Linda’s Blog August 10th
I’m going to start my blog this week talking about PAINTING. Don’t worry – you haven’t clicked on the wrong web page! But I’m a great believer in cross-training: learning skills in one discipline that can help in another.
In the past week, I’ve been taking part in the Rod Moore 5-Day Painting Challenge. It’s a free online course and as I already had paints, canvases and brushes, I thought it would give me a bit of a break from everything else that’s been going on recently.
Please don’t worry. I am not going to subject you to any of my attempts – I promise!
I’m not and never have been much good at painting. I’ve been on a couple of courses in the past twenty years, but it doesn’t come naturally, so I haven’t pursued it. But the offer of a free five-day challenge caught my interest and I have to say I really enjoyed it.
WHAT WHY HOW
There’s an hour’s video class each day, which you can stop and start at your convenience, plus daily assignments which you can, if you want to, post on a community web page. The teacher is an excellent communicator: he is good at explaining not only WHAT we should be doing, but WHY and HOW. On previous courses, I’d just been copying photos with the minimum of explanation. We all learn in different ways and I’m one of those who love to know WHY I am supposed to be doing something a particular way – the science bit if you like.
What really impressed me at the end of the course was a series of questions that Rod posed us about how we FELT about our paintings. Not only did I find them useful as far as my artistic endeavours went, but I found myself thinking that they could so easily be applied to creative writing as well.
So here are my questions to ask yourself when you have completed a story (or article):
- Am I happy with it?
- Is it of a standard I am proud of?
- Can it be improved?
- What one thing am I particularly pleased with?
- What has writing this story taught me?
At this point, I know quite a few writers will be asking WHEN should their writing be offered for public scrutiny. I’ve been on courses, and taught them, where you get writers reading their work that ranges from written an hour ago, written a week ago and left, written two weeks ago and edited a couple of times, to written three months ago and re-drafted four times.
It is entirely up to you when you present your work to others. My only caveat is that you should offer to others the best you feel you can do at that particular stage.
Something you are proud of
I’ve had students preface their readings with, “It’s not very good.” If it’s not very good, why subject other people to it? Always present something you are proud of. It might only be a first draft, in which case you can say so. You might feel the plot isn’t strong enough – ask for help. You might think you have too many characters – ask for others’ opinions. Just don’t say “it’s not very good”!
If you’re not sure your writing is ready for an audience, here is another set of questions. This will help you see if your story has been well structured and has all the elements it needs:
- Is it right for my intended audience?
- Is my protagonist easily identifiable?
- Does my protagonist stay active throughout the story?
- Does my protagonist change through the story?
- Does my protagonist overcome a series of obstacles?
- Does my protagonist show some of his/her flaws?
- Does my protagonist have a worthy antagonist?
- Is the resolution realistic?
Once you’re happy with those answers, then yes, you’re ready for an audience.
If, like me, you feel like a break and a bit of painting, here’s the link to the Five-Day challenge I did with the Rod Moore Academy.
Whether it’s writing or painting or both, have a good week!