Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  workshops

December Workshops Described

Figured It Was Time…

So below is the list of the 12 regular workshops offered in December and following that a description of each.

They are all now available and you can sign up for any of these on or if you have a workshop credit, write me. This is a great list of workshops for December.

And this is less than half of the regular workshops we offer, not counting the Classic and the Futures workshops and Strengths. That’s why we offer a lifetime subscription to all workshops. (grin)


Class #61… Dec 4th … How to Study Writing
Class #62… Dec 4th … Endings
Class #63… Dec 4th … Point of View
Class #64… Dec 4th … Writing Mysteries
Class #65… Dec 4th … Speed
Class #66… Dec 4th … Teams in Fiction
Class #67… Dec 5th … Depth in Writing
Class #68… Dec 5th … How to Use Tags
Class #69… Dec 5th … Character Development
Class #70… Dec 5th … Writing Secondary Plot Lines
Class #71… Dec 5th… Information Flow
Class #72… Dec 5th … Magic Bakery



Studying writing and techniques of fiction writing is a complex process, mostly because you need to know what to look for when studying.

And you need to know how to focus your study. This workshop not only helps makes sense out of studying fiction writing, but gives you techniques that you can carry for decades forward in your learning process.

This workshop will go through the major areas of study and help you find methods to study areas you need help with in your fiction writing. So many writers are constantly surprised at how Kris and I in workshop after workshop give them focused exercises and methods of study. That is because we understand how to study fiction writing and what works and what doesn’t.

So now we are combining this knowledge of study all in a way that will be logical and in a workshop you can always come back to when trying to figure out how to do something new in your fiction writing.

This workshop also covers how to practice your fiction writing. Yes, we know, writers don’t like to think of the word practice because all words are golden, right? But by the time you finish this workshop, you will understand the word practice and how it applies to writing and how to practice in fiction writing.

This might be one of the most important workshops we will ever teach. A core workshop for moving forward in your career.



Understanding how to end novels and short stories in every genre.

An old truth about fiction and selling books: Your opening sells the book the reader has in their hands. Your ending sells your next book.

Most writers don’t understand how to write a satisfying ending. And there is a ton of misinformation about endings as well. A satisfying ending for a mystery would be completely wrong for a romance novel. And so on.

One basic area that will be covered is end-matter, since so many writers are indie publishing their own books these days. And making some horrid mistakes with their end matter, actually turning people off after their story satisfied the reader. This workshop will make sure you are not doing that to start with. A basic thing.

Another old truth in fiction is that if something is wrong in your ending, look to your beginning. This workshop will cover how endings need to build from and often wrap back to the beginning of your story.

So, basically, this workshop will deal with a lot of plotting from genre ending to genre ending.

This workshop will be designed to give you a foundation of knowledge to stand on when writing endings. You will know what is needed to help your readers finish your novel and look for more work from you.

Endings are not a mystic art and they are not necessarily formulaic on the other side either.

The knowledge of how to end a story can be learned. That’s what this workshop is all about.

This workshop will be an eye-opener and jump your writing skills forward, as well as your sales, we can promise that.



Understanding every detail about how to use a character point of view.

Most writers will think, “I don’t need this. I know Point of View. It’s not hard.” And yet most of those writers still work under their old beliefs and learning they got from non-writers like English teachers.

The truth simply put: Most fiction writers know little or nothing about the power of viewpoint.

First off, this will be one of those “awareness” workshops. Until you see the power of what a major writer is doing with viewpoint and what they are doing and how they are doing it, you will miss it and not be able to use the technique yourself. So we’re going to show it to you and explain how you can use it and when.

And then help you practice it.

So if you have any fear of any viewpoint, if you think first person viewpoint is actually a more immediate viewpoint for a reader, if you think “omniscient” viewpoint actually exists in fiction, then you really, really need this workshop.

It will be an eye-opener and jump your writing skills forward, we can promise that.



Kristine Kathryn Rusch (also Kris Nelscott) and I both love writing mystery short stories and novels. Nominated for every major award in mystery, including three times for the Edgar Award, Kris also won the Ellery Queen Award numbers of times.

Finally, we bring our love of mysteries to an online workshop. This workshop will not only give you really clear knowledge of exactly what makes a story or novel a mystery, but we will also talk about the sometimes fine lines between the subgenres.

The five assignments in this workshop will go straight to the heart of the different mystery elements.

Writing mysteries seems vast in nature, but in six weeks you will feel far more confident about the stories and books you write and call mystery. And also, you’ll know where to put your books on the electronic bookshelves to make sure the readers who would enjoy them get to them.

Mystery and mystery elements can also be part of any novel, from young adult to science fiction and beyond. Learning mystery craft skills will help all your novels and stories hold readers. Kris taught a mystery workshop here on the coast a while back, but we will make this one very, very different.

Online, we can be more focused on the craft, the techniques, and the varied sub-genres. This workshop will improve your writing in a lot more ways than just writing mystery stories.



Yes, we are going there. We are going into your work habits to help you get past everything that is slowing down your writing pace. Your creation pace. Help you write clean, first drafts at a decent pace.

And yes, we can help you.

Kris and I constantly hear writers talk about how they can’t write a thousand or more words per hour of fiction. We understand that. We couldn’t either when we started off. But eventually, most long-term writers work through the problems slowing them down and get to around 750 to 1,250 words per hour depending on what part of the novel or story they are writing.

This workshop is designed to help you jump over years and years of slowly working your way up to a decent speed.

There are a vast number of techniques and craft tricks this workshop will cover to help you add to that hourly speed. So if you have trouble getting to the computer, take the Productivity Classic workshop. If you want to produce more words while at the computer, this workshop is for you.

And we can help you increase if your pace is 200 words per hour, 500 words per hour, 700 words per hour, or 1,000 words per hour. Yes, even at that upper pace, we can help you learn ways to be more efficient and write cleaner copy.



In the modern world of fiction, teams of characters around a central figure play a critical part of the success of any novel or series. From NCIS to Star Trek to Harry Potter and Star Wars, teams form the center of most western fiction and storytelling

This workshop gives all the techniques and methods of building a successful team in your fiction, a team that readers will want to rejoin again and again, story after story.

This workshop will take a comprehensive look at how teams have come into our fiction and storytelling. From Lester Dent with Doc Savage to modern binge-watching shows, they all have teams.

In fact, in our modern world, readers and viewers are often uncomfortable when a team is not built quickly in a story.

And each character in the team plays a set role that you must be aware of as a writer before you can control the team in your own story. Readers are aware of a team member’s role, so being able to use that reader awareness to your advantage in your stories give you a massive advantage in sales.

This is a craft workshop similar to the depth workshop, with many examples of how teams are put together and built to bring in thousands of readers. And an awareness workshop. Once you see the roles of teams in fiction, you will never not be able to see it or use it in your own work.

This workshop will change your writing, just as the depth workshop did. Don’t miss this one.



A sentence-by-sentence, clause-by-clause look at how you can write fiction, characters, settings, and plots with depth.

Your writing, your characters, your fiction will take a huge jump forward with this workshop.

Depth in Writing workshop helps you understand how to have real characters and stories that hold readers.

The Depth in Writing workshop shows you exactly how.

Kris and I have finally worked out a way to get down into the details to show you exactly how to add depth to your characters and your work without hurting your plotting or your pacing.

Not a theory workshop. We show you directly how to do it and you practice it and get feedback from us on how to make your work even deeper.

This workshop will very much change your writing for the better and help your stories draw readers in.



Tags in fiction writing are maybe the most powerful tool an advanced fiction writer uses. Yet early on, writers don’t even know what they are, let alone how to use tags effectively. And when they do use tags, it is accidental.

This workshop will teach you how to use tags to help you not only build scenes and characters, but keep readers in your stories. A very complex topic that is another stage four workshop just like information flow.

This workshop will go through the varied areas and types of tags, how to use them, when not to use tags, and how even to use tags as a plot device.

Character tags, setting tags, plotting tags, mood tags, and so on. All of them are critical to writing fiction. And honestly, once you understand tags (and can even see them) in fiction writing, the writing becomes easier. They are like magic shortcuts in so many areas.

This workshop is a game-changer for your writing.



After you set up a great character in your opening, then what? How do you develop the character into a living, breathing, memorable character?

Instead of focusing on only the openings, this workshop will focus on the development of a character through a story. All kinds of characters in every genre.

Characters make a story memorable. We all describe books by the memorable character. A Travis McGee novel. Or a Jack Reacher novel. Or an Alex Cross novel. Or a Dirk Pitt novel. Or a Smokey Dalton novel. Or a Poker Boy story. And on and on and on.

Memorable characters, well-developed characters, are why publishers put the character names on the covers of books. Readers want to read more by those characters.

Among the many areas worked on in this workshop:
— Character background without information that bores.
— Know how to do characters that become the emotional heart of a story.
— Know how to make a character memorable.
— How to make a character become larger-than-life.
— How to make a character come off the page and actually live in reader’s minds.
— Character Pacing
— How to develop memorable, living characters while writing into the dark.
— And so much more, including many, many professional writer tricks of the trade.

There are only seven basic plots. What makes a story unique is the character development. That development is what this workshop is all about.

Important workshop for all genres.



Most novels have secondary plot lines.

This workshop helps you understand and build those secondary plot lines.

Ever read a book that you finished and it felt thin? As a reader you wished the author would have also done more with other characters in the book?

Secondary plot lines are critical in many novels. And not needed in others. Knowing when to add them and how and when to leave them out can be learned.

To learn how to construct secondary plot lines as you write a novel, you must first learn how the interaction of plot lines inside a novel work.

If you do not understand the concept of secondary plot lines, tune in any of the major television dramas such as NCIS or Hawaii Five-O or even comedy such as The Big Bang Theory. All run a major plot thread and a second plot line every episode.

This is a very expansive workshop covering a lot of plotting elements. It will help you be far, far more comfortable with the novel structure and plotting in general by the time you are finished. We can promise that much at least.



Understanding this very complex element of fiction writing is difficult, at best. It seems on the surface to be so easy, but just below that surface is one of the most powerful tools a writer has in their craft toolbox.

For lack of a better way of describing Information Flow, think of this workshop as a way to control your readers.

Readers build the story you are telling them in their head from reading the little black coding marks you are putting in front of them. If you are coding those little black marks correctly, the reader will see and feel what you want them to see

The reader will get to know your character the way you want them to know the character. The reader will feel the tension or lack of tension you want them to feel.

But if you allow them to make something up that does not fit your story and then try to correct it later, they get confused, annoyed, or just sort of drift out of your story and never come back. It is critical to a good storyteller to control the images and scenes the reader is seeing and feeling.

That’s what this workshop is all about on so many levels.


Even if you don’t feel you are ready for this kind of advanced workshop yet, it would be worth your time to take this and start to understand and give your creative voice permission to use much of this when it feels it is needed.



Stemming from a simple metaphor that your writing business, from creation to sales, can be shown clearly as a bakery.

But it is a magic bakery because in your bakery, when someone buys a slice of pie, the slice is still there, to be sold again. Same with the cakes, the doughnuts, the cookies.

The bakery remains full as long as you do not do something stupid.

In essence, this workshop combines learning copyright with understanding the nature of a business in fiction writing in a clear and understandable way.

This workshop will also give you perspective on being a freelance fiction writer. When to license a copyright, when not to, when to do movie deals and why. And even some about how. Because when you are standing inside your own magic bakery, so many things about publishing become very clear.

This workshop will help your magic bakery come alive.

This workshop is the following…

— A business workshop.

— A production workshop.

— A copyright workshop.

— A subsidiary rights workshop.

Yup, all of that and a bunch more.

A well-rounded look at a writer’s publishing business that will change how you look at your writing business.


All the above workshops now available and you can sign up for any of these on or if you have a workshop credit, write me.


  • Jim

    Hey Dean,
    I’m in love with your Seeders Universe novel, its something unbelievably amazing! I check your workshop, but still, I need something about how to write expository essay for my college. Do you have any valuable pieces of advice? Or maybe some kind of specific blog to follow? It can help me a lot!
    And the second – can you advise what novel I should pick next? I think about A Ghost of a Chance, but not quite sure now. Thanks for the advice!
    P.S. sorry for bothering

    • dwsmith

      Jim, grab the “Year’s Best Essays” and read that volume. Not exactly sure what you mean by expository essay. There are so many types and clearly your teacher has figured out a way to break out some in some artificial way (I do that sometimes in teaching classes myself to help people break down a lot of information.)

      For me, and this is ONLY ME, I love a personal feeling about an essay. But again, that is only one type of hundreds. Have fun. The essay form is wonderful when done right for the topic of the essay.

      As far as my books, I would stay in the Seeder’s Universe if you liked one of them. There are a bunch of them. They are all marked.

  • Teri Babcock

    I wanted to comment on the Point of View course because I suspect a lot of people slide past it, thinking they’ve got that covered. That course could just as easily be called ‘Advanced Depth: Point of View’. It is largely concerned with what points of view and depth in those POV to best serve the story. Being able to make those choices is an upper level skill and failure to do that well will distort both pacing and depth, and the story will not hold readers. But if you get traction with it and study this — and Dean explains exactly how in the course — you will start seeing another way that the masters hold people in story and it will come through in your writing.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Teri. That is exactly what the course is about. Really tough to get through to writers who just don’t think it is important, while actually one of the most powerful tool writers have to use. So thanks for the clarity on that.