Jane Eyre: The Writer's Digest Annotated Classic by K.M. Weiland and Charlotte Brotne

10 Things Writers Can Learn From Jane Eyre

You are one lucky ducky. Know why? Because writers can learn about storytelling just about anywhere. Life itself is a story. All we have to do is sit back and watch!

But one of the best specific places where writers can learn how to better their craft is by reading masterful books. As we approach the August 1st release date for my writing how-to book Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic, I’d like to share ten quick lessons you can take away from this book right now. In lieu of the standard book trailer, graphic wizard Sean Brunke put together this fun little video for us.

Video Transcript:

Jane Eyre: The Writer's Digest Annotated Classic by K.M. Weiland and Charlotte Brotne1. Readers love brave characters more than they love “good” characters.

2. Characters have to earn the thing they want most.

3. Good antagonists come in many shapes and sizes.

4. Readers will love even an unethical character—if the character is honest.

5. Weather can create: tone, mood, theme, foreshadowing, tension, and conflict.

6. Backstory is most powerful when 1) it’s awesome 2) readers have to wait for it.

7. Theme is strongest when it asks rather than answers.

8. Good chapter cliffhangers can hook readers with: outright questions, implied questions, interrupted scenes, irony.

9. Interesting scenes are born of the contradiction between a character’s inner and outer goals.

10. A clever use of foreshadowing can make readers believe anything.

Tell me your opinion: What lesson have you learned from the novel you’re reading right now?

10 Things Writers Can Learn From Jane Eyre

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. thomas h cullen says:

    With The Representative, the only source of wisdom I took from was myself: all its characters; all its general concept; all its individual plot points; all its iconicism(s) – literally, not a single aspect of any of this was derived from somewhere else. The entire manifestation was all me.

    As for as something that lessons can be learnt from, The Representative’s a gold mine.

    I find the list agreeable; number 10 especially prompted me to think about The Representative.

  2. I have been re-reading the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. This series has stuck with me since I first read them two years ago. I wanted to know why….. what did the author do to construct such powerful memories. The character is ex-military, and he is definitely an anti-hero. He usually ends up with a different ‘side-kick’ for each story, and sometimes that character gets killed off in the story. Love the series and the character, hope the author doesn’t get tired and decide to kill the mc anytime soon.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      That inevitably irritates me when an author kills off a character just because he’s tired of writing him. Just give him a happy ending and call it good.

      • thomas h cullen says:

        It undermines the character’s reality anyway, to just keep writing them.

        I’ll believe more in the story, if understanding it as a standalone.

        Croyan will never get a continuance, whatsoever: giving him one would be to insult his reality.

  3. I’ve been reading Brandilyn Collins’ thrillers. The lesson: Be sure to work hard on conflict and suspense. She does those aspects particualrly well. And she puts her portags through gut-wrenching, hellish situations (external and internal). Another reminder that I’ve just got to toughen-up more on my characters.

    Looking forward to your Jane Eyre annotations. Your points already are correcting a few of my blind spots.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Charlotte Bronte is extremely good at being nasty to her characters–not just generically, but specifically where it’s going to especially hurt each character.

  4. Have you read WIDE SARGASSO SEA? I enjoyed learning the history of Rochester’s hidden wife.

  5. What an excellent list this is. I loved the first. Characters have to be brave. For us to care about them to follow their journey we must admire them. I’ve just finished reading Game of Thrones. Some of the imagery in that supports your comment about weather….especially Winterfell. Weather does create mood and symbolizes the world we don’t see.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Fantasy novels are often excellent with their use of weather (especially winter, seems like). The symbolism runs deep.

  6. I’ve learned a lesson similar to what William has, from my rereading of the Dresden Files series: kick that character when he’s down! Jim Butcher always manages to find a way to make things worse for his protagonist, and then when he just might get out of that mess, he finds he actually made it *worse*. Great reminder to always ask, “What’s the worst that can happen now?”

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      One of the best things i took away from Jane Eyre was how to create supremely personalized “worst” moments that go beyond just general bad things to bad things that whack the protagonist right in his personal weak spots.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Annotated Classic. She has a great little video about it on her award-winning blog called “10 Things Writers Can Learn From Jane Eyre.” I can’t wait to get my hands on her […]

  2. […] Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics, with notes by K. M. Weiland, will be available for purchase July 24, 2014. But Weiland – best-selling author, writing mentor, and creator of the Helping Writers Become Authors website – gives us a fun sneak peek into her upcoming release in her blog post: 10 THINGS WRITERS CAN LEARN FROM JANE EYRE. […]

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