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


The project ‘CUT OFF’ of IMPREINT – and its social reflections

while I am very curious about the exercise and the objective of CUT-OFF, I find it quite endearing.
Keep up the good work IMPREINT.
Best Regards,
Indraneel 🙂

Voices from the Margins

Judit Paal – Guest Author

I’ve been following the artist IMPREINTsince I participated in his projectPortraitsand I always find fascinating how he arrives to involve the people through his artworks leaving them also the opportunity to participate and be involved.


CUT OFF January 13 at 9:00 am – Courtesy of IMPREINT

In the last project ‘CUT OFF‘ two things particularly catch my attention. The first one is the choice of the title: short, immediate, radical even hard. It talks about homelessness, about homeless people. But we don’t see them on the photo, because they are cut off from the photo, like they are cut off from the society. But in the project, I don’t see them like this: they are treated with respect and dignity, moreover, by not showing anyone personally he talks about every one of them.

The second is the challenge…

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An Invitation to All: Share your story on Good-Deeds

An Invitation to All: Share your story on Good-Deeds

Dear friends,I invite everyone to come forward and share any story which you feel is a good deed done. Please don’t feel shy or hesitate. If you want to share, I welcome you to do so. Let it be long, let it be 10 words. If you feel, it needs to be heard but have reservations, I invite you to share it. Please don’t feel embarassed. Please don’t think you are being vain. You are only sharing. It may actually help someone somewhere.

Indraneel 🙂

via An Invitation to All: Share your story on Good-Deeds.

Whoa! How Did I Get Here?

Interesting insight of the inner sphere. My personal belief is that every form of life derives an inspiration of its own to overcome and proceed on the journey of life. To share a concept delved in “Bedazzled”(the movie) – Heaven and Hell are right here on earth. It’s what we choose.

Notes from Haryana: The ever popular Sultanpur National Park

Hi there, thank you so much for going through my posts and liking them. I really like the photographs in your Sultanpur Article. Peace.


As the state government showcased Sultanpur habitat as part of its tableau in the just held Republic Day parade at the Rajpath in New Delhi, I thought of writing about this ever popular bird-watching destination located within the confines of NCR. The birding destination, I always held, is already very popular but a few interesting thoughts and queries after conclusion of the 2015 RD celebrations have brought me to share my experiences at the sanctuary. Owing to the birdlife, facilities and mostly the ease of access to this sanctuary, it remains to be one of the most organised bird-watching winter-destinations in the region.

Locally called Loharjung, a near-threatened Black-necked Stork Locally called Loharjung, a near-threatened Black-necked Stork. More images at Flickr Photoset

Located just 15km from Gurgaon on the Gurgaon-Farrukhnagar-Jhajjar highway, the brackish waters of the low-lying marshy tract is just a suitable habitat to attract as well as support a large…

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