5 Minute Fiction Fix
know exactly how it works.
X-number of days/weeks ago you sent your latest manuscript
off to whatever literary agent/submissions editor you're
You're desperately awaiting a reply, and then you hear the
garden gate and smell postman and rush to the front door,
barely resisting the urge to snatch it open and grab with
both hands whatever's coming to you.
But you do resist and instead watch in horror as
your precious package is squeezed/hammered through the brass
slot and lands in a crumpled heap on the floor.
You know by looking at it that it's another rejection because
you would have got a call from the agent/editor either asking
for more of the same, or just sounding you out as a live
In any case, your manuscript (still beneath the letter box)
is oozing disappointment. If you had a literary Geiger counter,
you'd point it at the package and the needle would be going
haywire and clicking away like a swarm of paparazzi.
Worse still, you know that when you open it up, there will
in all probability be a horribly impersonal little note
telling you absolutely nothing - except that your novel
The rejection note will tell you that your manuscript is
neither good, nor bad. That it's not readable or unreadable.
That your characters are neither colourful nor insipid.
That your dialogue is neither sparkling nor dull. The hard
truth, as far as you can tell, is that your manuscript simply
didn't register at all. Hell, it might not have even been
looked at, let alone laughed at.
So goodnight and bon voyage.
I've discussed this thorny issue elsewhere on this site
But they rejected me!).
But talking about it doesn't solve your problem. You need
information and insight into your work, and you're not getting
Which is where this 5 minute fiction fix idea comes in.
For just £20 you can send me the first 500 words
of your novel - together with your query letter and synopsis
- and I'll take a "literary agent look" at it and see if
I can spot the "obvious" reasons why you're constantly getting
rejected. Or, alternately, send it to me before you
send it out for the first time.
I should point out that I'm no literary agent. But I am
a professional writer and editor (I write freelance features
for various publications and have worked for many years
as a magazine editor, sub-editor and a general all-purpose
journalist). More to the point, I've had dozens, if not
hundreds, of rejections and must have learned something
from all that (and hey,
mostly got it wrong too,
What I'm offering is the same 5 fatal minutes that you're
likely to get from a literary agent or submissions editor,
because that's usually how long you'll have between the
slush pile and the rejection stack.
Maybe less than five minutes.
The difference is, I'll tell you straight what I think,
with no punches pulled. There's no guarantee that 5 minutes
with me is going to get you 10 minutes with your next literary
agent - let alone an offer of representation. But the chances
are I'll spot a number of things that you're doing wrong
(or, at least, could be holding you back) and will pass
So where does the 5 minutes come in?
minutes will be roughly (or at least on average) how long
it will take me to read your submission and form some kind
of judgment. In all probability, I'll read it two or three
times as I get a feel for your style and some idea of what
you're trying to achieve, and then I'll spend some more
time (15-20 minutes probably) explaining my thoughts (by
email). By the time I've factored in the time spent replying
to the 2 or 3 follow-up emails you're likely to send, that
5 minute fiction fix is more likely to be around an hour.
Which is hardly going to make me rich, or make you poor.
But it could be time well spent for the both of us.
But before you stick your hand in your pocket or purse, you'll
have to look carefully through my own stuff (see elsewhere
on this site, or try:
You can decide for yourself if it sounds like I've got anything to offer.
Because you might hate the way I write and feel that I've
got nothing worth having - and God only knows it's expensive
enough as it is posting off manuscripts week after week
without shelling out more readies for someone else's dubious
So please be confident of what I've got to offer, or keep your
wallet closed. And while you're thinking about it, check
out the rest of this website - and keep a close watch on
sites such as Preditors & Editors who will always help keep
you pointed in the right direction.
Mr Edit YouTube videos
are some of my You Tube videos that might be of interest
to you. Hope you enjoy them.
Mr Edit. Let's talk about dialogue
Mr Edit. Pitching fiction to a literary
Mr Edit. 5 Minute Fiction Fix.
Mr Edit. Let's talk about tautology.
Links for writers
& Editors. Here's where you can check out the credentials
of literary agents and publishers. A must for any writer.
Helps. Helpful resource for the creative community.
Articles, links and tips.
Writing Blog. Lots of useful posts on all aspects of
writing, both for print and online, plus a guest post for
anyone who wants to make a contribution. Check it out.
Plotting a novel
Finding a literary agent
Choosing a literary agent
Agent query letters
Inspiration for writers
5 minute fiction fix
How to get published
Active & passive voice
literary agent, on books,
publishing and success
creator of the
Charlie Fox series of books
New York literary agent,
Crème de la Crime:
and managing editor of a smaller—but
a tip. Just a thought worth sharing. Thomas Edison, whilst
developing the light bulb, tried, without success, a huge
variety of materials for the all-important filament. When
asked (following the umpteenth failure) if he felt it was
time to give up, Edison said something to the effect: "Not
at all. We've simply discovered 1000 ways that it won't
probably got the details wrong. But the point is that success
invariably comes out of repeated failure. All those rejections
you've collected are, if you respect them, helping you improve
your writing. If nothing else, they force you to look harder
and harder at your work and ask important questions; questions
about style and presentation; questions about having that
all-important hook and setting the tone and pace from the
first word. See my page
Manuscript critique for more on this.
Treat criticism as a positive thing,
not as a negative thing. I have no figures to support what
I'm about to say, but my guess is that most writers really
can't take criticism. And if you can't, you're in the wrong
business because the criticism you're going to get as an
unpublished writer will be nothing to the snide press you'll
get when you hit the big time.
It's a cruel world, and everyone's
wrong, and everyone's right.
Criticism is simply the way people
show that they care about something. The inverse is indifference.
So listen to what other people say,
absorb it, build on it - where you can - and keeping pushing
your own envelope.
you give up.