Testimonials – From Those I Have Taught and Mentored

This is a selection of testimonials from my previous students and mentees…

28 thoughts on “Testimonials – From Those I Have Taught and Mentored

  1. I was introduced to Tim at a time when I needed help with my novel A Line of Blood;. I knew my manuscript was taking shape, but also knew that it was not ready to show to agents.

    Tim helped me to find direction and to develop the themes within the novel that were already working; he was also very clear about the plot elements that he thought needed more work.

    No one enjoys receiving criticism, but Tim’s suggestions were clear, and accurate, and to-the-point. He was never prescriptive: we worked together to find out what I wanted to do with my book.

    Of course, none of this is a guarantee of success, and you have to be prepared to do the work. But Tim’s help got me to a point where I was ready to write my next draft. That next draft got me an agent.

    I say this as someone who started out very cynical about the idea of mentoring: my novel is a much stronger novel for Tim’s involvement. I’m extremely grateful to him, and would recommend the experience highly.

    A Line of Blood is now on sale in the UK, published by HarperCollins. It’s being published in the US by William Morrow in September 2015.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was lucky enough to have Tim as one of my tutors on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, where I was immediately impressed with his eye for detail and the focus he brought to analysing and critiquing our student manuscripts. He was unafraid to stretch us and to challenge our assumptions, and his feedback helped me to write with clearer purpose, better aware of what I was trying to achieve and why.

    When the course finished, I was just beginning work on what I hope will be my debut novel, Rules for an Intervention. I knew I wanted to continue working with Tim as my mentor on a one-to-one basis, and in doing so I have benefited immensely from his criticism and encouragement while researching and writing my first draft.

    The single most important thing I’ve learned from working with Tim is always to look at my novel from a reader’s perspective. It is one thing to know this in theory, but I found I needed the repeated demonstration of it in practice to make it integral to my writing.

    Deep learning such as this is difficult to achieve except through the ongoing process of mentoring. I wholeheartedly recommend both the process in general, and Tim as a mentor in particular. It has made me a better writer, and will I hope lead to Rules for an Intervention being published in the near future.


  3. Tim assessed my manuscript with precision, patience and kindness. He made me see the shortcomings of my book and enabled me through his constructive criticism to restructure and rewrite a large part of the novel. Although I might not yet have reached the end of my journey there is clear improvement. His notes about dialogue were particularly helpful.


  4. Linda Jorgenson12 September 2014 at 07:04
    Tim was a great tutor on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course providing an insightful perspective into the world of writing fiction. Following the course I hired him as my mentor again appreciating his knowledgeable analysis of my work. I highly recommend him to anyone looking to write a novel.
    Linda Jorgenson
    (Copied from http://timsmentorees.blogspot.co.uk/ by Tim Lott)


  5. Monday, 22 September 2014
    Anjali Desh writes “” I found the face-to-face feedback from Mr Lott, to be very useful and effective. He put me at ease and at no point did I feel looked-down upon. The criticism was constructive and he gave me plenty of ideas about that crucial starting point of a novel, and how to draw the readers in. I also found his tips about character development – how to make them ‘real’, how to make them ‘sound’ different from each other and so on very informative. I left the feedback session with a very clear idea of how to edit my novel and polish it up. A very big thank you to him for all that and more!”
    (Copied from http://timsmentorees.blogspot.co.uk/ by Tim Lott)


  6. Friday, 19 September 2014
    From Kirsteen Tait: “Tim is a wise and encouraging teacher as well as a talented writer. He has the sense of humour so needed by those doomed to trying to write. It is always interesting working with him and he manages to make you feel supported, whatever is going badly. I rarely sit down to write without wishing that he was in the next room so I could consult him.”
    Kirsteen (mentored June 2013 – 2014.)
    (Copied from http://timsmentorees.blogspot.co.uk/ by Tim Lott)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had much admired Tim’s writing – in ‘The Scent of Dried Roses’ and ‘White City Blue’ – before I met him, so I was thrilled to find him teaching the ‘Writing a Novel’ course at Faber Academy. On the course I found Tim to be an exacting tutor (which is just what you want!). As a mentor, he is also nurturing, offering encouragement and – crucially – the insight of an experience published novelist. Equally crucial is his ability to see the ‘big picture’; by this I mean that rookie writers can get caught up in the minutiae of every scene, every sentence while missing essential elements of novel-writing: character, arc, plot and theme. On my difficult journey to completing a first draft and starting on my second, Tim has been a merciful source of encouragement and guidance.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have been attending Tim Lott’s Creative Writing Masterclass jointly hosted by the Guardian and the University of East Anglia. Tim’s seminars have been life changing. They provide the means of turning a lifelong fantasy of writing a novel into a powerful toolkit for doing so. Tim is a charismatic teacher, generous with his time and talent, and serious about adding the greatest possible value to the work of each delegate. He tells us what we need to hear, which may not always coincide with what we want to hear. His manner is open and approachable, and his advice is very practical, and drawing on his own experiences as a writer. I expect Tim is responsible for releasing a considerable amount of new literary talent. Everyone in our group of ten has expressed the wish one way or another to continue to work with Tim once the course has ended.


  9. I am currently nearing the end of a 6-month Guardian course taught by Tim. He is a wise, witty, talented, humane and sensitive teacher who somehow manages to combine appropriate levels of encouragement with candid incisive critique of what exactly needs fixing in any given text. Whilst the course is delivered based on a set syllabus, Tim is not hidebound and instead quite often digresses into much more interesting and pertinent territory. He is also particularly adept at fielding often unexpected group contributions and making them part of the story. I feel very lucky to have worked with him, and hope to continue to do so after the course ends. He has taken me from the position of having never written a word, to having over 40,000 of them on the page. They may not be very good, but as the great man says: “Just keep on writing, however bad it is”. It’s very good advice.


  10. I am currently a student in Tim’s “How to write a story” UEA Gaurdian masterclass.
    He is in the process of unlocking the deeply hidden talents of our group.
    He is doing well so far.
    Our meetings/seminars have covered a range of the technical and emotional aspects of the process of starting to write a novel.
    We are all benefitting from his experience and patience.
    Lessons are well structured involving a mixture of teaching and learning styles including discourse, discussion and written exercises.
    We have also submitted our own work for peer and teacher review, and benefited from Tim’s honesty and professional constructive criticism.
    From my perspective the course has been inspirational, cathartic and life changing.


  11. Alongside Joanna and Phil I am approaching the end of the six month UEA Guardian Masterclass in Story, and I wholeheartedly endorse all their observations here. I would add that as a group we have thoroughly enjoyed our weekly seminars with Tim and I have a great respect for his subtle facilitation in balancing an intensive teaching programme with the intuitive, wide ranging conversation which is so important for this subject.

    On a personal level, I have found that over our 18 weeks so far, Tim’s natural fluency has offered a real insight into what it means to have an eye for the world in terms of making story. The value of this is inestimable.


  12. I always knew I wanted to write, but I couldn’t find a voice. I didn’t know how to plot, I had no idea about structure. I was spewing dishonest rubbish. For ten whole years, I wrote into an abyss of rejection.

    I applied to the six-month Faber Academy Writing A Novel course, with Tim (and Esther Freud) as my tutor and was thrilled when I was accepted.

    Tim’s classes were never formulaic. Never dull. In fact, listening to Tim talk was a privilege. And I think for me, and hopefully lots of others, this is the real key:

    No one else could have taught me what Tim did.

    He showed me the bigger picture. He showed me how to find my voice. And as Jude said above, he is not afraid to “challenge our assumptions”. With all of that, the more textbook stuff followed: The structure, plot, pacing etc.

    There was one particular lesson of Tim’s where the entire novel writing process clicked for me. A short while later, my dreams of being signed to an agent came true. And I’m so happy to say that with Tim’s guidance and wisdom, my debut novel is being published next month.

    Without Tim’s words, I can safely say I would still be flailing around in piles of rejection slips. So if you are looking for a mentor that will get you out of that, you must call him. But be prepared. He will challenge you. He will make you look at things in a different light. It will be hard. But so, so worth it.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Challenging and tough – but fun and rewarding too. Words to describe the writing process can as easily be applied to Tim’s mentoring.

    Books, blogs and writing groups all have their merits. But none compare to working one-to-one with someone who pulls no punches and has worn the novel-writing T-shirt – several times over. And who points out when you’ve used a cliché or two!

    I’d recommend Tim to any novice novel writer.


  14. It is a privilege and pleasure to join the chorus of aspiring writers who sing Tim’s praises. I am entering my 40th year as a practicing attorney in the United States but have aspired and dreamed to become a novelist. I am so fortunate to have discovered Tim as a mentor. Tim is insightful, patient, non-judgmental and most importantly enlightened me as to the process required if one is serious about writing. Tim’s reactions, suggestions and guidance in reviewing my story has not just been instructive, it has become an essential ingredient to the successful completion of my novel. As a mentor, Tim has helped me to understand precisely what I am trying to achieve and the story I want my audience to experience. Tim does not nit pick sentences in the manner of an English teacher instead he focuses on helping me evolve the story that I have carried in my head into a legitimate literary experience for the reader. I believe that is the most important attribute to be found in a mentor. I recommend TIm as a mentor to all aspiring writers and even to already proven authors who are seeking input and evaluation of their work.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Tim’s great gift as a mentor is to combine technical insight with what we might call ‘tough love’. Seriously, in the style of all the best teachers, Tim will challenge you, inspire you to look at your work in an honest and uncompromising way, and help bring clarity of thought to your project — and he’ll do this with sensitivity and humour and without judgment.

    In five minutes he helped me understand something that had eluded me for about five years: the essence of my story. It gave me much-needed focus, and the confidence to go ahead and finish my first draft. His advice on other crucial technical matters — namely, the development of my plot and my characters’ motivations — was also precise and discerning. As well, he was generous with his time and encouragement. All in all it made for a great experience, and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with Tim again.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Tim’s wise guidance has been invaluable in my writing and I am now confident that I will finish my novel this year. His style is not autocratic but gentle, considerate and questioning which results in pretty incisive comments. I have made major changes to my writing due to his suggestions and questions and am extremely happy that I enlisted Tim’s help. I have no hesitation in recommending Tim to all those who aim to be serious writers.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I highly recommend consulting Tim for defining and highlighting the story spine – even if you think you already know what your story’s about.

    Tim pulled the wool out of the existing story and stripped the story back to the bare bones, and presented this to me, in a consultation most thoughtfully and with some detail. In doing this Tim made me think more carefully and deeply about story arc, character and story spine. The through line.

    Tim’s manner is nurturing and encouraging; never brutal!, whilst he remains firm in his critique, he is positive, nurturing and encouraging.

    With thanks to Tim, I know have a clearer, more tightly focused structure on which to hang the meat of the second draft.


  18. After completing The Faber Academy, I thought I had finished my manuscript and submitted. I was delighted to be approached by a couple of agents and thought it was only a matter of time before I was signed. It came as a shock when i was rejected. A friend recommended Tim, who read my manuscript. He pointed out flaws I had missed, and a way to re structure my novel to make it more publishable. I see how naive I was to think it was ready, when it wasn’t. So I’m on the re write but with Tim’s help, I feel I’m on track to finishing a novel that can hold its own in a tough market. I have since recommended him to friends, and wouldn’t hesitate to ask him to mentor.


  19. I was introduced to Tim through a mutual friend. I too recently finished the course at The Faber Academy. I’d been working on my plot for over a year, forcing it into place. I had a finished manuscript, but knew there were things that need to be fixed. Tim immediately identified the weak spots. No! He didn’t give me the answers to fix them, but he did give me the tools to fix them myself. My manuscript is exponentially better from our work together. I highly recommend Tim, and I cannot wait to work with him again!


  20. Tim is, quite simply, amazing. He read my work thoroughly and tuned into the big picture as well as the smaller details—and his comments made perfect sense. He knows how stories work. How character and plot and pacing have to fit together in specific ways in order to have a successful novel. I can now see clearly what needs to be reworked, and I have renewed energy to to it. Any writer who is looking for a wickedly smart and insightful reader should contact Tim.


  21. Tim’s special blend of rigour and empathy make him, in my experience, an exceptional mentor. My manuscript was transformed, thanks to his combination of creative input and assiduous critical insight


  22. I have had four mentoring sessions with Tim. I am working on editing the first draft of my manuscript and I have to say that Tim has been immensely not only helpful, but sharp, and insightful and intelligent. He knows his stuff. Tim’s suggestions have led me to believe that my project has more depth than I ever would have realised if not for him. My work is progressing in fits and starts and Tim’s been an oasis for me, and has hoisted me from the parched desert. I am very lucky to have him as my inspiration.

    Nadia Chalabi


  23. Tim’s guidance, via his manuscript appraisal service, was invaluable in helping me revise my third novel, Firing Blancs. His advice on character development and pruning extraneous chapters was particularly useful, while I found Tim’s personal style, which combines insight, rigour and good humour, very encouraging. My manuscript is in far better shape following the rewrite, now let’s see whether any agents bite…


  24. I’m at the start of my journey as a writer. I attended, and was inspired by, Tim’s brilliant ‘Beginners Guide to Becoming a Novelist’ class. I learnt so much in this three-hour seminar – from practical advice about becoming a writer to valuable lessons about story-telling such as creating compelling characters, narrative arcs, the importance of the mid-point and so much more. This crash course equipped me perfectly to write my first draft.

    I then engaged Tim to appraise my manuscript. Tim has provided incisive and constructive feedback that has made a big difference to my draft. Specifically, he encouraged me to cut a subplot that wasn’t supporting the main narrative (permitting me to kill one of my darlings); pointed out inconsistencies in some behaviours of key characters; helped me tighten up parts of the story that dragged; alerted me to the need to make certain tonal adjustments and focussed me on ratcheting up the tension in key moments of the novel.

    I have felt validated and motivated by Tim’s feedback. Tim’s approach has been to treat me as an adult by pointing out the problems that need solving and then giving me the space to work out how best to solve them.

    I’m now in the lap of the Gods as I move to the next stage of my long journey by trying to try to find an agent. Tim’s expert tuition and insightful coaching have given me every chance of success.


  25. After various rewrites of a complete novel, and after getting conflicting advice from my agent, another hired editor, and others, I finally decided to hire Tim to read my manuscript and give feedback. He “got” my book like the others hadn’t, and he encouraged me to stay true to my vision. That said, I learned what had to go and what I could keep, and for that I’m grateful. I think, for an author, it boils down to what rings true in your heart. You know when you get good advice, and I definitely felt this with Tim’s suggestions. I’m currently writing another version of my novel, and I feel like I’m going to be in good hands with this version. Now I know whom to go to first when writing another novel!


  26. Working with Tim has been an amazing experience. His honesty and support was exactly what I needed to get my draft finished.

    Tim saw areas of improvement and ideas that I could not see and his ongoing support and mentoring was exactly what I needed.

    I highly recommend Tim to anyone who is serious about writing a book.


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