Challenge,  workshops

December Workshops…

And A Question…

All the December workshops are now live and available for sign up, but hold off on signing up until Sunday. We might be doing another half/price sale since this stupid pandemic is getting worse. We shall see. I will announce it one way or another on Sunday.

But both November and December workshops are now available, plus I will be moving the Endings, Romance, and Information Flow workshops to Classic in the next day or so.

The question we have is about a short, special, three-week workshop that we would offer. Kris and I have been talking about it and think it might really help some writers during this time. It would be available as well in the fourth quarter of the Decade Ahead Class, (which will go through all of next year as well, remember? As soon as we know what the decade ahead will look like.)

The workshop idea is titled HOW TO DEAL WITH COVID IN YOUR WRITING

The reason we are putting it into the Decade Ahead class, as well as offer it as a special three week workshop, is because writing stories set in the middle of this pandemic have issues, both in storytelling and in audience and in long-term sales. We write stories that will sell for decades and decades. This pandemic, even though it seems to last forever, will be a very limiting factor in fiction.

And the workshop will be limited in time as well, maybe only offer it two or three times this winter.

But how can any of us set a story in 2020 or 2021 now, without dealing with Covid?

So how do you handle Covid in fiction? Kris and I started thinking about it because of our own writing and we came up with a bunch of things to do, both simple and advanced.

It would be a three week workshop and cost $150 and open to anyone.

No requirement to take it if interested, but we would like to know if you are interested in that kind of focused special workshop. You can write me or just make a comment here.

If no interest, we won’t bother, but instead do a Pop-Up (same price but no assignments) and put that in the Decade Ahead.




  • Veronika

    Sign me up. I’ve almost finished dealing with several major life rolls and now want to return to writing. And I don’t know how (or whether) to deal with Covid in the writing.

  • Julie

    I must admit I’m dealing with Covid in my fiction by ignoring it. I don’t write in a way that identifies the year I’m writing about – I don’t mention current events or new brands or new tech.

    As a reader, the absolute last thing I’d want to read about in fiction, now or years later, is Covid. If there’d been a pandemic ten or twenty years ago that was over now, I wouldn’t want to read stories set in it because they would seem both dated and depressing.

    I think there are also issues of taste. I’d find humour set against the background of hundreds of thousands of deaths distasteful, but that just seems to leave serious or even grim fiction as the options, which I don’t like reading and don’t like writing.

    So whereas I’m usually interested in any craft workshop that you do, I think I’d give this one a miss.

    Sorry to be negative about this one! I’m curious to know what others think.

    What I’d really love right now is a focus on something escapist. I know you’ve got a ‘How to write a Xmas mystery’ three-week workshop with your current Kickstarter but how about a six-weeker with five Xmas short stories to write as assignments (maybe in different genres or subgenres) so that by the end, every one has a five-story collection?

    Or a short-story six-week workshop based on some other theme but that would end up with five stories for a collection? I found your basic short story workshop, with new short story to write every week, fantastic for developing my craft in all sorts of ways, and aiming at a collection would be very motivating.

    • dwsmith

      Julie, that is a stunningly great idea!!! A collection at the end. What fun!!!

      That will happen. Stay tuned!!

      • Mary Kennedy

        I love the idea of a themed short story workshop like that, and Christmas would make a great theme. I would totally take that.

      • Julie

        Just thinking some more about this, and what would be great to have included in such a workshop would be how to write the sales blurb for a collection. I’ve done your brilliant course on write sales blurb for individual novels and short stories but those techniques wouldn’t apply to a collection.

        I’d also like to know how to get such collections to show up on Amazon etc. when people search. I’ve been searching lately on ‘Chrismas short stories’ and hardly anything comes up and yet Amazon must be stuffed to the gunnels with such books.

        • dwsmith

          Both of those topics would be in that kind of workshop, Julie. Blurbs more than the search engine stuff. But both would be there.

    • Topaz

      A six week workshop with a short story a week to a given topic and a collection at the end would be more fun to me as well.

      I try to not write pandemic short stories. I prefer to write escapist stories where I can have fun.

      • dwsmith

        We’re going to do this. Just not sure how yet. (grin) But I love the idea of the collection at the end being a part of it.

  • E. R. Paskey

    How to deal with Covid in fiction? I’d definitely take it.

    I’ve been going gangbusters on a mystery series set aboard a space station since April, when I finished up my last major project, because the present-day romance novel I was also in the middle of stalled–badly–and I haven’t been able to make any headway on it since.

    It’s not myth-related or fear-related–I’m just having trouble because reality right now is so different from what used to be reality. (Which really does sound crazy when I write it down, because as fiction writers we work in made-up universes all the time.)

  • Thomas Bennett

    Hey Dean,

    No suprise that I’m interested. I’m contemplating a detective series and my thought was simply to start the series about a decade ago. But whether it’s a 3 week workshop or a popup I will buy it,

  • Cora

    I would love to take this. I’ve put a moratorium on spending on courses for the time being (thank you Covid) but I think my family would love to pool together and get this for me for Christmas (I’m hard to buy for). So I would sign up.

  • Kari Kilgore

    Jason and I are interested in that workshop for certain! We both have a few short stories set earlier in the pandemic, and I’m not sure what the heck to do with them, much less when it comes to writing more.

    There must be answers besides setting stories in 2019 or jumping past 2022 and more or less ignoring it. 🙂


  • Susanne Pohl

    Hi Dean,

    I would be interested in a special workshop on Covid in my fiction. I started thinking about how I want to handle it in my stories. So far, in my writing Covid appeared in one short story and the rest of the time I keep it out of my stories. But I wouldn’t like to keep it completely out of my stories and I want to read stories from other authors that handle Covid.
    In a German weekly newspaper a German crime writer said that the crime genre has to change because of Covid. She asked for a radical change. At this point in time I think that could be true for literary crime fiction but not for entertainment. But I agree that it is one function of art to handle, explain, work on, digest, offer solutions or resolutions for issues like Covid.


  • Mihnea Manduteanu

    The Covid thing is too advanced for me but I would like to know, if possible, with what workshops you think I should start, as a beginner. A beginner in your craft, not writing per se. I’d like to get 3,4 workshops and I wonder what should they be. I was thinking depth, advanced depth for sure, but maybe suggest a couple more? Thanks.

    • dwsmith

      Working on craft, the workshops, in this order are Depth, Advanced Depth, Writing into the Dark (workshop), Teams, and from there follow the curriculum at

      The links are on the right side of this web site. Any questions, feel free to ask. And read my blog for tomorrow since we are doing a half price sale once again.

  • allynh

    All my stuff is set on other Copy Earth’s than our own, so they have different problems and histories. As far as I know, I have no Covid stories.

    Just spotted the trailer for a Covid movie. The premise is that Covid has mutated and has lasted 213 weeks of lockdown. I think it’s coming out in 2021.

    SONGBIRD Official Trailer (2020) COVID Quarantine Thriller Movie HD

    When I saw the trailer I thought, that was fast.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Yes, I’d take it if the Birthday Fairy is generous. I’ve been mauling this over the last month or two. I don’t like jumping to 2022 because we don’t know what close future will bring, and we get it wrong, the book will be dated immediately. I’ve been thinking of setting a romance series in Covid land though. People go on with their lives, and dating is really hard right now. I have two daughters and I see it second hand, the “his friends aren’t isolating and I’m not risking a date with him” stuff. But I’ve been scheming ways to make meeting new people possible and getting to know them well enough for something to develop.
    And yes, it will be humorous. We need that, and letting people laugh at absurd situations is a cathartic thing, even if that humor borders on being a bit dark.

  • Barb

    I have put Covid in a couple of short novels because they’re prequels to my Future Earth Chronicles that is set after the apocalypse of Western civilization (that actually happens in the second half of the 21st century, so Covid is only the start of it), but I’ve been stumped with the other project of contemporary fantasy, not knowing how to entwine it with Covid.
    So, if Shared Worlds is still on hold, and since there’s the sale, I’d love to try this and see if it gets me past my project block (or sparks new ideas). And definitely NO THANKS for Holiday stories, it was hard enough writing for the antho workshop, LOL!

  • Céline Malgen

    I’d love to hear your take on that! That’s a question I’ve been asking myself, and apart from just setting my story in an undefinite time, ignoring COVID completely, I haven’t come up with much. I hope there are ways of doing it that aren’t too depressing!

  • Laura

    Yes, I would be interested in the HOW TO DEAL WITH COVID IN YOUR WRITING WORKSHOP if it’s included in the Lifetime Workshop subscription. Sounds like a great idea. Often, I have wondered how to include COVID in my writing and haven’t come up with many good ideas. Would love to find out what you and Kris suggest.

    • dwsmith

      Laura, nope, we will never do that class because they only way to deal with Covid in a writing workshop is to stay online and away from other people. The workshop we are thinking about and more than likely won’t do now is how to deal with Covid in your writing. (grin) Structures of sentences can really be something huh? (grin) But not going to do it. I might do a blog or two about it at some point. If I get annoyed enough. (grin)