birthday, Ken Follett, born 5 June 1949
Ken Follett: On Writing
- The research is the easiest. The outline is the most fun. The first draft is the hardest, because every word of the outline has to be fleshed out. The rewrite is very satisfying.
- A very good editor is almost a collaborator.
- For success, the author must make the reader care about the destiny of the principals, and sustain this anxiety, or suspense, for about 100,000 words.
- I like to create imaginary characters and events around a real historical situation. I want readers to feel: OK, this probably didn’t happen, but it might have.
- We all now tell stories by cutting from one dramatic scene to the next, whereas Victorian novelists felt free to write long passages of undramatic summary.
Masterclass On Writing
The basic challenge for the writer can be very simply explained – it is to create an imaginary world and then draw the reader into that imaginary world.
My aim in constructing sentences is to make the sentence utterly easy to understand, writing what I call transparent prose. I’ve failed dreadfully if you have to read a sentence twice to figure out what I meant.
As an aspiring writer, you should certainly start by writing an outline. I explain how to do this in this Masterclass. You solve a lot of problems with an outline. It is far easier to correct your mistakes if you write an outline than if you sat down and wrote, ‘Chapter One’ at the top of a piece of paper and started writing. If you work that way, it will take an awfully long time to correct your mistakes.
You will spend six months or a year writing the book, and only then will you find out things that you wish you had known right at the start. Writing an outline also concentrates your mind.
Follow this link to read the rest of Ken Follett’s Masterclass for aspiring writers
Ken Follett is a Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels. He has sold more than 100 million copies of his works. His best known books include Eye of the Needle, The Pillars of the Earth, The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, and World Without End.
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