"World Without End" is the sequel to Ken Follett's bestseller, "The Pillars of the Earth." I read Pillars, but cheated with World Without End and watched the series on Netflix. The books are huge, but if you like historical fiction, these stories are juicy and fun.
Here's the blurb for World Without End from Amazon:
In this epic sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, it is now two centuries after the townspeople of Kingsbridge have finished building its exquisite Gothic cathedral. On a cold November day, four children slip into the forest and witness a killing--an event that will braid their lives together by ambition, love, greed, and revenge.
Follett is a master storyteller, and he's brilliant at conflict. Here are some of the writing lessons I learned from watching World Without End:
- Show good vs. evil--Lines are drawn early in the story, and we're shown, not told, who is good and who is evil. Siblings kill each other, the queen hires a henchman to kill the king, and lovers are kept apart by cruelty. Story events push the good guys further to the good, and the evil guys further into evil.
- Let villains win--In this story, the good guys can't catch a break. A traitorous lord gains power. A murdering rapist gains favor with the king and is given land and a title. A vain religious man and his wicked mother kill their way to the top without consequences. It's frustrating yet fascinating to watch.
- Revive Biblical premises--There's a Cain and Abel storyline that threads through World Without End, beginning with an opening scene and following through to the climax. Brothers are torn apart and forced to fight from opposite sides. Bible stories are packed with built-in conflict and tough choices.
- Keep lovers apart--Two of the main characters love each other, but can't be together. First, the girl is married off to her beloved's cruel boss. Then she's accused of being a witch, and is forced to become a nun to save her life. The guy tries living his life without her, but he's drawn back to her time after time. It seems they'll never be together.
- No way out--The town of Kingsbridge will battle the king's army, and there's no way they can win. Their backs are against the wall. Community leaders muster the courage of the townspeople, and they figure out A Plan. The storyteller did a great job of making me think there was no way these simple people could win against royalty and his mighty army.
- Character traits during the climax--The story comes down to a battle of freedom vs. tyranny, and all the character work that had been done before comes into play at the end. What seem like flaws for the good guys become their strengths. What made the bad guys seem invincible now make them vulnerable. I love it when that happens.
What's your opinion of these writing lessons? Have you used any of them before? And have you read or watched The Pillars of the Earth or World Without End? Any of Follett's other stories?