Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  workshops

Five Story Collections

A Brand New Series of Classes…

Okay, this is not official yet, but here is what Kris and I are thinking for the Collection Class Series. This is the really fun idea that has popped up a bunch of times since the summer.

This would not be part of the regular workshop classes or subscription, but something very different and you will see why. But the upshot is that by the end of the class, you will have published a five-story collection you didn’t have going into the class.

Here is. the structure of each class in general. A nine week class. (Yes, I said nine weeks.) And each week will have five videos and an assignment.

Week #1…  General stuff about collections and the topic of the class. Assignment would be to come up with a number of possible titles and tag lines for your collection that you will be working toward.

Week #2 through Week #6… Videos about the subject of each class and each assignment will be to write a short story. Five stories in five weeks. (I will give you a bunch of prompts each week that fit the topic of the collection, but no requirement you follow any of them. They will be there just to help.

Yes, I will read all the stories, but not for critique reasons, but to help you shape your collection. Meaning I will read each story to tell you my opinion on which story to start with, which story should be put in the middle, which story to end with, and so on. Ultimately your decision, of course. So you will get my feedback after Week #6 (not each week) on how to arrange the stories and Week #6 will, in general, talk about all the varied reasons for story arrangements in different genres and types of collections. (More to it than you would think.)

Week #7… Videos on the reason and how to write collection introductions and story introductions on each story and the assignment will be to write that and back cover copy for your paperback edition.

Week #8… Covers and all the details and you will do a cover for me to help you with and check.

Week #9… Videos on all the aspects of publishing a collection and the assignment will be that you will show me proof for the assignment (a link) that you have published your collection.

So in two months you go from nothing to a collection published, detail by detail, focusing on a certain subject.


If you are signed up and actually turn in all five stories, do a cover, and then on the 9th week assignment send me a link showing that it is published, that is a total win. And I will give you a credit for any Pop-Up you would like. $150 value. A bonus for the win.

But you have to hit each step along the way to hit the challenge.


And now what is really crazy is that we will do this every two months, so six times a year with every one of the classes being a different topic. And the videos will be mostly new each time, focused on how to do a collection with that topic in mind. You can take all of the classes if you want 30 stories and six collections by the end of the year. (A little repeat along the way but not that much, amazingly.)

And I see this going on for a number of years, actually.

So here are the topics we are thinking about for the first year of collections. (I might write along with each one all year long and those attending can read my stories as well. I will give them to you each week.)

2021 Proposed Schedule… Collection Class Series

Jan/Feb… Portals.

March/April… Heroes/Heroines 

May/June… Private Eyes

July/August… Beyond Reality

Sept/Oct… Holiday (published end of October for the holidays).

Nov/Dec… Relationships (published ahead of Valentines Day)


The cost would be $500 each and $2,500 if you want all six. Again, this is not in the standard workshop subscription or will it be part of the regular ten workshops a month. We will be doing new regular workshops in the new year as well.

So again, this is not official. Comments do not mean you have to take one of these, just looking for feedback on this in general. And interest. As you have followed along, this took us a while to see how to make this nifty idea work. Not sure yet on doing this, so interest and feedback would be appreciated.

And one point about why I would think of doing all six as this goes along. Writing to order is always a way I get to stretch and it causes my creative voice to come up with stuff I can’t even imagine coming up with. I used to do a lot of stories to specific topics, often topics I never thought I could write about, and I really miss that, writing for Marty Greenberg anthologies.  That’s why I am going to do all six if we decide to launch this. I want to push myself and my creative voice. And since I am doing that, might as well share my process and the stories and collection I come up with with the class.

Again, this is not official. Questions or comments, feel free to post them. Just trying to get interest.


  • Mihnea Manduteanu

    This could be the most exciting thing I have seen you come up with. I would totally sign up for this, because it would provide motivation, support and such a clear and palpable end goal. Just spitballing here, would there be any rule against the stories being connected between them, in the same world maybe? One’s stories I mean, my own. Maybe like episodes of the same show.

    But yes, very very exciting prospect for me, to be involved in something like this.

    • dwsmith

      I would assume that many people would write in the same world on a topic. I know I sure would at times. And having a collection and five stories in the same world as some of your novels adds in a ton of promotion possibilities over coming years. So I would expect that.

  • Jim Gotaas

    These sound fantastic. The experience of the classes should be great, and then we get to add the stimulus to writing stories and completing collections and publishing them.
    My only problem is that you keep coming up with new opportunities to learn and write, and my bank account gets a bit unhappy!

  • Mary Kennedy

    Wow, is that a lot of work for you! But so awesome, the amount of information you’re going to cover. And at the end, we have no excuse for not publishing it.

    I’d be in. If I had resources enough, I’d do lots of them. As it is, I’d go for the Holiday one, and probably the Private Eyes. But if you did go on to other years, I’d probably try and do one a year, depending on the themes.

  • Julie

    I really, really hope you do this one because I’d absolutely love to do them all. My health is a bit crappy so I doubt I’d hit all the targets but as you wrote yesterday, just by having things to aim for, you end up with loads of stuff that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.

    And, like you, I love writing to order. I’ve created stories and series characters that I’m really pleased with, in response to short story assignments in your other classes. I’d never have come up with them otherwise. I’d never think to write a portal story but there they are on the list!

    Some might want to submit the stories to magazines initially rather than publish collections straight away but again, that doesn’t matter – I think we can all adapt these courses to our particular preferences and circumstances and get an enormous amount out of them. And once rights revert, there will be the collections, ready-made.

    So, so excited at the prospect of this for some structure for 2021!

  • Julie

    I just wanted to mention another idea for a workshop, which came up in the Holiday Crime workshop today – how to write ghost stories! Would that interest you?

  • Bonnie

    I am interested. The private eyes (or some mystery type theme) in particular and then holidays for me. I don’t plan on much travel for classes and such next year so I’d definitely have the money to invest in this sort of class.

  • Mihnea Manduteanu

    I would sign in for the first two for sure, the portals and heroes / heroins. Really pumped about this.

  • Dave Raines

    This is very attractive in at least two ways: writing to order, as you’ve said; and also leading right into a structure for publishing. I’ve got a collection sitting on my hard drive because I wonder what I’d write to introduce the stories, and if my cover is adequate. A solvable problem in the “just get ‘er done” sense (you’ve talked about that too), but the structure you’ve described avoids “I’ll just get ‘er done… someday.”

  • Topaz

    That sounds like great fun. Especially given, that I’m still trying to write good titles for my stories.
    Week 7 is something else I’m looking forward to.

    My favorites are Relationships, Portal, Heroines and Holidays.

  • Julie

    Dean, when you say, ‘I will read all the stories, but not for critique reasons, but to help you shape your collection’ do you mean that you won’t give any feedback on whether they’re strong / lacked depth / didn’t get the story going fast enough, etc. as you usually do with short story assignments?

    A lot of people might be aiming to submit the stories to markets before they eventually go into the collections and I always really value your feedback on stories. I know, of course, that you don’t go in for the sort of detailed critique that some writers seek from groups of other writers.

    • dwsmith

      Julie, the idea for the workshop is that the writer has confidence in their own work and wants to write five stories and put them in a collection. So I will look at and read the stories enough to help with the sixth week of putting the collection together and also enough so I can help with judging a sales description in the intro or on the back cover.

      This is not a critique workshop, this is a class to help writers build collections that go on the market by the end of the class. And to get writers to write, so sort of a challenge class as well.

      You know, if you have a story in a collection that doesn’t quiet work, NO ONE WILL NOTICE. So me giving a critique, which is only my opinion, would be just flat silly for the aim of this class, which is to write and get a collection of five stories on the market.

      And if a writer is seeking critiques from groups of other writers so they can fix stories, they are doomed. No need for me to work with them.