The new Writer’s Digest publication of the classic, Jane Eyre, includes annotated notes by K.M. Weiland. Weiland is the award-winning author of the non-fiction best-sellers: Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. When she’s not working on her own writing projects, she’s mentoring authors through her website: Helping Writers Become Authors.
Before reading a single savory note by Weiland, the reader is greeted with an eloquently written Forward by Diana Gabaldon – internationally best-selling author of the Outlander and Lord John Grey series. Gabaldon points out:
“Everything a writer knows how to do is Right There on the page; all you have to do is learn how to see it.”
Therefore, the first step to becoming a writer – she tells us – is to read. And as you will see for yourself, there are few better novels to teach us than Jane Eyre.
This annotated version is definitely not for first-time readers of the extraordinary novel because of the in-depth spoiler discussions throughout the marginal notes. Through these notes, we sense Weiland’s great respect and love for every word written by Charlotte Brontë.
Weiland’s meticulous breakdown of the novel’s well-composed nuances, use of symbolism, layered foreshadowing, story structure, character development, and well-written dialogue is explored with a down-to-earth style. Her literary and cinematic examples make the notes relatable to all readers but are in no way “dumbed down” for tenderfoot writers. And her assay of the major Plot Points and Character Arcs are insightful and dead-on accurate.
Brontë employs the tools all writers use to construct her story, but she does it with intelligence and flair – subtle when she needs to be and theatrical in the right moments. Weiland skillfully calls out Brontë’s masterful mechanics with bright and personal analysis. To keep the readers/writers inspired and thinking for themselves, questions are peppered throughout the book.
And as expected, a Study Guide with a collection of more questions, suggestions and exercises designed to guide and incite analysis of your own writing project(s) is provided at the end of the book. The core elements covered are: 1) Structure & Plot, 2) Character & Character Arc, 3) Theme & Symbolism, 4) Conflict & Tension, 5) Dialogue, 6) Setting & Description, 7) Foreshadowing, and 8) Backstory.
My suggestion – if you’ve never read the novel – is to read Jane Eyre for the sheer pleasure of the language and storytelling, then go back and re-read it with the annotated notes for a fresh perspective.
Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics is available on amazon.