Challenge,  workshops

Advanced Classes

Need Some Opinions and Feedback…

Kris and I have been talking over different structures and foundations for some advanced classes. And we want to do the classes so that not only early stage writers can get a lot out of them, but more advanced writers. And we want to do the type of class you can come back to over the years to get even more out of it.

The classes would be two or three months long, very detailed and complete. Not part of the regular workshops in any way.

We have ideas of what to do, but I thought tonight I would just toss it open to anyone who has an advanced class desire. (And yes, advanced pacing is one we are looking at for this new structure. And so is how to keep a character at arm’s length or pull them in tight to the reader. How to control that.) So anything that you feel in CRAFT that would be something you would like a ton more information about? And have wondered how Stage Four writers do what they do in certain areas. Feel free to speak out. No idea too wild or crazy.

You can email me directly or put the idea here in the comments.

Also, the Decade Ahead workshops will have a brand new structure when they start up in January. (And yes, if you are already signed up back in 2020 or since for the Decade Ahead, you will transfer to the new structure.) Stay tuned as we get closer to the start of the year for more information on that.


  • Connor Whiteley

    Hi Dean this is a great idea. Looking forward to these. You’ve mentioned pacing and advance scifi before so here are my other ideas:

    Advance Information flow
    Floating Viewpoint

    I know you’ve done workshops on these before and I’ve taken them but as you say, there are always more floors to explore with everything in writing.

  • Thomas Bennett

    I don’t know if this is too wide a topic. But advanced character development jumps out at me. I’ve studied most of the curriculum. Depth and character development seem to be the 2 major elements of craft. You already mentioned pacing, and you’ve covered depth extensively. Just my two cents.

  • Emilia

    I’d do take both pacing and point of view closeness classes. Advanced information flow would be something I want to study as well.

  • MG Herron

    I’m not sure if YOU would consider this advanced, but I’ve been wondering about false endings, and more broadly when and how to withhold information from the reader to maximize impact. When is it better to show a movement on the page, and when better to keep it off the page and summarize later, so as not to ruin the surprise?

    • dwsmith

      That is an easy one, MG. You never withhold information from the reader, ever. If the viewpoint character knows it, the reader knows it. Withholding information only makes readers angry and not buy your books anymore. But early on we all think that is how it is done because as readers we didn’t see things. It is the writer’s skill that gives information without reader knowing they have it. You want to see the best at this, go watch that movie with Bruce Willis where the kid says, “I see ghosts.” Not one bit of information withheld from the viewer.

  • Kat

    Been hoping for the advance pacing, and the POV one sounds great. I’d love advanced information flow, too. The other one I’d love is advanced cliffhangers. And advanced character development sounds great too.


  • Cora

    That looks great Dean. I would sign up for pretty much anything that I’ve seen suggested. The Pacing would be first on my list. Any ballparks on pricing? I need to budget. I’ve more than gotten my moneys worth for the Lifetime subscription.

  • Linda Maye Adams

    Pacing comes to mind. I took a workshop from Jonathan Mayberry. He included topics like:
    – Time in stories
    – Dialogue
    – Depth (by any other name)
    – Tension between characters
    – First and last sentences
    – White space
    – Flashbacks (if written right, not a pace killer)

    The class was part of Superstars Writing Conference Craft Day. He approached it from the outlining perspective, so I definitely want a non-outliner version.

    Project Management for Writers – also a class out of Superstars (and is being given at 20 Books next month).

    More of a business-focused one. We got an hour look at how Wordfire Press does project management. I was lucky to be on a billion-dollar government program where I saw it all over the place. We use project management for our family’s historical house. But I still have a hard time wrapping myself around how to use it effectively–and also without overwhelming myself–on the indie side.

    Marketing. I took the media class, and there was enough there that I stopped during the class because I needed more time to dive into marketing hype. I don’t think six weeks was enough time on this topic. All kinds of things to get into, including website interface. A writer I know just had on his site “novels” and expected readers to click the link to find out what genres. Other writers do dumb things like not put their name anywhere on the site. The class was a wake-up call for me to get a publisher site, and I had to think for a while about what name I would use. And I’m still in progress on the layout to make it easy for visitors to find the book. Huge, huge topic.

  • A. J. Payler

    If these are intended to be advanced classes in the sense that they build on existing workshops, I’d like to see more information on how the various craft skills work together–for instance, tags as used in character development, power words as related to information flow, cliffhangers and pacing. The types of things that get touched on during the sixth week of a workshop but backed away from as maybe too complex to address in a basic class, but might be able to be addressed meaningfully within a framework where it’s understood all students should have already digested several WMG classes worth of information already.

    Basically, anything along the lines of putting the pieces of various skills together into the larger picture of crafting fiction, filling in the gaps between existing classes and tying them together by providing the kind of insight that can only be developed over a lifetime of writing sounds good to me!

  • Annie Reed

    Advanced techniques for making a book unputdownable. Hubby and I both couldn’t put down Stephen King’s latest, _Fairy Tale_. I noticed one technique King used as a spice to build tension and suspense with that book’s first-person POV character (a writer) is clearly telling the story of what happened to him in the past directly to his readers. Since those readers know the character’s going to survive whatever happened to him, making that book a page-turner is some pretty high level Stage 4 stuff. I’m going to practice the technique I noticed, but I’m sure there were tons of other things King used in that book that I _didn’t_ catch because, well… he’s Stephen King.

    Pacing, characterization, voice, depth–it would be great to study how those advanced techniques mesh together to make a book that readers will sacrifice sleep to keep on reading.

  • Mark Kuhn

    I was thinking you could do an over your shoulder kind of workshop where we see you actually write a short story or a short novel. From start to finish. We could see how you move along, how you actually cycle, how you start moving when you get stuck, etcetera. It might sound like a crazy idea. Just trying to think outside the box.

  • Aniket Gore

    Advance character development, specially building on character voice.
    Advance pacing.
    Advance dialogue maybe.
    Advance Teams maybe.

  • Anne Lown

    I asked once about more types of red herrings. You have the pop-up but it would be great to learn about other sorts and how to use them.

    I second all the other suggestions already made. Anything that builds even more so on the teaching you already have available would be great.

  • Ann

    Yes, please, for POV shifting. I keep rereading and studying Nora Roberts’ back catalog. I can see some of it. But how to do it without pushing the reader away… still is a bit mysterious. Is it somehow hidden in the difference between third person and omniscient?

    • dwsmith

      Ann, omniscient viewpoint does not exist in fiction. It does in non-fiction and uninformed English teachers minds. But never in fiction. Fiction is always told by someone or some entity. You can’t tell a story without someone telling it. That’s what POV is all about. You can make it hard to tell who is telling the story, but there is always someone. Always. And that’s where drifting viewpoints become so difficult because you shift who is telling the story without the reader knowing. Way advanced skill.