Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twelve: Cooking A Novel!

Captains ChairBlog

Ahoy, Mateys!

Today I am going to talk about how I cook, or uh, write a novel.

Personally, I see a lot of correlations between cooking and writing. And you’d be surprised how easy it is to compare the publishing industry to the food service industry.

This past weekend I was on a road trip with the Fam to a wedding. A quick drive there on Friday, wedding on Saturday, drive back on Sunday. It was a 10 hour drive each way, so there was lots of time to think about my writing process. And write. I did some writing too. Good thing I don’t get car sick.

For those that don’t know, I have contracts with Severed Press and Permuted Press through June 2015. I will basically be writing a novel a month for a good while. Now, some may shriek at the idea, freak out over the lack of time that gives me, worry that I won’t put my all into the novels. Don’t fret, folks, don’t fret.

Why? Because I write fast. If I had a year to write a novel I’d still write it in a month. That’s just what I do.

Some may try to argue that a year would give me time to polish the novel, make it the best it can be. I say that I would end up watching Netflix for eleven months. I don’t need a year to write a 75k novel. That’s the writer guy I am.

And let me tell you why a month works for me.

You see, I write like how I cook. I used to be a professional cook. Did it for a living for ten years. So, I have a system. I am organized, I have ideas and tastes in my head before I turn the stove on. Same with my writing.

The first draft is my mis en place. It’s my prep, my getting everything ready so it is there at hand. I know the story I want to write and in my first draft I get everything out of the fridge and pantry, chop it, slice it, dice it, parboil it, what have you. All the components for the novel are laid out in front of me, ready to do their thing. The first draft is raw; edible, but not palatable. It needs to be fully cooked.

That’s the second part of my process- the cooking. You’d think that would be the first part, but it’s not. A first draft is just prep for the real magic. When I go back over my first draft that’s when I apply the heat, add the seasoning, let the book simmer a bit to break down the tough bits and bring out the flavor. I watch the book and make sure it doesn’t boil over and scorch. I do all of this by just going over my novel, looking at it on my computer monitor, fixing the typos, reworking sentences, exapnding description, merging characters, cutting/adding scenes. I’m sauteing, broiling, roasting, grilling, whatever.

The last part is when I actually print out the manuscript and grab my trusty red pen. This is the final adjustment and tweak part. It’s just like tasting a dish and adding more salt, a touch of pepper, maybe a smidgen of honey to cut that bitterness. The third part is where the meal really comes together for me. I’ve prepped, done the major cooking, now all I have to do is make sure the finished product is the best it can be.


Then the novel is sent off for proofreading. I think of this as plating before the dish is served. Make it look all pretty like.

And just like all meals, once it’s done it’s time to start again. Month by month this is my process. Prep, cook, tweak.

Many writers like to state that the first draft is shit. I think of it more as raw. It’s not ready, but that doesn’t mean it sucks. Not every writing process, just like cooking style and/or palate, is the same. Each writer must find their own way in the literary kitchen. Again just like cooking, it’s easier for some, harder for others, but it is always the end result that matters.

I don’t worry how long it takes me to write a novel, I just make sure it’s done when I serve it. If it needs more time then I take more time. If it only needs a quick sear then I take that bitch off the grill and get it to a plate! The novel is done when the novel is done and I’m totally cool with that.


Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).


Posted on March 26, 2014, in Views From The Captain's Chair! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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