OAAA2017: Jody Casella’s Ten “Simple” Steps to Writing a Novel

April 14, 2017     erinthebooknut     Guest Post, OAAA

How to Write a Book in Ten* Simple** Steps***

By Jody Casella

  1. Well, first you’ve got to have an idea or two. If you’re stuck, you can base it on a real experience. For example, say there was this time in your life, a gazillion years ago, when you were best friends with a guy but you were also dating a different guy, and the guy you were dating broke your heart, but luckily, the guy-friend was there to help pick up some of the pieces.
  2. Throw something in that’s NOT true. Like, a dark secret in your main character’s past. Also, plop her into a really bad situation. Like, I dunno, maybe have the police pick her up and throw her in jail, except it’s not jail, exactly, because her town doesn’t have a jail, but—
  3. Eh, just write the darn thing— one big, meandery, drafty draft of a first draft.
  4. Put it away for three years and forget about it.
  5. Remember it and pick it up again and read it to your critique partner during a nine-hour road trip and when you’re finished, she says: “Huh, this is kinda funny and kinda sad and kinda interesting, you should revise it!”
  6. Revise it.
  7. Realize it’s not working and throw the entire draft out and start writing the book again from scratch, calling your critique partner every morning to complain about how the book is coming along, or rather, not coming along. Rework scenes. Add characters. Take out characters. Metaphorically pull your hair out in frustration. Lop off the first few chapters. Lop off the last few chapters. Muck around in the middle. Cry, metaphorically and literally.
  8. Finish the draft and send it to your critique partner.
  9. Rework the entire book again based on her awesome comments.
  10. Send it out into the “world.” (where “world” = your agent)
  11. Wait.


*I mean, eleven

**Okay, on second thought, maybe these are not so simple.

***IGNORE ALL OF THIS and write the book in whatever way works for you!


Jody Casella is an author and a former high school English teacher. Her YA novel THIN SPACE received a starred review from Kirkus and was a finalist on the 2014-15 Florida Teens Read List. She blogs, reviews books, speaks at libraries and schools, and teaches workshops at the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. She is the Regional Director of the Ohio Central/South region of SCBWI. PS: She hopes to have news about her next book soon!

Website: http://www.jodycasella.com/

Jody is giving away a book from another Ohio author, Natalie D. Richards. Enter here.

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