You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

A few months after teaching my Writing Enchanting Prose workshops last year, I got letters from three of the participants. In each letter, the author talked about how they had applied principles I’d taught in the course, had sent out stories and books, and made quick sales. Each of the authors said, “You taught me things that I didn’t even know I didn’t know.”

I’m glad. That’s my goal, to cast light on some of the dark corners of the writing and publishing world so that we can figure out how to succeed where so many others have failed. All of us writers make mistakes from time to time, and so I study, but doing a haphazard job of that can be costly. As Alexander Pope put it, “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”

I’ve been writing this column now for nearly a decade. In choosing my topics, I usually just point out problems that I see in manuscripts that I’m editing or in stories that I judge, or make observations on the publishing world as a whole.

But, hey, it’s the holiday season. So I thought that I’d like to see if I can help you. Ask me anything. If you don’t know how publishing works or how authors make a living, ask me. If you’re having a specific problem on a novel, ask if I can offer a solution. I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming writing tip, and will devote the next eight tips to it.

But don’t be surprised if the answers shock you and take you in directions that you don’t imagine. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Send your questions to davidfarland1@gmail.com.


If you want to buy online workshops for the holidays, you can email us at mystorydoctor@gmail.com.

The Writer’s Peak Workshop is happening in Texas next week! If you want to come, don’t forget to register!

In February I’ll be speaking at an amazing writing conference, Superstars Writing Seminar. It’s a drink-from-the-firehose three-day event in Colorado Springs all about the business side of writing and publishing. My holiday gift to you is $100 off conference registration (good for first-time attendees only; may not be combined with other discounts). To find out more, visit superstarswriting.com. When you’re ready to sign up, go to “Registration” and when prompted select “New Member.” Your discount
code is Farland-Friend. I hope to see you there!

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