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

Sneak Peek at The Annotated Jane Eyre’s “Workbook” + Giveaway

Only a month to go until the release of the book that has taught me more than just about anything I’ve ever written. Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic comes out August 1st, 2014 (stay tuned for info about my biggest drawing yet–with some absolutely insane prizes sponsored by Writer’s Digest). In the meantime, here’s a peek at the workbook in the back of the book–what advance reviewer Melanie Martilla says is “worth the investment alone.”

Starting this week and running throughout the month, I’m also going be hosting three “mini” prize giveaways as a little warm up between now and the launch. This week, I’m giving away two copies of marketing guru Rochelle Carter’s new book The Seven Step Guide to Authorpreneurship–for which I was honored to write the foreword. If you’re in the beginning stages of trying to figure out how to take your writing from passion to profession, this book is a great place to start. Check out the Rafflecoptor widget at the bottom of the post to enter.

And now the sneak peek at The Annotated Jane Eyre‘s workbook!

Theme and Symbolism

Jane Eyre: The Writer's Digest Annotated Classic by K.M. Weiland and Charlotte Brotne1. To discover your story’s main theme, analyze your protagonist’s character arc and whittle it down to its core discovery (e.g., “love conquers all” or “finding contentment”).

2. Watch one of your favorite movies or read one of your favorite books. Can you identify the theme? How is this theme presented through the subtext? Is it ever stated outright?

3. What moral questions does your story raise? Does your story insist upon any definite answer to any of these questions? If so, consider how this either strengthens or weakens the power of your theme.

4. Take a look at a scene that doesn’t initially seem to have any important thematic resonance. Is there something under the surface you can magnify to better reflect the theme?

5. Write a list of images you associate with your theme. Now do the same for each of your main characters. Keep these images in mind as a way to present your theme metaphorically through symbolic motifs.

6. What’s the weather in your most important scenes? Does it reinforce or contrast the tone and thematic underpinnings of the scenes’ events? Could you bolster any of these scenes by altering the weather?

7. Is there a place in your story that means one thing at the beginning (e.g., sanctuary), but which will evolve into something else (e.g., prison)? Write a description in which you present these contrasting views metaphorically.

8. List all character, place, and animal names in your story. How many of these names offer a hidden significance to the story? Can you reinforce tone or foreshadowing by giving some of the names a deeper meaning?

9. Write a scene in which your character wakes up from a dream. Without directly referring to any events in the story, sum up the dream in a way that symbolizes your character’s inner conflict.

Other Topics in the Workbook Include:

Structure and Plot

Character and Character Arc

Conflict and Tension


Setting and Description



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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.


  1. Keeping my fingers crossed that I win! 🙂 Also looking forward to your book coming Aug 1st. Congratulations!

  2. thomas h cullen says:

    Katie, enjoy the oncoming weeks. (And here’s hoping that Croyan and Mariel get discovered in along the same time – truly, theirs is a text for people all over the world to embrace).

    This was another post of intelligence.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Thanks, Thomas. Best of luck with your book as well.

      • thomas h cullen says:

        The reality, that time’s always passing but that reality itself is never changing is only making me stronger, and stronger:

        I’m thankful, Katie, that you wish me luck with The Representative, however the truth about it, is that it isn’t that sort of text – yes, this is an unprecedentedly profound work of literature, but it’s also an unprecedentedly profound political weapon.

        Croyan, and Mariel – as indeed a such weapon, their text will never be surpassed.

  3. Lizzie Madsen says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂
    To answer the question in ‘Leave a Blog Post Comment’, I try to subtly bring the theme of the story to the forefront in the main character’s dreams or as underlying objects in conversations. Once I hit the third plot point, I make the theme much clearer by showing major growth in the characters, and the eventual resolution where this piece they were missing gets knocked into place.
    But yeah, theme is definitely something I struggle to bring to life in my characters.

    Cheers 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Really, good characters almost inevitably equal a good theme. The more realistic their own struggles, the stronger the theme comes across–without our even trying too hard.

  4. Hi Katie,
    I’ve been waiting for this book. I anticipate that it will be a tremendous help to those of us who pursue story-craft skills.
    And a workbook at the back–I hadn’t noticed that before. Great. Smart!
    I plan on reviewing it at Amazon too, once I have read enough to know what I am talking about.
    This book is a brilliant idea.

  5. Really enjoyed the sneak peak. Interested in seeing the whole product.

  6. Thanks for the sneak peak. It has some great tips!

  7. Hi Katie,
    Thanks for doing this giveaway! That book seems so good. I have already enjoyed your book “Structure your novel” very much and I can’t wait to read Rochelle’s!
    Congratulations on your new book, looking forward to reading it 🙂
    Take care

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Rochelle’s book is a great primer on getting started on the business end of writing. Best of luck in the drawing!

  8. Thank you for this blog. Still following you….. Can’t wait for the book.

  9. Eric Stallsworth says:

    Aside from the contest, this is a great post. I hadn’t thought about theme throughout the story but I guess I should. Now then, put my name at the top so I can win that thing lol. 😉

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Theme is like the cream on top of the story’s milk: mix it in and the whole thing gets that much richer.

  10. I’m excited for the Annotated Jane Eyre. I’ve already preordered it through Writer’s Digest. To answer the question about bringing my theme to life, I lace it in to my protagonist’s Arc and find another character to contrast my protagonist’s emotions and actions.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Which is a GREAT way to implement theme. It’s in the contrast between characters where theme really comes to life.

    • thomas h cullen says:

      A foil. A character, whose emotions and actions contrast the protagonists – there is this, in The Representative. (Even if instinct were to tell me not to think of it that way).

      What’s your story situation Nicole?

      In broad strokes, The Representative’s is three Trokans being drawn together, over the same resource.

  11. Can’t wait for August 1st!

  12. Jan Swanson says:

    Just want to give you thanks for helping me with my writing.
    I have ordered your book! I am looking forward to receiving the annotated copy in August. I have a Great Pyrenees dog lying at my feet named Bronte. I am not entering the contest for a book, I already have Rochelle Carter’s book.

  13. For me, theme is so very hard to grasp, my best tricks for bring theme to life in my stories is to make sure that my protagonist’s action always has a connection to the theme, at the same time it helps my story stays on the right track as well.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I find the best way to look at theme is to see it as the kernel of truth at the heart of the character’s arc. Although your story may well deal with many other important topics, *that* one is what the story is really about.

      • thomas h cullen says:

        I was conscientious of this, with Croyan and Krenok; the number of times, thinking them as contrasts of one another.

        It doesn’t show in the writing though. I told you before Katie – I in the end didn’t want to indulge Krenok, instead just use him when necessary.

  14. Sounds like a good book. I’d love a shot to win it. As far as bringing theme to life: When I actually notice the theme emerge, I weave it into the subplot and make a contrast. For instance, in current work, the theme is on the huge effect a father/child relationship has, for good or ill. So, there is the contrast of children messed up by dads and children blessed by dads. And then the spiritual theme of God as the ultimate dad.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Great approach. Theme comes to life no where with more strength and subtlety than in contrasts.

  15. Very excited for this release! It’s been a while since I’ve read Jane Eyre–I’m looking forward to picking up a copy of this and learning some good writerly stuff. ^_^
    I try to work theme into the arcs of both my protagonist and antagonist, and revealing it through the juxtaposition of those two characters. I like contrast.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      It’s a beautiful thing: that place wherethe character arcs of protagonist and antagonist cross over. All kinds of interesting things can happen there.

  16. Becky Avella says:

    Jane Eyre has been a favorite since I discovered it in 8th grade. I can’t wait to learn from your insights. 🙂

  17. Becky Avella says:

    Oops..I was just reading on the Rafflecopter what I was supposed to comment on when my thumb accidentally hit “I Commented”and now I can’t access the instructions. I read as far as “Tell me your tricks…”

    After reading the other comments, though, I think I got the gist of it. When I’m trying to develop the theme, I start with the main character’s lie and try to build scenes that will show him the truth. I also try to build subplots and minor characters that highlight that truth without being preachy.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Which is as good as answer as there is. 🙂 In fact, that second paragraph pretty much sums up my entire approach to theme.

  18. thomas h cullen says:

    Have you ever felt that following storytelling schematics like you described has undermined your effort to be sincere?

    That’s an instinct reaction I have. I’m not sure how much that sincere storytelling needs to be tied to such narrative principles.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      No, not at all. Understanding the conscious principles of storytelling allows us to more functionally bring out the depths of the subconscious story’s power. Once we understand how stories work and how best to utilize their tools to our benefit, we stand a better chance of getting out of our own way.

      • thomas h cullen says:

        Thanks Katie. Really it was just curiosity about Becky’s perception on the matter – but thanks for the contribution anyway.

        Honestly, to just see the look of The Representative is to be introduced to a whole new tangible idea of literature.

        Just visually speaking, it’s entirely never before known of.

      • steph newham says:

        So true, I struggled when I first started out on a novel. I wrote organically, let my characters take me where they would – they led me into chaos. Now with more tools (thank you) at my command I can plot and structure my framework which makes it far easier to organise free written scenes as I mostly have a goal somewhere up ahead.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

          I had to learn that lesson the hard way too. Writing is so much easier (and more fun) when we have a destination in mind and know how to get there.

  19. I’m really excited about reading the annotated Jane Eyre! I read it a long time ago and want to read it again with greater understanding this time.

    I would love to read The Seven Step Guide to AuthorPreneurship too! I’m sure I’d learn so much from it.

  20. Sara Marschand says:

    I am to new to writing to have a list of developed tricks for developing theme–YET. I have, however, been spending quality time with your books on outlining and structuring novels. Thank you for the wealth of info as I teach myself how to construct a novel!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying them! Makes my day to hear they’ve been useful.

  21. Jordan Quintana says:

    Here’s to hoping I win the drawing! Either way, I can’t wait to read your newest book when it releases. Best wishes!

  22. Janet Evans says:

    I looking forward to The Annotated Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books and I’m planning to read it yet again alongside your book once it’s released. It would be great to one day be published but that dream gets pushed back onto the shelf if ever it invades my mind too much. Right now I am going through the first major revision of my first book that isn’t tucked away in a box and I’m having so much fun. I love the characters, the plot and the best part was discovering who each character became as I wrote. Now trying to weave each thread, not give away too much, and put into words the images in my mind is where my focus is now targeted. Your book Structuring Your Novel was a tremendous help in guiding me to better structure and I look forward to The Annotated Jane Eyre to help me in my quest in understanding why some books grab me and won’t let me go.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      The Annotated Jane Eyre features the complete text of Jane Eyre itself, so you can read the notes and the text all at the same time. I’m so glad you found Structuring Your Novel useful!

  23. steph newham says:

    Katie, I’m new to your site, but find the straightforward and concise information on the writing craft most helpful. I’ve been able to use many of your articles during my first re-draft and feel I’ve improved the structure of my novel considerably. Having read this post I shall develop my themes at a more conscious level. My focal character is the queen bee and her community the hive, the community is enclosed by wild nature and a barrier of mountains. These both protect and imprison. My protagonist, is a loner, away from the community for long periods, only alive on the bleak fells with animals for company. For him the village is a prison. These are only my first thoughts, but thank you for encouraging me to explore them. Good luck with the new book.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I love it when important thematic issues can be seen from both sides – the prison vs. sanctuary dilemma is a great example. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site!

  24. So excited for this new book!! I can’t wait to get a copy to read all your annotations and hopefully learn more about my own writing.


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