How do you learn to write a novel?

How do you learn to write a novel? by Naomi Tepper

Answer by Naomi Tepper:

Writing a novel, all 70,000 words plus of one, can be a daunting task indeed. Even though it sounds intimidating, when it comes to novels, 70,000 words isn’t that long. When it’s all typed up and bound in a beautiful cover, the resulting book is only about two inches thick. A lot of novels can actually hit 80-90,000 words or more. (Check out these colossal word counts of epic fantasy novels!)

To get to 70k, however, you need to start with word one. What's stopping you?

A lot of writers sit on great novel ideas for years but are too intimidated to get started. You might be facing a procrastination problem, or you might just not know where to start.

To Outline or Not to Outline? That Is the Question

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but I’ll tell you some advice from my experience authoring six published books and drafting several more.
I always start with a brief outline. I don’t put a lot of detail into it (unless it’s non-fiction, but that’s a topic for another discussion) because I know, as I get into the writing process, that details are going to change. I’m not the only author who has discovered that characters will have their “own ideas” about what should happen as you go along.

For me, the purpose of an outline is to help avoid the absolutely terrifying stare of the blank page. Being at word zero of 70k+ is scary.

An outline is easy to construct, and it provides some footing for you to get started.

Write with Abandon

After you have created a brief outline, it's time to get to work! When writing the first draft of your novel, your best friend is “abandon.”

What do I mean?

I mean write without a second thought for what you are putting down on your page. Don’t self-edit as you go; you can fix problems later. Much later. For now, your goal should only be to dive in and write as many words as humanly possible that are even loosely related to your core idea.

The amazing thing about this method is that you will come up with characters and plot twists that you might have never before imagined. Allow your story to carry you away like the swift current of a raging river. Let go, and don’t try to swim to shore. You’ll be delighted to discover the amazing places the current will take you.

An Idea Is Just a Seed

An idea does not a novel make. Of course you are always going to start with an idea, but treat your idea like a seed. Just like when you plant a seed, water it, and help it grow, so, too, are you going to develop characters, themes, and plot elements to make that teeny, tiny idea expand into a full-grown novel.

Try to Finish Your First Draft Quickly

It’s important to finish your first draft within a reasonable amount of time. What is reasonable? Three months for a 70,000 word draft is very reasonable.

Writers who participate in NaNoWriMo are actually encouraged to write 50,000 words in a single month. (It’s hard! I’ve done it.)

The best way to finish your draft in three months or less is to write a little bit each day. If you are human, you are likely working a full-time job, have a family, and live a busy life. You want to carve out some sacred writing time. This could be the first hour after you wake up every morning, or perhaps it’s during your 45-minute train commute to work. The point is, write every day, and don’t let up until your draft is finished.

Use Scrivener and Write Like a Pro

When I write blogs, I use MS Word or Google Docs, but when I write a full-length book, I use Scrivener.

Novel writing has a lot of organizational considerations that just aren’t relevant to smaller bits of writing, and Scrivener covers these nicely.

Scrivener is set up so that you can divide your novel into short chunks or scenes and move them around so that they make more sense. This is a lot easier than doing a cut and paste in Word.

Of course, don't worry about shifting ANY scenes around until after you have completed your first draft.

In fact, I would recommend just opening your word processor or even an old-fashioned notebook so that you can hack out your first draft with absolutely zero concern for structure or order. (George R.R. Martin apparently uses a DOS computer from the 1980s to draft his masterpieces). Once your draft is ready for some work, use Scrivener to cut, revise, and rearrange your scenes.

Drafting Your Novel Is Only the Beginning!

Assuming you finish your first draft, you're going to have to revise, revise, revise, and have your novel edited and/or peer reviewed. Then you'll have to go through the publishing process (either self-published or traditional–both are a lot of work in their own ways). Finally, you'll have to promote the heck out of your book if you want anyone to read it.

For more information read my blog post  How to Start a Novel You've Been Wanting to Write for Years

Good luck!

How do you learn to write a novel?


Movie Review: Commando 2 (2017)

Are you kidding me ?? This was a WASTE !

Waste of time and money and resources. I’ll leave the story-line for later, lets begin with the star attraction of this entire movie – Vidyut Jamwal. If you are wondering why I began the review with “Are you kidding me ??” this is the answer – Vidyut Jamwal.

I’ve a high consumption rate of action, especially martial arts, based movies. The guy who WOW-ed me in Commando and the guy whose action scenes I’d been hungrily following on YouTube (be it South Indian movies or bit-roles in mainstream Bollywood) where’d he go ? Holiday was a trash copy of Thupakki. I’m still wondering why he didn’t reprise his role or if a certain Mr. Akshay Kumar had a say in the matter? Or has Vidyut Jamwal lost his appetite and hunger to provide great entertainment? Between exploding onto the consciousness (2013) and now (2017), exactly what has been going on? He’s done 2 music videos in 2016, still teasing & whetting a greedy action junkie’s appetite. And what do we get for the wait ? We are handed Commando 2. Yawn, yawn and more yawn and one more for a good measure. Seriously, are you kidding me ?? Man, Tiger Shroff has done better in this gap with action.

The main theme appeared to be action. His introduction was okay, even if it tried to ape the Indonesian movie – The Raid (2011). I’ll give him a break on that, even though a similar copy-cat act worked for Tiger Shroff in Baaghi. His next action scene comes up after “the plot has been established”. You will be excused for puking on it. From hereon a classic Hindi slang is applicable – Zabardasti thoosna (Forcibly stuffing). His partners either turn on him or die. Zabardasti thoosna # 1. The cat-n-mouse at Terminal 21. Zabardasti thoosna # 2.

Then, the third action sequence when he’s pursuing his target in the ‘airfield-junkyard’ (?). Really? Do airports have that kind of a waste area, a potential disaster zone. This was legal grounds for Thai officials to launch a lawsuit for misrepresentation. Or are their airfields really so dirty and hazardous?. Ok FTS, let’s consider the action. For once, I was tricked (positively). I thought the intervening hood was a ninja, but he was a bit different. Even the action was a bit different. I liked the props used in the first half of this third fight and even the stunt work. Point goes to the entire team. But it had a chink in the armour. Ada Sharma. No fault of hers. She’s done the most decent job, in a movie parading some potential heavyweights like Shefali Shah and Adil Hussein. On the latter, he’s going off on a path similar to Naseeruddin Shah (only hope he doesn’t start giving media-bytes like Mr. Shah). And of course, he is not only wasted, his role is less than Amitabh Bachchan’s in The Great Gatsby, who had a slightly longer screen time (I call both occurences tragic, given the actors in question).

{Naseerudin Shah does well in properly etched characters and uplifts a movie and walks away with praise and one soon sees him in a masala commercial flick, which has been steadiy digressing from good to okay to puke-able. That’s for another day.}

Right, back to Commando 2 and the second half of the third fight sequence. Ada Sharma is swinging a chain like a bimbette. When the main set of threatening hoods is done with by Vidyut (Zabardasti thoosna # 3), local hoods emerge. Oh Deven Bhojani, Deven Bhojani… tsk,tsk,tsk. Terminal 21 is supposed to be an international airport. First you give the audience a sci-fi airfield (junkyard, was it?), then super-henchies (and they supposedly just evaded ‘tight airport security’, right?) and these second set of hoods? Were they, like, in a queue behind the super-henchmen who evaded the airport security and they too evasively meandered in. Clap. Clap. Clap. And take one more, if that’s what you wanted Deven, CLAP! We’ll get back to Deven shortly. So Ada Sharma and Commando are surrounded now, both should’ve taken on the second set of hoods as a team right? Well they did. However, the director thought it was a good idea to let Vidyut Jamwal hog the limelight. Ada did beat 2 guys (?), but was more like an extra in that scene. Surely Deven, you could’ve given her atleast 30seconds of good dedicated action time to showcase her skills, or were there other factors to consider? Again, comparing it to Baaghi; Dainty Shraddha Kapoor did a great job with her stunts and her Baaghi director should be thanked for trusting in her. Deven Bhojani absolutely shows no faith Ada Sharma. Zabardasti thoosna # 4. And Commando Karan Dogra? Ho ho ho, feather touch eskrima moves. Was Chi flowing through that the hoods fell as if on full impact? QUESTIONABLE and UNCONVINCING !! I’m sure plenty of people put in a lot of hard work, but the stunts came-off awfully. Commando was just touching them and they were going down Zabardasti thoosna # 5. IMO, Sunny Deol does it better, i.e. acting out the aggression. That’s what was required. That’s what we expect from a good action star (am forced to relegate Vidyut to a wannabe after this), act out the aggro, dude!

Anyways, moving on. Commando puts on his thinking hat (really wish I could get a hold of the script writer! Grrr) and tracks down the first clue/target. It’s a cook, who’s found hasta-la-vista-babied. Dead (Zabardasti thoosna # 6). They find a second clue and hilariously decipher it using ‘ a hi-tech forensic lab’ (Lol + Zabardasti thoosna # 7). Jamwal and Ada Sharma then pursue a new target. Here, again, I find an innovative concept which I shan’t give away, except that it contained a scene ‘inspired’ from James Bond’s Spectre. But the execution of scenes which followed were literally executions of the scenes. This is followed by another face-off and another death. Boo-effing-hoo. Zabardasti thoosna # 8. The baddies scoot-off with a valuable item post this face-off (if it was one?).

Next was the BIGGEST Zabardasti KA thoosna. Zabardasti thoosna # 9. A shell game. It’s was shabbily done. This appears to be a conscious effort on the part of Deven Bhojani. The only other thing could be Vipul Amrutlal Shah having ‘suggested’ inputs. Tony Jaa’s free running from Ong-Bak gets copied, yet again! It’s been done to death! Honestly.

And then we come to the lame-a** climax. Here, if I were to compare the two climax fight scenes of Commando 1 & 2, the former wins hands-down by a looong shot. In fact the second one was a farce of a fight. It further makes me think if Vidyut Jamwal was even required for this movie ? Thumbs down fellows (the production team). No thought(s) visible. Post the fight a piecing together followed. Half-a-hope lit up.

A few things are puzzling. The movie being in production for long, how did it incorporate Nov 8th’s demonitization so specifically? Then 2 more questions. When the airport fight takes place, how does it take the baddies sooo long to escape. Did their CCD order take time? A final puzzle, how slow is the internet speed for downloads in Thailand? That too for a gazillionaire scamster?

Now for the acting and story-line. Ada Sharma despite the mediocrity of her role stands out this hashed-up worse-than-street-food offering. She was the highlight IMO. Vidyut Jamwal was making an effort and it showed.

Story-line? Are you kidding me ?? The idea was good. Direction was … well better left unsaid.. I’ll just say very politely it was testing. How does Deven Bhojani even get to direct Commando 2? He’s a veteran TV actor. Yes, he was awarded for Sarabbhai Vs Sarabhai. But look at the genre history he’s associated with – Comedy and non-action based stuff.

And he’s just been associated with very few mainstream Bollywood commercial movies. Even in those what was his role? He must’ve come closest to witnessing the concept of action in Andaz (1994)’s climax and Agneepath (2012), much less being involved. And that qualifies him to direct Commando 2 ?? Are you kidding me ??

So unless you’re a die hard Vidyut Jamwal fan (like yours truly), don’t watch it. It’s a ‘waste of a lot of things’ theory marrys ‘how pathetically a brain can work’.

Salamat sa pagbisita

Kumusta, Hello and Namaste 🙂 🙂

Masaya ako na iyong binisita. Umaasa ako na nagustuhan mo ang aking blog Motographillus . Ikaw ay malugod na bisitahin muli. 🙂

(with the help of Google translate)

I’m happy you visited . I hope you liked my blog Motographillus . You are welcome to visit again. 🙂

Best wishes





Clouds in play funnel into forms,

a world t’is new with some ol’ norms,

cluster of society a village built around,

where rivers below rough, glide sharp wound


Bobbing, weaving, sliding drawn lines,

pencil then colours thus a picture bind,

lie tunnels locked in the depths of mind,

curious unearthing reveals creative-a-mine


Imageries dance movements animate,

scarce soul-kissing songs, hum soft reverberate,

to misty dreams beckon open gates,

in moments frozen a journey awaits


Floats a roar, echoes deep-a-call,

through razor terrains, where raining words fall,

Be known. No more unknown fall.

Motographillus smiles, warmly welcomes all



A humble dedication to all visitors to

A Fun Movie Review @ Motographillus: Phantom Part 4


The Ooh ! Ah! Ouch!

[It’s a fun review.  The author’s PJs and humour are not intended at hurting anyone’s sentiments. My apologies if it does. Enjoy. :)]

Daniyal receives instructions to head to Karachi, where another RAW asset will help them escape. Nawaz feigns pregnancy (ain’t it easy?) and helps evade a security check. The Ooh: They’re stopped (yes, again) at a desolate check-post at night (Yo! Are you telling me there is SO much discipline??? Uh-umm…Note-to-self: It’s a Bollywood movie, silly boy). Having switched number plates, their car can’t be identified (Ah!) . The policemen inquire about their destination and request for one of their men to be dropped off. As the policeman is about to climb into the Suzuki Gypsy, the original number plate is discovered (Ouch!) leading to a shootout. Nawaz and Daniyal effectively overpower and secure the handful. Khalid tragically has been shot dead.

The duo reaches the Karachi port and locates their contact. As they sail towards international waters, to an awaiting Indian naval vessel, a Pakistani warship patrolling the waters halts them. A search follows but, duo hidden underwater, aren’t found. Several rounds are fired (intuitively?) into the sea. The undercover agent kicks a life saving buoy into the water, as the Pakistani navy men order the craft back to the port.

The Indian navy sets to turn back as the GPS seems to heading back to the port. RAW officer Samit implores them to get there and rescue Daniyal. As the navy has been strictly instructed not to venture in Pakistan’s territorial waters, the officer in charge declines. Samit’s patriotic vitriolic, leads all the navy men to do some soul-searching.

Daniyal and Nawaz resurface and grab the buoy. Nawaz jokes that they’d better swim to Mumbai for the promised cup of tea. Daniyal requests her to have one for him too, then releases the buoy. Mortally wounded, he drowns. Nawaz dives after him unsuccessfully to try and rescue him. Aggrieved she gets back to the buoy. In a few moments a submarine surfaces. Samit climbs out and spots her. He understands that Daniyal is dead and executes an emotional posthumous salute. Nawaz is rescued and received honourably by the Navy.

A navy boat drops off Nawaz near the Taj Hotel, Mumbai. A crowd has gathered to celebrate the killings of the 26/11 perpetrators. A chaiwallah (tea-vendor), offers Nawaz a free cup of tea. He explains his son was a waiter in Taj who’d been killed during the terror attack and he was feeling vindicated today. Hence, he’d be giving free tea to all. Nawaz requests for another cup, to keep her promise to the dying Daniyal.



A Fun Movie Review @ Motographillus: Phantom Part 3

The Rally

[It’s a fun review.  The author’s PJs and humour are not intended at hurting anyone’s sentiments. My apologies if it does. Enjoy. :)]

Khalid, Daniyal and Nawaz reach Hariz’s rally. Umvi’s doctor reaches the jail carrying a lethal dose packed by Bibi. As she’s winding up at the doctor’s office, a young (lab) assistant arrival startles her. He discovers a curios second medicine pack for Umvi’s dosage (which arrives only once a month). His innocent queries agitate Bibi who leaves the clinic, citing that she is unwell. The assistant judiciously rifles through the bills to locate the receipt for the second pack. Smelling one vial, he realises “Yo this ain’t medication!”. He frantically attempts calling the doctor, to prevent administration of the lethal dose.

At the rally Daniyal, grumbling, clears security checks and mingles through the crowd to reach a specific range to effect successful detonation.


[Two inputs:
  1. The range may recede owing to battery drainage.
  2. Nothing, but nothing, must come between the bomb and the R/C remote’s signal
from Inputs to Detonation


At Umvi’s jail, the doctor urgently rushes to Umvi (in great pain) and ignores the call!! Irked by the constant calls on the doctor’s phone, a guard at the jail-entrance answers it chiding the caller. The assistant implores that the doctor is stopped from administering the lethal dose. The guard’s slow a slow motion sprint to prevent the mishap fails. “The dose just got administered, Slow-poke”= Hasta la vista Umvi. ISI learns about the incident and dispatches soldiers to evacuate Hariz.

Just as Daniyal is about to detonate the microphone bomb, a security van {totally ignorant of the input (a) from Inputs to Detonation} intercepts blocking the signal. Daniyal hastily jostles to create a new angle  to send the radio signal for ka-booming and… Succeeds in causing the explosion!! Well just that, Hariz is escorted away before getting ka-boomed. A chaos breaks out, amidst which Greater Good’s Daniyal forcibly gets into a patrol truck and pursues the convoy transporting Hariz. There’s a “Get that man! He took our toy… patrol car!!” issued to other patrol units.

[ Psst..Supposedly production considered adding diapers, prams and a Wah. But a sincere belief is that some sinister person/persons edited all that. Bad bad Pudy-Cat. ]


Nawaz meanwhile attempts contacting Bibi, who sits huddled apprehensively and doesn’t answer the phone. Security forces reach her residence and break down the door.

{During this process, I was totally hoping she gets out unscathed.}

But alas, the security forces (aptly portrayed as scum-bags) barge in and find her. Upon being questioned why she committed the act, Bibi answers “For Pakistan” and shoots herself. Nawaz sadly learns about this and appears shattered (so was I).

After a car chase through alley-ways Daniyal rams into Hariz’s car with great force, sending it into a tumble. He alights and gets to Hariz’s upturned vehicle and locates Hariz. To a question Hariz had asked in the rally (“What does India want?”), he answers, “India wants justice*”. Gunning the terrorist dead, he escapes, as Hariz’s car explodes. He reaches Khalid’s car and the trio flee. ISI gets updated on the events and issues orders for all routes to be sealed.

{*EDITS AGAIN: Choicest Indian expletives were edited out for censorship requisites. Someone wished Mommy was still heading the Censor Board. Remember Omkara?}

At the RAW office, plans are being made help him escape via the sea. Roy informs the Home Minister about Daniyal and Hariz Sayyed’s assassination. The Home Minister, issues a media statement that declining India’s involvement in the deaths of the terrorists. Roy then informs the Minister that Daniyal is going to surrender leading to an off-screen communication to the PM, who authorises the naval assistance.

(Also off-screen, Roy’s Whatsapp message to the Home Minister – LMAO :P)

A Fun Movie Review @ Motographillus: Phantom Part 2

Dear Diary: Syria and Pakistan

[It’s a fun review.  The author’s PJs and humour are not intended at hurting anyone’s sentiments. My apologies if it does. Enjoy. :)]

A plane lands in Beirut. At a water-side bistro, Daniyal cajoles Nawaz to allow him to join up and hunt LeT (Lashkar-e-Toiba) terrorists operating in the Syrian conflict. Playing peek-a-boo with the Pakistani embassy in London, he’s contacted in his phone booth by ISI after the Pakistani High Commissioner denies affiliations with LeT. Unsuspecting ISI keen on learning about Mir’s mysterious death, cooperate with Daniyal. They try inviting him to Afghanistan. He declines. Cites ‘Too many Indian agents buzzing around’. He suggests Syria. They agree. ISI have nothing to lose and if required Daniyal’s dispensed as a conflict zone casualty.

Reaching Syria, Daniyal is snapped up and interrogated by LeT operatives. A video of the interrogation, where he begs for a chance to take revenge against India for disgracing him, is taken. An erupting skirmish obstructs signals, preventing the video from reaching ISI. Nawaz and security troops help rescue Daniyal, who pursues the fellow trying to send the video and kills him. Not before his name and double-cross is exposed.

Furious, ISI retaliates by eliminating an Indian diplomat. Modus operandi? The same as Mir’s death – gas explosion. Daniyal narrates of the unfortunate army incident which gets him wrongly tainted. Nawaz helps him enter Pakistani under an assumed identity. ISI is relentlessly hunts to identify Daniyal. RAW gets Daniyal hooked up with a local asset, a small restaurant owner – Khalid. Interactions between Khalid and his helper Shehzade Shehzad infuse minor comic relief. The latter persistently requests for a loan to wed his beloved.

As ISI obtains an early photograph of Daniyal, Daniyal scrutinizes Hariz Sayyed’s speech videos, notices a common link and plots Hariz’s assassination during his next rally. Another target – LeT co-founder Sabahudin Umvi, is lodged in a jail, but is living in the lap of luxury, even having fathered two children. The only way through to him is via his doctor, unfortunately a staunch LeT loyalist. Probing further they learn about the doctor’s nurse, Bibi.

Bibi, mother of a slain LeT militant, is bitter at the loss of her son and hates LeT. She shuns them when they’d come to offer condolences and provide a compensation (a sum assured to the families of deceased terrorists). Nawaz persuades her and many entreaties post, Bibi agrees to help.

{Sincerely, people, Bibi’s is the best and most endearing performance of the lot.}

Daniyal arranges for Shehzad’s marriage. Behind this gesture (to which Shehzad erupts joyous) lies a hidden agenda… arranging the means for Hariz’s death. Later, Daniyal and Nawaz decide to celebrate a successful mission by having tea at the Taj Hotel with chocolate pastries.