Challenge,  Kickstarter Campaign,  workshops

Coming Up With New Stretch Awards

Not An Easy Task…

The Spade/Paladin Kickstarter Campaign is about $2,000 away from the top stretch goal we have listed, which includes a Pop-Up class called Automatic Depth. So Kris and I have been working to come up with one or two more stretch goals since there is still nine days left on the campaign.

Now not complaining at all. The fact that we are needing to do this is very, very cool.

So we will be listing some more books for readers and Pop-Up classes for writers in brand new stretch rewards on Wednesday or Thursday.

So if you have any ideas of a Pop-Up you would really love us to give a try, just let us know in the comments here, or write me directly. Either is fine.

Think of a Pop-Up as the equivalent to an hour-plus lecture on one topic. What would you like us to go on about (me talking) for an hour. (grin)

And thanks for all the support of this really fun Spade/Paladin campaign.

Here is Kris talking about Spade/Paladin.


  • Aniket Gore

    I’m not sure if it’s feasible. But what I know from my experience is which level four writers should I be studying, and it’s hard to find other than very few that still writes. May be a pop-up on various stage four writers and what to study them for. Just an idea.

      • Laura E

        I agree with Aniket. At times, I too have struggled to find current Stage Four writers to study, especially when trying to write in a new genre. A few ideas for the pop-up are:

        (1) identify landmark Stage Four writers within various genres/subgenres and focus predominantly on current stage four writers with a few past ones for historical purposes. Give lots and lots of examples.

        (2) explain why we should study these particular writers and what stage four techniques they exemplify. This way we would know who to study when trying to master a specific technique.

        (3) delineate a simple strategy to find stage four writers on our own in the future. My current method is cumbersome and not as direct as I’d like. I find it a little easier for the genre I write in, but almost impossible for new genres I am trying to learn. I get stuck on where to even start.

        I can’t wait to see what else you’ll put in this pop-up because without a doubt I’m missing other important concepts.

        Many thanks to you and Kris for what you do!

        • dwsmith

          You realize a Pop-Up is about an hour of lectures, right? (grin)

          Thanks for the ideas. Maybe an entire series of Pop-Ups, one for each genre. Now that would be an idea. Hmmm…

          The Who to Study and Why Series. Hmmmm…

          Really great idea doing that.

          • Julie

            Big thumbs-up on that from me, because I’ve had the same problem. And knowing what exactly I’m looking for in terms of technique is another.

  • Diane

    How about stamina? Or turning up, or creating a writing habit? Or something like that? (If you don’t already have any similar, of course.) Or are the pop-ups generally more hands-on writing?

    I’ve only done one so far and particularly like the story assignment at the end. But I’m still wading through all of the existing workshops for when I can treat myself to one outside of a kickstarter. (Not just cost, but time also, as I’m a really busy freelancer.)

    • dwsmith

      Stamina… Wow, great idea Diane. Thanks. We did some stuff over the years on productivity in different forms, but never came at it form the stamina side at all, and that is distinct. Hmmm, I’ll talk with Kris about that one. THANKS!!

  • Ann Tucker

    Pop Up on How to leave threads to pick up later without wandering completely off the story. I know it would be part of Depth but not sure how deep to go into a tangent.

    • dwsmith

      Ann, I couldn’t begin to tell you how to do that to be honest. That is all done by creative voice, never by critical voice and thus not a skill to be learned because if you just write from creative voice, all that stuff will be there and you won’t even know it. Not kidding. Plus after enough stories and novels, you see the themes of your life and bigger patterns that your creative voice puts in and you never notice.

      So no need to learn critical stuff about that, your creative voice already knows all that and just does it naturally if you write from creative voice and have fun.

  • Mike Southern

    How about an introduction to the basics of writing a series? I know there’s a full classic workshop on doing a series — and I suppose you could just use that workshop itself as the bonus — but it is a subject that fits this Kickstarter. A ‘how to create a series detective’ pop-up?

    • dwsmith

      Mike, great idea if you are writing from critical voice all the time and building a character instead of just letting a character grow naturally. How to build a series character? Have a fun character and write the next book with that character. Anything more beyond that would be all working from critical voice and be stilted.

      So the words “Write the next book with the character.” just aren’t enough for a Pop-Up. At least not from the creative side. (grin)

      To be honest, never occurs to me I am writing or creating a series character until I have a number of books done and look back and go, “Wow, got another series.”

  • Linda Niehoff

    I’ve always wondered about pop-up for what to do when you write yourself into a corner. Something like – How to Solve Your Own Mystery. I imagine it including “just write the next sentence” and expanding on that. But also: are there other ways to go back into the story and figure out what to do if you get stumped? I’m not necessarily talking about fear or critical voice – although I know those can be huge causes for feeling stuck. More like how to write your way out of a corner. What if you’ve set up a really puzzling puzzle? How do you figure it out while still writing into the dark. Can you use your own story to solve the story’s mystery?

    • dwsmith

      Great question, and you answered it yourself for the most part. Feeling stuck is two things only. First, it is critical voice trying to stop you. Your creative voice (unless you were writing from critical voice) knows what it is doing and knows how to get you to the end if you trust it. But the job of critical voice is to jump in and stop you when you have a doubt. So you write the next sentence and the next sentence and keep going, giving creative voice time to direct you.

      Second, you might be slightly ahead of the creative voice, so naps often work, or a walk, just to give your creative voice time to take a breath. But you can’t think about it while napping or walking. That is critical thinking. Just trust that the creative voice got you there, it knows what it is doing and will get you out, so give it a nap or a walk or a good night’s sleep, then just cycle back 500 words or so, go at where you were stopped and write the next word.

      So great question but not enough for a pop-up.

      • Linda Niehoff

        Thank you so much for this mini lesson!! I will definitely try your suggestions. One of the more unfortunate aspects of doing The Great Challenge has been putting your lessons to the test and seeing how right you are in what you’re always teaching in workshops and lectures. My excuses just keep falling away. It’s infuriating 😉

  • E. R. Paskey

    I would dearly love a “Making a Living With Novels” Pop-up. *grin* It’d be a great companion to the “Making a Living With Short Fiction” Pop-up y’all did a while back.

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, we have had that one on our list for a long time, but sadly it would make so many writers angry with the truth, we haven’t done it yet. Maybe soon.

      • E. R. Paskey

        Well, it’s unfortunate that the truth upsets so many people. It *is* hard confronting the myths that have been embedded in our society and getting past them sometimes, but I guess I’ve always leaned more towards knowing the truth and going from there. You can’t fix what you don’t know is an issue.

        Maybe this is a pipe dream, then, but if a Pop-up for a stretch reward isn’t the best fit, perhaps it would work better released as just a regular Pop-up or even part of the Master Business class?

        • dwsmith

          All the Pop-Up stretch rewards are regular for-sale Pop-Ups. And yeah, more than likely we would do that Pop-Up as part of the Master Business Class.

          The problem is that there are two kinds of answers. What Kris and I teach is long-term making a living. What a lot of the young hot things teach is how to make money for a quick year or so and then burn out. Our method just makes the in-a-hurry hot things and all their followers angry, very angry. So I try not to poke that beehive any more often than I need to. (grin)

      • Thomas Bennett

        I thought how to make a living with novels was pretty well answered in Can I sell without promotion, unless there’s more to it?

    • dwsmith

      All Pop-Ups are for sale on Teachable. None of them were exclusive. However, the special workshops are exclusive to each Kickstarter and none of them are for sale and we have no plans of ever recycling them.

  • Sam

    I know you’ve touched on it in different lectures and classes, but something on keeping regular with hour writing routine or how to do that. Some of the best tips you’ve seen recently maybe.

    Also, I’d love a deeper dive on your outlining (not before you write, but after you you keep track of the details).

    Like specifically what details, how you structure it, how you use it.

    I love all you and Kris do!

    • dwsmith

      Sam, my outlining is simple.

      Character viewpoint name in each chapter. What they are wearing if different. Where chapter starts, where it ended, and who else was in the scene. That’s it. Just for my own reference and honestly it gets real sketchy in the last third of the book and by the end I don’t even bother. Only after a chapter is written. I use it only so I don’t have to scan back through chapters to see what my character is wearing or if they have a broken leg or not.

      Regular hours for many writers is a winning formula. But not all, and everyone who is really driven learns their own ways of getting into the writing chair. Those who are not driven there is nothing I can so to help. You either want it enough to sit and make stuff up or you don’t want it and make excuses to now write.

  • Alexander Boukal

    How about ripping off that band-aid and doing a pop-up on adding intensity to your writing? (grin) A pop-up on becoming aware that all emotions have intensity levels you can play with to hold readers.

  • Alexander Boukal

    Another idea for a pop-up came to me. What about a pop-up on how to ask a copyright holder for permission to write and publish your own stories featuring a trademarked character (and paying the required fees and royalties), and the steps needed in that specific area of licensing?

    • dwsmith

      Well, no. If they have a trademarked character, you don’t want to be near them for about a thousand reasons. And copyright is different than trademark.

      And the basic idea of what you are talking about, done right, will be massive parts of the Master Business Class combined with Licensing leading up to the May Licensing Expo next year. So nope. But thanks.

  • Kate+Pavelle

    Hi Dean,

    I’m a bit late to the party… but one thing I struggle with is organizing my catalog, and keeping track of what appeared where. I know you use your big white boards, some people use (and have shared) spreadsheets, and so on.
    Some kind of a review of various organizational systems, how they track a work through time, and their pros and cons would be fabulous. I have spreadsheets, but I forget to use them. I have visual boards, but they lack the flexibility. I tried color-coded post-it notes, and the jury is still out on that. (Also, the post-its are good for maybe 60 days out, and heaven forbid should they fall. It’s more for process, not for a long term record.)
    Having better control of my inventory would be fabulous, it would help me get works out on time instead of them getting lost in various folders.