Challenge,  On Writing

Great Challenge Revisited

Reposting This…

Because there are still spots open in both this short story challenge and the novel challenge. You can sign up for either on Teachable.


For the last few years I have done quarterly challenges that many people have enjoyed. And a lot of novels or stories have come out of those challenges that I enjoyed reading.

So a new challenge, with a brand new form. One a little saner and a little crazier in the same breath. And again, the fee goes toward two workshop fees.

Kris and I have been talking about this one for a while.

Here are the basics…

Every week, on Teachable, a new story prompt will appear. That prompt will be a video prompt that will be short, maybe with a writing tip with it, most of the time just explaining the prompt, the origin of the prompt, or maybe even some ideas possible with the prompt.

The Great Challenge is to write a short story a week and turn it in to have me read it that week. (Yes, I will read and comment every week on your story and answer questions about the story writing process.)

You can use the prompt if you want, but you don’t have to. Only rule for the story is that it be original that week, not something from your inventory.

Again, you can use the prompt or not. Your choice.

No genre limitations.

Length from 2,000 words minimum and up.

It has to be turned in by Sunday midnight West Coast Time to count in the challenge.

I will read the story that week and get you a reader response.

The cost is $600.

If you miss, at that point you get two regular online workshops or $600 credit toward any teaching, such as Pop-Up series or lectures or classics or lifetime workshops. Or even Las Vegas workshops

So in essence, you are buying two workshops, just as my challenges have been in the past.

The Great Challenge Reward…

First, you have a new short story every week to get out to markets or up to readers for as long as you can keep the streak alive

Second, if you hit 26 weeks in a row(from the week you start, you can start at any time) without missing, you will get three workshop credits instead of two. ($900 value in workshops.)

And third, if you hit 52 weeks in a row, you will get a lifetime subscription of your choice to all workshops, all lectures, all Pop-Up series, Study-along, or Las Vegas workshops.


This has to be limited in numbers. If it is still visible on Teachable, then you can sign up. When it reaches the max I can read of stories in a week, I will announce and pull it down.

So, in summary…

The Great Challenge consists of the following…

— Video story prompt every week.

— Dean will read your story every week and make comments and answer questions.

— Stories must be minimum of 2,000 words, max length is 15,000 words. No genre limits.

— If you miss, you instantly have credit for two workshops.

— If you get to 26 weeks in a row, you get three workshops when you miss.

— If you get to 52 weeks without missing, you get a lifetime subscription.

— Cost is $600. (And yes, if you miss, you can buy back in and start over.)

— First weekly story prompt goes up April 14th.

— Sign up on Teachable under The Great Challenge header, where the story prompts will be each week.

— This will be limited because I just can’t read too many every week.

Questions, write me.

Sign up on

This is going to be great fun.

(And even though this is posted on April 1st, it is not a silly joke. I think this could help a number of writers and will be fun for me as well to read all the stories.)



      • Helge Mahrt

        That’s actually really interesting. And leads me to more questions.
        You say to immediately publish the book, but what about a copy edit? I remember Kris writing to please please please do that with your self-published books.
        And what happens if I write more than the required 40k words in two months but the story isn’t done?

        • dwsmith

          You need a copyedit, always, before publishing a book. (On the novel challenge, I will gladly take an uncorrected proof in paper.) But try not to let anything see print without a copyedit on it. None of us can see typos in our own works. However, you can send me the book without a copyedit in turn-in mode, no issue.

          If the novel isn’t done, it isn’t done. Doesn’t count then. If you have to write 100,000 words in two months to finish a book, that’s what it takes. That’s 50,000 words a month, or about 1,670 words a day, which takes most writers about two hours. So very possible to do if you write longer books.