He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

Story Editor

Literary magazines only publish 1 – 3% of the stories they receive.

To land one of those coveted slots, you might need some professional feedback. That’s where I can help.

I’ve been editing short stories for more than a decade, have a book of short stories published by Press 53, and have published extensively in places like Third Coast, Crazyhorse, Chicago Tribune, and Shenandoah.

If you’re ready to take your writing to the next level, it’s time to work together.

My Methods of Editing

I specialize in big-picture editing.

You will receive a 1 – 2 page essay talking about all the different elements of your story — plot, characters, opening, ending, voice, plausibility, emotion, sense of place, and anything else that is appropriate.

I fulfill your vision for the story.

Bad short story editors impose their vision on your work. I pay attention to your intentions and suggest edits based on what I think your perfect vision of the work would be.

I am both kind and tough.

You don’t want a yes-man to edit your story, and you don’t want a high school football coach screaming obscenities. From me you’ll receive genuine compliments on what you’re doing well, and firm critiques of what can be improved.

About Me

Book: My short story collection “I Will Shout Your Name” is published by Press 53.

Publications: I’ve won the Shenandoah fiction award and the Third Coast fiction contest, as well as been a finalist for the Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren award. I’ve published 40+ pieces of short fiction in literary journals, including Crazyhorse, Arts & Letters, and Los Angeles Review.

Teaching: For over a decade I taught creative writing at institutions like the University of Southern California and Chapman University.

Degrees: I earned two graduate degrees in creative writing, an MA from New York University and an MFA from the University of Southern California.

Short Story Writing: Over the last decade, I’ve written 800+ posts here at Bookfox on writing and short stories, including my Ranking of Literary Journals and my reviews of short story collections and literary magazines.

How Does it Work?

1. I’ll read your short story multiple times, and give extensive, detailed feedback on things you are doing well and things you could improve.

2. Within 7 days I’ll email you my feedback. At this point I’d like to hear what was helpful and if you have any additional questions.

3. You walk away with a vastly improved short story, one that readers will love and that will have a much better chance of getting published.

Why Choose Me?

1. I’m fast.

I edit short stories within 7 days, and short story collections within 2 – 3 weeks. I don’t take clients if I don’t have the time to edit them, which means I never put you on a waiting list.

2. I have vast experience.

With more than a decade editing client manuscripts, I’ve been doing this longer than most editors. I’ve edited every genre of writing out there, from literary to sci-fi to romance (and enjoy it all, too).

3. I do much more than correct grammar and punctuation.

My specialty is developmental editing. That means I’m giving you substantial feedback on everything about your story. Think of me as a consultant for your writing skills, not just for this story, but for all of your writing.


“I learned more from John’s edits than I’ve learned from my last three writing classes combined.”

– Lee Waxenberg

“I’ve been a Bookfox reader for some time, so I already knew he was talented. His editing services exceeded expectations. He helped me identify places to devote more attention and provided thoughtful ideas to begin implementing his feedback. I’ll be working with him again in the future. Can’t wait.”

– Chris Jones

“John helped me edit a short story that I recently submitted for publication. His feedback is concise and insightful. He blends support with sharp-eyed critique. If there are post-edit questions he answers them in detail. Working with John serves as a great learning experience.”

– Terry Williams

“John Fox edited a short story of mine. I’d been having trouble with it and had no idea how to progress. With lucid application he showed me the way around my difficulties. His criticisms were never harsh or hurtful; they were, quite simply, constructive and germane. It was a most worthwhile interaction.”

– Yvonne Fein

“John provided prompt and complete editing services for my compendium of short stories. His insights and suggestions are spot on. Although I did not change or implement all of them, I did most. I made errors in points of view and past/present references, all of which he caught. I can endorse his services without reservation.”

– David M. Mokotoff

“John was extremely helpful and very honest. All of his thoughtful comments made total sense. Will definitely use him again.”

– Karen Sherwood

“John provides just the right combination of encouragement and solid feedback that can greatly improve a piece of fiction. What I particularly like about John’s approach is his ability to understand where a writer is developmentally and speak to him or her on that level.”

– Maisie Wheeler

“John has an editor’s mind, a writer’s eye, and a teacher’s mentality. He challenged me to identify a deeper vision for my work, then cultivate my stories to achieve that vision in the most compelling way possible. I’ve never revised more thoroughly, and I’ve never been more pleased with the results. He gave me the feedback I needed to submit my MFA applications with confidence.”

– Mason David Boyles

“The story John edited was chosen as a Finalist in The Montana Prize for Fiction. His edits were good, and importantly, gave me the confidence to enter at all.”

– Catherine Baab

What is Your Pricing?

5,000 words or less: $400  

5,000 – 8,000 words: $550

8,000 – 12,000 words: $700

If you write flash fiction (under 1000 words each), I treat 3 stories as a single short story: $400.

I am no longer offering editing for short story collections, unfortunately, due to time constraints.

I would recommend contacting Danielle Dyal, another editor here at Bookfox, for help with those. She can help you with:

  • Figuring out how to order the collection.
  • Deciding which stories would be best for the collection — often, there are a few stories that don’t quite fit, and it’s necessary to have a dialogue about why certain stories would or wouldn’t be a good fit.
  • Identifying the themes so you can best describe the book for marketing and jacket copy, and also figure out how to arrange stories so they complement each other.

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Short Story Editing

After paying, email me your story:

Have Questions?

Short Story Editor