© Bruce Goodman 25 June 2015
I have just received an unsolicited manuscript from a Mr. Currer Bell. The novel is called “Jane Eyre”. Clearly the author needs to read Stephen King’s advice on how to write a novel. There’s lots of other advice out there as well, especially on the blogs. A quick perusal of these postings would convince Mr. Bell not to waste a publisher’s time.
Firstly, the little child character, Jane Eyre, uses and understands multisyllabic words that barely, by their rarity, would be given a place in an unabridged Websters or a non-concise Oxford Dictionary. “Fifteen pounds is not enough for board and teaching and the deficiency is supplied by subscription… by different benevolent-minded ladies and gentlemen in this neighbourhood and in London.” The author must learn to get out of the mind of an adult and into the mind of a child.
Secondly, it is mildly acceptable to establish a conflict with a co-incidence, but to have a co-incidence as the resolution of a conflict is abysmal. After days of crawling through the mud and rain of swamps, penniless, and without food, Jane Eyre collapses accidentally on the remote doorstep of her hitherto unknown first cousins. Not only that, but an even remoter uncle has just died and left her twenty-four thousand pounds. Yeah, right!
Thirdly, an inadequate and ugly Mr. Edward Rochester is married to a mad lady who keeps setting fire to the house. Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre, the governess, have constant philosophical diatribes for pages. All they want is sex or, in Jane’s view, marriage. But oh no! they must talk. And talk. And talk. Four hundred pages could be squashed into one hundred and fifty if the editors of Mills and Boon took hold.
Fourthly, towards the end (I say “end” but really it’s about one hundred pages before the last paragraph) the Reverend Mr. St. John Rivers starts talking religion and doesn’t stop proclaiming salvation until the final sentence demands the slamming shut of the book.
As far as I’m concerned, the only occasion anyone would read such a novel is if there was no other book in the house and there was nothing on television.
Currer Bell shall be receiving the return of the manuscript and a copy of this review.
Now for the next unsolicited manuscript in the slush pile… It’s by Ellis Bell. I wonder if he’s related to Currer?