Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Day Two of the April Challenge

Amazingly Busy Day…

As expected, today, a Monday, got crazy busy in more ways than I had expected. And I had expected a lot, including getting started late with the writing. That happened.

The Day

Got going by around 11 a.m. and did a bunch of email, then chores around the house here, including taking massive loads of garbage out as I slowly start to work on moving things and tossing other things.

I managed to get out of her and to WMG offices around 12:30 and then Allyson followed me 35 miles south to Newport so I could return a rental car I had rented at the Portland airport to get home on Friday night.

We had lunch and did meetings on the way back to Lincoln City, then I had a meeting with our realtor to list the house for sale here. It would be a fantastic flip for someone to make a few hundred thousand on if done right.

Then discussion with my Las Vegas realtor and Kris, then off to dinner with friends.

I got home around 7:30 p.m. and it took me until midnight to do email, a bunch of business, then all the workshop assignments and then start the first half of the April regular workshops.

So at midnight, later than I wanted, I started writing.

The Story #2…

For some stupid reason I picked up an Idaho Place Names book near my writing desk and opened it and saw the name Rainbow Peak. Very near Thunder Mountain.

So I typed in Rainbow Peak as a title, put “A Thunder Mountain Story” under it, and started typing about a guy watching the colors change on the peak from his small cabin.

Great, I had just started very late a story in the most complex series I do. I had a hunch right there I was in trouble. But nope.

Going at light-speed, I ended up at 1 a.m. with 1,300 words.

Took a five minute break to get some Chinese Pork, mustard, and seeds, and went back to work. At 2 a.m. I took another break at 2,700 words.

This story was just flying. And I was having a blast writing it.

Another short break and by 3 a.m. I was at 4,100 words and still going strong. I was tired at this point, but still going.

After another short break, I came back and finished it by 3:30 a.m. at 4,900 words.

And I have no doubt this is the first five chapters of a Thunder Mountain novel.

I sent it to Kris (who loved last night’s story by the way). Then sat down to do this blog before I fall asleep.


Day One… Playing Scared… 2,700 words…. Total April words… 2,700 words.
Day Two… Rainbow Peak… 4,900 words…. Total April words… 7,600 words.


Femme Fatale Bundle

Also, I want to remind everyone of the fantastic bundle I am lucky enough to be in with a bunch of great writers. This is ending IN JUST TWO DAYS!!

It’s called the Femme Fatale bundle on Storybundle.

It’s a mystery/thriller bundle with Femme Fatales in every book, in one form or another. Trust me, Kris’s novel The Perfect Man will mess with your mind. And you can never go wrong with Lawrence Block, O’Neil De Noux, or Libby Fischer Hellmann.

And you might even like my novel and Mary Jo Assassin.


INSIDER’S GUIDE Workshops Now Available…

— Insider’s Guide to Selling Short Fiction in 2018/2019 (Starts April 8th)
— Insider’s Guide to Writing Successful Space Opera (Starts April 8th)
— Insider’s Guide to Writing Serial Fiction (2,000 word parts of a novel) (Starts May 6th)
— Insider’s Guide to Writing Detective Fiction. (Starts May 6th)

$300 each, limited to ten writers plus lifetime subscribers. One time workshops. They will not be regular. Sorry. These will fill so don’t wait for the last minute on these. And yes, you can use your credits.




Sign up directly through Teachable or if you have a credit, write me. Everyone who wrote me and signed up through me, I have sent out the letter with the code to get into each workshop. If you are using a credit for an April workshop and did not get a letter from me, write me.

Otherwise, you can sign up on Teachable.

And clearly the Time of Great Forgetting is kicking in. Many of these workshops have no one signed up yet.

Class #37… Apr 3rd … Think Like a Publisher
Class #38… Apr 3rd … Endings
Class #39… Apr 3rd … Point of View
Class #40… Apr 3rd … Writing Mysteries
Class #41… Apr 3rd … Speed
Class #42… Apr 3rd … Teams in Fiction
Class #43… Apr 4th … Depth in Writing
Class #44… Apr 4th … How to Edit Your Own Work
Class #45… Apr 4th … Character Development
Class #46… Apr 4th … Writing Secondary Plot Lines
Class #47… Apr 4th … Advanced Depth
Class #48… Apr 4th … Novel Structure



  • Chong Go

    For a second, I thought “Idaho Place Names” was the title of your new story! Lol. I’ll bet you could pull it off, though 🙂

  • Topaz

    Hello Dean,

    congratulations to your great start into your new streak.

    Listening to the new tip of the week and reading today’s post a question jumped at me.
    I’ve set out to write 15 short stories this month, similar to last years short story challenge, practicing short fiction a bit more.
    But alas, story 1 is done, story 2 is a novel start again…

    Reading about your second story being the first five chapters of a Thunder Mountain novel I am wondering:
    How will you count these chapters? Is everything you write on one day counted as a short story? Do you only count fiction that turned into a short story and say, well x short stories done – failure to success?

    Same question with the short story a week streak.
    What to do, if the short story turns out to be a novel start? Try writing another short story for the week because novel starts couldn’t be published or mailed? Break the streak?

    And yes, I’m gonna continue practicing the short fiction thing. I found some wonderful short stories I love to read since fall. *smiles*

    • dwsmith

      Oh, the story last night worked as a short story completely. They are not mutually exclusive at all. You can have a short story that works as a short story and yet can also fit into a novel just fine. I do that all the time.So does Kris. She often sells parts of novels to major magazines because the part works as a short story while also being part of a larger work.

      So in these challenges, since all will be published as short stories in the book, and in Smith’s Monthly, all of them work as a short story. But on the story last night, it should be clear to readers that the character’s story could go on. Which it does. Not in a demanding, “I need to read that now” way. But there is more and I got a hunch it will be the start of a coming novel in the next part of this challenge.

      I seldom have a short story that only is a novel start. It happens a few times every hundred short stories or so, but as an editor and writer of short fiction for so many decades, I have the structure down pretty solid and my creative voice just knows how to wrap it with a short story ending.

      But what do I do on the few times that something has no hope of wrapping under novel length? I pull the start off to one side, label it in case I ever want to come back to it (I seldom do), and write another story.

  • Alex Reut

    I’ve ordered your “Writing in the dark”. Really great book, also I hope you’ll make a one about writing mystery. It’s look like detective stories are harder to be written in the dark, ‘cos you have to know who is the murderer. 🙂

    How it’s better to react if you’re in the middle of the story and suddenly understand that you don’t like character or setting or both and actually don’t want to tell it? Does it come from a critical voice, or it just means I have to put the manuscript away and write something else?

    • dwsmith


      Nope, writing into the dark works just fine with mystery books. I know, I write an entire series of complex puzzle mystery novels call The Cold Poker Gang and I have no idea who did what or who and don’t want to know until my creative voice tells me. Writing them is just like reading them. Great fun. So that is a myth that complex books can’t be written in the dark. Actually, those are the very books that should be written that way.

      As for when you don’t like your character and the plot and everything else in the middle, that is normal for just about every writer. The professional writers just power on through and the non-professionals quit and go write something else. It is full critical voice trying to stop you.

      • Alex Reut

        Also I’m not sure did I get right the idea of using Lester Dent’s plot formula for a longer form.

        It’s optimised for 6 000-words short stor. Of course the proper size depends on language, i.e. Russian has no articles and there’re much less usage of prepositions, so it turns to be around 5 000 words.

        But to expanding it to 40 000-like novel wouldn’t be just writing 7 short stories in a row. I understand it like expanding two middle items, like this:

        in Lester Dent’s plot:

        Starting action
        Protagonist Act
        Antagonist Act
        Final action

        Expaning it to a novel

        Starting action
        Protagonist Act 1
        Antagonist Act 1
        Protagonist Act 2
        Antagonist Act 2
        Protagonist Act N
        Antagonist Act N
        Final action

        Some classical adventure, like James Bond books or novels by Peter Cheyney, are fitting pretty good in such a way.

        Did I get it right?

        • dwsmith

          Alex, one way to look at it. And it would work. But mostly Lester Dent talks mostly about the seven point structure in that and the story is filled with try/fail sequences. Short stories have fewer, novels have a ton more from all sorts of characters. So the seven point structure works better.

          1 Character in a 2 Setting with a 3 Problem. Character 4 tries to solve the problem and 5 fails. (Repeat more for novels number 4 and 5.) Character gives it one 6 final try (climax). Then you tell the reader the 7 story is over with a validation.

          • allynh

            Another way to see the seven point structure is use “but” and “therefore” with 4 and 5, so that each try and fail leads into the other.

            Writing Advice from Matt Stone & Trey Parker @ NYU | MTVU’s “Stand In”

            You try this, but this goes wrong, therefore you try that, and you are close, but not there yet, etc… This goes on with many variations of “therefore” and “but”, in any combination. — you may have a row of “therefore” or “but” — as long as they connect in a twisty chain.

            In some cases when you give it one 6 final try(climax) and succeed, the shock is sometimes so great that you don’t believe it, yet you have won.

            Look at Da Vinci Code as example. It is a roller coaster ride, that once you strap in you are locked into the ride with all sorts of “but” and “therefore” connecting together. If you try to leave out a chapter, the hole is obvious.