Announcing Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic

Jane Eyre: The Writer's Digest Annotated ClassicAnd…it’s launch day! Welcome to the official launch of Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. You can purchase the book in paperback, the Kindle e-book, or the Nook e-book. As always, I’m celebrating the book’s launch with PRIZES! So please join the party. There will be hourly prizes all day today and fun stuff all week, culminating  in a three-tiered Grand Prize giveaway, sponsored by Writer’s DigestRead more about the prizes and contest rules here.

“Before I die, I’m going to read all the classics.”

That was the resolution I made ten years ago. I started working through my local library’s shelves, alphabetically, looking for any book that fit my (very loose) definition of a classic: a title (or author) I recognized, written prior to 1950. For every “modern” book I read, I also read a classic. I started with Jane Austen’s Emma and, as of this writing, I’ve worked my way into the H’s with Homer’s Iliad, Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Hilton’s Lost Horizon.

I’m not even sure what prompted this lifelong commitment in the first place (I estimate it will take me until I’m seventy to reach Émile Zola). It just sounded like a good thing to attempt. As both a lover of words and a writer of words, being well read is about more than just bragging rights. It’s about ingesting and learning from the great stories of our world—on a personal level, as well an authorial one.

Looking back over even just the first third of my readerly journey, I am astonished by how much I have learned. Putting aside mere personal taste or a desire for entertainment, in order to pursue worthy authors of both genders, untold nationalities, and countless eras has broadened my personal horizons exponentially. I won’t even mention the fact that doing so has bombarded my little writing brain with masterful story after masterful story.

Or maybe I will mention it.

That, after all, is what brought Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic into my life.

I am absolutely thrilled to be able to announce the first book in this amazing new series from Writer’s Digest Books. When editor Rachel Randall approached me, two summers ago, about working on this project, I was floored. I can’t say I ever thought I’d see my name on a Writer’s Digest book. But even more than that, I was ecstatic.

Write a writing book about the classics? Are you kidding me? Of course, I’m in!

We wanted to take a look at Charlotte Brontë’s amazingly enduring novel and figure out: What has made this story beloved by so many people for so many years? What about the writing made it an instant bestseller in 1847? What is it about the storytelling that keeps this tale of a plain, repressed governess resonating with modern readers around the world? What sorcery did Charlotte Brontë (plain and repressed herself) weave to create the seemingly eternal power of Jane Eyre?

And more importantly, how can authors like you and me learn to cast that same spell in our own stories?

It had been all of ten years since I’d read Brontë’s epic story of star-crossed love, chilling suspense and horror, and breathtaking empowerment, but the story was still fresh in my mind. I pulled out my copy, highlighters and pen and notebook in hand, and started reading. Before I knew it, the paperback was dog-eared and covered in blue, pink, orange, and green highlights.

I expected I’d be able to find much within the book to illustrate important writing techniques (POV, conflict, characters, dialogue, and on and on). And I was right. On practically every page, examples of stellar technique jumped up under my nose.

What I didn’t expect was that plain Jane would revolutionize my own writing.

By the time I was finished annotating the text, I felt like my eyes had been opened to a whole new level of storytelling.

In the past, I had resisted the idea of analyzing favorite stories and movies. What if I took them apart so thoroughly I’d never again be able to look at them with the same sense of wonder? But the marvelous thing about writing this book is that not only did it not destroy my sense of wonder, it only made me love the story that much more.

As writers, we must study our craft. We read how-to books, blogs, and magazines that break down technique and tell us about story theory. And we’re all better off for having read them. But the single best way to study our craft is to read the masters—like Charlotte Brontë. Read them, love them, take them apart, put them back together, and transform your understanding of story forever.

Working on this book has been a true blessing for me. I have learned so much in writing it, and I hope I can share maybe even just a small part of that with all of you. As always, thanks for letting me walk with this writing road with the some of the coolest Wordplayers I know!

Announcing The Annotated Jane Eyre

Enjoy this post?

MainAvatar-1Want to make sure you never miss a post? Sign up for K.M. Weiland's mailing list to hear all the latest tidbits, get updates about new releases, and receive a free copy of her epic medieval novel Behold the Dawn.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.