Joining me in the coffee shop today is author Vanessa Knipe with some great advice for new writers. Vanessa is currently reading for an MA in Creative Writing, although her first degree is a BSC (hons) Biochemistry. She has seven books published, three collections of short stories and four novels, by two independent publishers. When not writing, she fights for a decent education for her autistic son.
Hi Vanessa and welcome to my virtual coffee shop. What can I get you?
Hi Katy, It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for inviting me, it’s really cosy in your shop. May I have a small white with one sugar please? I think we need to cut down on the strong stuff for a while. I may have a corner for a morsel of cake – it looks so good.
Coming right up! Happy New Year – hope you enjoyed the festivities?
Happy New Year to you. I keep Christmas and New Year very quietly. I have to keep to a regular routine so that my autistic son can cope with the festivities. I hope you had a good one?
Yes thanks, it was lovely. Do you have a New Year resolution that you’re prepared to share with us?
Well, I’m fifty this year so it’s time I had a proper clear out in my life. Of course, I’m looking to add to my published books, and I’m doing my MA in Creative Writing but I was looking at the screen saver on my PC and there was a photograph taken over the wing of a biplane, and I thought. ‘Why not me?’ Maybe this year I will learn to fly a plane.
Wow that’s a great thing to aim for! Good luck. Some people will probably have pledged to make this the year they write/finish a novel and try and get it published. Do you have any advice for them? What’s your top tip?
This is the best ambition ever, but you’ve got to remember there are a lot of books out there, and how can you make yours stand out among the crowd? For me personally that would be write the best book you possibly can. There are a lot of options to help you.
The cheapest option, because we’re all on budget here, is books. There is a fair number of decent authors out there, willing to share their experience. The hardest part is finding the author who speaks to your way of writing. With a kindle or other ereader you can download a free sample of the book. If you find yourself saying ‘huh? What are they talking about?’ or worse still ‘That’s a load of nonsense’ then probably the author can’t help you.
But when you’re thinking ‘yes, this is good advice’ then that is the author you can follow. Some of the authors are on Twitter and are willing to respond to reasonable questions – in 140 characters.
Some authors run online courses. These range from downloading a book that the author has written specially for that purpose, to online tutorials run on specialised teaching websites, all the way up to a series of videos by the author of bestselling novels discussing his techniques.
Universities run creative writing degrees and diplomas these days – if you have the time to spare and money. As I said earlier I’m doing a creative writing MA.
And finally there’s the really expensive option: one to one mentoring with a top author.
I’ve tried all of these options in my writing career – except the last one. I could never afford that. And in each I have found something that helped my writing to improve.
So my Tops Tip? It’s study hard to write the best possible version of your book, and people will come back for your next one.
Thanks so much, Vanessa – it’s been great to see you. Good luck with your writing – and flying – this year.
Thank you again for asking me, and good luck to you as well.
Learn more about Vanessa’s books here: