KM Weiland’s annotations of the classical masterpiece Jane Eyre are very timely. More than ever, scores of writers are getting published, and the mode...moreKM Weiland’s annotations of the classical masterpiece Jane Eyre are very timely. More than ever, scores of writers are getting published, and the modern reader is overwhelmed with the reading choice. Yet, there’s always an issue of the quality of written word, and in our era of fast publishing this issue is especially obvious.
Over the past decade KM Weiland has been blogging on writing craft. She’s released brilliant craft books on character creation, outlining and the story structure. She often quotes passages from famous books to show use or misuse of a particular technique, and this annotated version of Jane Eyre is her first systematic attempt at making a craft book where all the techniques she’s been teaching are exemplified in one masterpiece. I say systematic, because this book can be used as a study material for writing courses.
Topics KM Weiland touches here are:
- beginning and ending of the novel – hooks and the tone of writing. - character arc - three-act structure – plot points - scene structure (action and reaction, and more detailed scene mechanics) - plot progression through foreshadowing, the concept of a Lie, character arc - subplots and backstory - prose (use of symbolism, unique detail in description, subtext, sentence structure)
In her recent interview, KM Weiland mentioned that she wanted to focus on good things you can learn from this book rather than criticise Jane Eyre, which is the easiest way to alienate readers.
Personally, I think there are many elements in this novel that wouldn’t work well for modern writers. Yet, 200 years ago they were norm. For instance, St John gives Jane a poetry book, and Jane Eyre suddenly spends a page mulling over poetry and literature, – the scene is disrupted. These philosophical pauses, bits of non-fiction, were common in novels in the old times, now they’ll just distract the reader.
Another thing genre writers should be aware of is coincidences. What is the chance of a wandering orphan randomly stumbling upon a remote house in the English countryside, where three people who reside there who turning out her cousins?
Back to KM Weiland. She does mention that certain techniques such as blatant foreshadowing or prose modified to show an unusual accent may backfire. Yet these remarks are by no means criticise the Jane Eyre novel, rather they highlight the evolution writing craft has undergone in the last couple of centuries.
If you want to take your writing to the next level and find out how the modern story craft works within a context of the classical read, you’ll find this book helpful. Also, studying the basics of story-telling from craft books by KM Weiland and James Scott Bell and reading this book would go along nicely. Thank you , Katie, for another great resource!(less)
Avalanche starts off as a gripping medical thriller set in the Alps and transforms into the relationship drama and romantic suspense. Except for the f...moreAvalanche starts off as a gripping medical thriller set in the Alps and transforms into the relationship drama and romantic suspense. Except for the fact that the romance here is of no sexual nature. Imagine, a bond between a mother and her child, between two siblings. What happens when two people meet and develop a bond so tight and sublime that nothing seems to destroy it? Well, the circumstances may still destroy Nick and Mike. How will they cope with it if it takes more than they can bear? How can they evade vicious circles of doubt, worry, misjudgement, blackmail and outright hostility. Days after I've read it, I still can't stop thinking about it. If you have ever experienced a 'book hangover', you know you've come across something precious. Avalanche will sweep you away, you've been warned. (less)
Let's Get Visible is David Gauchran's second book on publishing, a sequel to Let's Get Digital, and it is focused on strategies of promoting ebooks an...moreLet's Get Visible is David Gauchran's second book on publishing, a sequel to Let's Get Digital, and it is focused on strategies of promoting ebooks and improving book sales. In my opinion, most of the book explores the common pitfalls of various book marketting strategies. Having been to several conferences for writers, I knew about 100% of what's in the book. There is no magic bullet. Perhaps, one single thing that will definitely help you to succeed in a commercial sense is publishing at least 2-3 books a year. A huge backlist is the best advertising, of course, provided that you have nice reviews and book quality. All the ways of dealing with Amazon algorithms that Gaughran discusses is a requirement now, but there is no exclusivity about it. As thousands of indie writers are aware of these strategies now, it makes it very hard for you to compete with your colleagues for readers' attention. Especiallly if you are not prolific and happen to write literary fiction. Overall, this book is great for newcoming writers who need to do all the things mentioned in the book to ensure they cover the basic discoverability channels. The rest is experimentation.(less)
'Nikolai and the Others' is a new play written by Richard Nelson about a gathering of Russian emigrant artists at a place in the woods of Connecticut....more'Nikolai and the Others' is a new play written by Richard Nelson about a gathering of Russian emigrant artists at a place in the woods of Connecticut. The time is the spring of 1948.
The modernist composer Igor Stravinsky and the famous choreographer George Balanchine are working on a new ballet, 'Orpheus'. Their compatriot friends, lovers, spouses, relatives are present at the house too; the only non-Russians there are an American called Chip and two young dancers, Nicholas and Maria.
The gathering is organised in honour of one of the guests, Sergey Sudeikin, a renowned but very much impoverished painter. Sudeikin is old beyond his years and frail, but his bitterness is lively. The Russians discuss Orpheus, politics in the world of culture, each other.
The play is named after a composer Nikolai Nabokov (N.B. not to confuse with the writer Vladimir Nabokov) who is, at the time when the play is set, has got an office job, part of which is helping out the bohemian Russians like Stravinsky with visa and other emigration issues.
Nikolai, or Nicky, Nika, is greatly inspired by fragments of 'Orpheus', presented to the gathering, and thinking to resume composing. But his inspiration is wounded when he learns of certain opinions of the group on his talent.
The play definitely works better off page, as any play does, the music and choreography should make it a really unforgettable piece. The snake-pit relationships within the Russian expat community are the undercurrent in this play, but they further enhance the dramatic effect of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.
I didn’t think the play showed any features specific to Russians apart from one: my people are very bad at containing their emotions or mean remarks.
The play is mostly dealing with materialism and if the theme of art has any room in the play at all, it is only in technical terms: the story of the myth, the dancing routine. The craft. Not the soul of art.
The only big art idea comes from Sudeikin’s speech:
'Strip away everything else from a person, and the art is what you have left'.
Perhaps, the point of the play is that geniuses are just like any other people. They have small problems in their lives too. They need to fit in. They need to be loved and understood, even if they come across as cold, distant and behave horribly to others. Let’s come up with an excuse that their venom is merely a by-product of their art.(less)
The Englishmen is a story of a long-distance romance between a Finnish girl and an English seaman. While I couldn't relate to any of the characters, t...moreThe Englishmen is a story of a long-distance romance between a Finnish girl and an English seaman. While I couldn't relate to any of the characters, they seemed very real to me. It is as if I was reading someone's autobiography. The prose flows well, and a little bit simplistic, which makes the book ideal for an international audience. Certain things are quite unique about this book. A contrast between Finnish and English mentalities. I thought the story explored nicely what it is to be young, and insecure. To me Kaisa came across as self-centrered, at times even selfish. Ironically, she criticised her father for failures she couldn't quite see in herself. Kaisa's family tensions have definitely added to the drama of the story. I didn't learn much about Kaisa outside her romance, even her friendship with Tuuli seemed quite superficial. Yet, I still wanted to know how her relationship with Peter would develop. Because I think it's easy to make a herione likeable, but it's far more difficult to portray your character in a way that makes her seem like a real person. The author Helena Halme totallly excelled at the latter.(less)
I must confess with this puzzle book I have discovered that my brain has gone rusty. I got about half of the puzzles right rather quickly, but the oth...moreI must confess with this puzzle book I have discovered that my brain has gone rusty. I got about half of the puzzles right rather quickly, but the others took time and I have been defeated by some of them. People go to gym but some of us forget that our brain needs regular exercise too. It's fun to do it with puzzles, plus it helps to prerare one for pub quizes. Some questions are easier to answer if you are British :) Challenge yourself now, are you as smart as you think?(less)