Birthday – 23 January – Cathy Hopkins

Literary Birthday – 23 January – Cathy Hopkins

Happy Birthday, Cathy Hopkins, born 23 January 1953.


  1. There will always be people for and against you, and its pointless wasting time trying to win over some of the people who are against you. Spend time with people who are for you. Those relationships are worth it.
  2. Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it.
  3. My advice would be to go to your local library and borrow either the Writers’ Handbook published by MacMillan or the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook published by A and C Black. They can usually be found in the reference section of most libraries. Failing that you could buy a copy from a bookstore. It tells you just about everything you need to know about getting published, lists all the agents and publishers and tells you what they like to look at in the first instance: whether it be an introductory letter or the first two chapters or just an outline. I would also recommend that if you can do a creative writing course, do so, in fact do a few as there is so much to learn from all of them.
  4. I sometimes do a page on them [characters] in the beginning in three parts, physical – what they look like, social: where they live, who their family is, education, work etc then lastly, psychological: what they want, their goals, dreams, ambitions, disappointments, hang ups – everything that makes them the individual they are. After that, I often go through magazines and see if I can see a picture of someone who looks like I imagine my character then I’ll cut it out and put it on the notice board.
  5. [I get my dreams] anywhere and everywhere. All over the place. Talking to people,reading magazines, newspapers, dreams and sometimes ideas just come from nowhere.

Cathy’s Top 10 Writing Tips

  1. Use your five senses when writing a scene: sight – what a place looks like, how it sounds, how it smells, any tastes? And lastly, how it feels.
  2. Write every day. Don’t blab your story out to everyone. Only show it to those who will give constructive criticism.
  3. Create a sympathetic character that readers will like. Think about what they want more than anything in the world. Then think about lots of things that can get in their way. Then there’s your book.
  4. Raise questions early on in your book and delay the answers to make readers want to read on to find out what happens.
  5. Carry a notebook, as you never know when inspiration will strike.
  6. Write like you speak. Don’t throw anything you write away as years later, it may spark something off.
  7. Write the kind of stories you’d like to read.
  8. Write the first draft freely without judging it then rewrite with the rational/logical side of your brain.
  9. Read a lot.
  10. Never give up. Persevere through rejection. Loads of famous novelists had their books rejected first time round but were successful because they didn’t give up.

Cathy Hopkins is an English novelist, best known for her teenage books Mates, Dates series.


by Amanda Patterson

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