5 Minute Fiction Fix


Fiction fix graphicYou 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 currently targeting.

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 prospect.

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 isn't wanted.

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 (see: 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 it.

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, Edison 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 the word.


So where does the 5 minutes come in?

5 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 professional opinion.

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.







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Mr Edit YouTube videos


Meanwhile, here are some of my You Tube videos that might be of interest to you. Hope you enjoy them.

You Tube video for writers and authors


Mr Edit. Let's talk about dialogue





You Tube literary agent video help


Mr Edit. Pitching fiction to a literary agent.





You Tube video - how to write fiction


Mr Edit. 5 Minute Fiction Fix.





You Tube video for authors and novelists


Mr Edit. Let's talk about tautology.




Links for writers


Preditors & Editors. Here's where you can check out the credentials of literary agents and publishers. A must for any writer.



Creative Helps. Helpful resource for the creative community. Articles, links and tips.



Nick Daws' 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.




Other links we like


Sump Magazine. Great motorcycling magazine.

Classic Bike Bargains. Cool T-shirts for sale







Creative writing




Special features


Darley Anderson, literary agent

Darley Anderson, top UK literary agent, on books,
publishing and success

Zo Sharp, thriller writer

Zo Sharp, creator of the

action-packed Charlie Fox series of books

Jeff Kleinman, literary agent

Jeff Kleinman, New York literary agent, talks shop

Creme de la Crime logo

Crme de la Crime:

An interview with

Lynne Patrick,

publisher and managing editor of a smallerbut


publishing house.

Fiction fix tips


Tip 1

Not really 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 work).

Yes, I've 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.


Tip 2

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.

Die before you give up.

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