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Ken Follett Papers: Creative Process

Materials related to the author Ken Follett. Guide author: Thomas Zantow

Creativity Examples



The contents of this page are the result of a collaborative effort of Jack Woods and Thom Zantow in December 2007. 

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Creative Process Exhibit

Evolution of Pillars of the Earth

Working title: Vaulting

  • Creativity Example #1 [pdf] Outline of the first half only (250,000 words) 2nd draft 29 January 1986 (7pp.) [Box 12 Folder 11]

  • Creativity Example #2 [pdf] Chapter by chapter summary [no date] (5pp.) [Box 12 Folder 21]
    • Prologue 1123 "The Hanging"
    • Part One: 1135-1136 "The Old Cathedral Burns" (chapters 1-4)
    • Part Two: 1137-1138 "The New Church Begun" (chapters 5-7)
    • Part Three: 1140-1142 "William Burns Kingsbridge" (chapters 8-10)
    • Part Four: 1142-1145 "Jack Becomes Master Builder" (chapters 11-13)
    • Part Five: 1152-1155 "Aliena Marries Jack" (chapters 14-16)
    • Part Six: 1170-1174 "The Final Confrontation" (chapters 17-18)
  • Creativity Example #3 [pdf] Correspondence from Albert Zuckerman 16 May 1986 (9pp.) [Box 12 Folder 24]
    • Mr. Zuckerman is enjoying the book more and more but does not like the title.
    • He feels this book will pick up many more readers
    • He breaks his criticisms into four categories
      • The need to add a sense of religiosity of the period
      • The climaxes of each book need more orchestration and building-up
      • Some characters need altering, such as additional background and an enriched network of relationships between them
      • The scenes need more building-up, his feeling being that they resolve too easily
    • Mr. Follett adds "No" or "Yes" as well as some handwritten notes for each of Mr. Zuckerman's suggestions
  • Creativity Example #4 [pdf] Correspondence from Elaine Koster 23 July 1986 (1p.) [Box 12 Folder 25]
    • Reference to enjoying champagne as deal was made for books.
    • Originally intended to be three books, Elaine advocates condensing all three into one book based on reading Mr. Follett's "rough notes"
    • Offers suggestions for general improvements for pacing and plot development based on reading of the rough drafts
    • She closes with enthusiasm for this departure from Mr. Follett's past books
  • Creativity Example #5 [pdf] Correspondence from Pat Golbitz 29 July 1986 (6pp.) [Box 12 Folder 26]
    • Based on reading the outline Pat strongly advocates condensing the proposed trilogy into one book
    • Perhaps prophetically, Pat goes on to say that there would still be ample opportunity to add further books that would "follow more organically"
    • Several suggestions follow regarding character and plot development
  • Creativity Example #6 [pdf] Correspondence from Albert Zuckerman 10 February 1987 (4pp.) [Box 12 Folder 27]
    • Remarking on his previous two letters, which amounted to fifteen pages of suggestions, he promises to be brief
    • He compliments Mr. Follett for the modifications made to the outline to this point
    • A major point is made to develop the female characters, especially Ellen and Ann
    • From the outline the character of William "is a little too 'black' for my taste" though allowing that once scenes are written for him the reader "may see him more as he sees himself"
    • The third major point made refers to length, offering suggestions on that account
    • Three pages of specific suggestions follow on various points with Mr. Follett's handwritten annotations
  • Creativity Example #7 [pdf] Correspondence from Margaret Wade Labarge 19 September 1988 (1p.) [Box 12 Folder 28]
    • Gratitude for Mr. Follett's letter and "cheque" for her services as historian consultant
    • A few detailed suggestions are offered to flesh out details and add plausibility based on historical accuracy and chronology

Working title: Allegiance

  • Creativity Example#8 [pdf] Correspondence from Pat Golbitz: 27 February 1989 (2p.) [Box 12 Folder 29]
    • Cover letter for a 48pp. fax of suggested changes (included in Folder 29)
    • The comments are based on the second draft, though a third draft had just been received by Mr. Golbitz
    • The general comments on this cover letter are generally positive for changes already made in relation to previous suggestions
    • In closing: "You imbued the whole tale with the building of a cathedral in a passionate and awesome way which is trulty unique and truly unforgettable and then closed the circle"