A change of scene!

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.


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):

  1. Am I happy with it?
  2. Is it of a standard I am proud of?
  3. Can it be improved?
  4. What one thing am I particularly pleased with?
  5. 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:

  1. Is it right for my intended audience?
  2. Is my protagonist easily identifiable?
  3. Does my protagonist stay active throughout the story?
  4. Does my protagonist change through the story?
  5. Does my protagonist overcome a series of obstacles?
  6. Does my protagonist show some of his/her flaws?
  7. Does my protagonist have a worthy antagonist?
  8. 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!


6 thoughts on “A change of scene!

  1. Linda,
    I can identify with some of your thoughts and comments. It’s important to be happy with a piece of writing, of a standard to be proud of, and pleased with a particular aspect of the work. With other points (novel writing) the protagonist has to be active, identifiable, changes over time,and have some flaws. And that worthy antagonist is equally important. Found you can go off at tangents all the time if you don’t keep these thoughts strongly in mind.

    Painting course? In school, drawing or painting a portrait of somebody I would surreptitiously go behind the Art Teacher’s back and ask fellow pupils to draw me a nose, a mouth, a chin etc. But who knows this may be the course for me!!


  2. Thank you Linda, your blog (as usual) was very informative. I will certainly try and use that checklist. I might also be tempted to try the painting!


  3. Many thanks for letting me know. I always try out the things I suggest in my blogs but it’s especially pleasing when it works for someone else. Do let us know how your writing is going. Best wishes.


  4. Hi Linda, Your blog was a particularly timely one. I’m working on something that’s quite different from anything I’ve written before. A scene I’d been looking forward to writing has been causing me problems. It wasn’t bad but I knew I could do better. So, this morning, using some of the questions you suggested, I rewrote the whole scene and I’m very pleased that I did. Thanks for the advice, Linda.


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