Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

I Wrote Romance

I Always Use Romance Team Structure…

At least for the last 30 or 40 plus novels or so. I love the structure.

But I seldom commit actual romance. The character focus is on other things, like solving mysteries in my mystery novels, or time-travel in my sf series or fighting aliens in my Seeders Universe.

The one key element of a romance is that the focus must be on the relationship the entire way. The other plot stuff is just why they can’t be together instantly.

So today it dawned on me that the new Thunder Mountain novella (Warm Springs Meadow) that I just finished is a complete romance. The focus of the entire book is how the two characters will get and stay together after the meet cute.

Rare for me, but kind of fun to hit the genre by accident right in the center for a change. And it still fits in the Thunder Mountain series just fine. (Book will be available to my Patreon supporters after the first of the year. Right now those following my bumpy and postponed challenge have an uncorrected proof to read.)


Today a number of things happened…

Most Importantly… the Anthology Workshop started.

If you are signed up and didn’t get the first story assignment, get on the Yahoo group list to see it. And one more day (MONDAY) for anyone else to sign up. We have 4 spots left. Write me if interested. Then it gets closed off.

Today we also did a webinar on the second Negotiations Lecture. The first lecture is still available, as is the second, with one more webinar coming in it. And then three webinars in the third lecture next month. Still all open.

Today we also launched the second Pop-Up, this one on the goods and bad of setting up your own bookstore. All videos and the short story assignment are up and will be for two weeks if you don’t grab it. (Once on your dashboard, it will always be available to you.)

The first one still has another week before it vanishes, so still time to jump into it and do the short story there. Third one will Pop-Up next week on Writing Short Romance.

Below I have pasted all the information on the Pop-Up workshops.

The Pop-Up.

Over the last number of years, topics and fun things had come up that Kris and I wanted to talk about, but we had had no structure to do so. But now we do with these Pop-Ups.

These Pop-Up topics will just appear when something strikes us. No regular order or timing, but we hope to do more than one per month at least. In fact, the first three will all appear one per week every Saturday, with the first one in a few hours today.

Each Pop-Up will consist of from 10 to 20 videos on the topic. Maybe some extra stuff if the topic needs extra. And then one short story assignment.

The Short Story Assignment

Each Pop-Up will also have a short story assignment to a specific topic associated with the Pop-Up. If you decide to write the short story, you have until the date the Pop-Up vanishes to send Dean the story at (About a week or so, on average.)

Instructions and deadline for each will be in the assignment video. Or you can take your time, write the story, and just get it out to readers or markets on your own. Your choice.

Dean or Kris will read your story and give you feedback within one week of the deadline.

We will suggest markets if we know of any. Also, if the story fits something either of us are editing at that moment and we like it, we might ask for you to send it back for that project. To send it back or not will be your choice. You are not submitting a story to anything by sending the story to us for feedback. You are just getting us to read it like a first reader. Only we are experienced editors.

Why would we do this? Because, honestly, we love reading short fiction and we would love to see what writers could do with some of these topics at hand.

Time Limited

Each Pop-Up workshop will only be available for sale for two weeks, then it will be gone. Only those who have bought the Pop-Up or who have one of the bundle options for the Pop-Ups with that Pop-Up in it will be able to keep the Pop-Up on your dashboard.

And as I said above about the short stories, to get our feedback on your writing, you must hit the deadline specified. Otherwise just write it for yourself which will be fun as well.

You can also buy these in a bundle of five or ten to make sure you don’t miss any as they pop up. Everything is on Teachable.

Pop-Up #1… Great Comic Book Writers/Editors

With the death of Stan Lee last week, it dawned on Kris and I that we had known some of the best comic book writers and editors on the planet. Many great ones are still with us, thankfully, but over the last few years we have lost Julius Schwartz, Len Wein, and now Stan Lee. And because of our long careers, Kris and I have some wonderful stories about all three.

In essence, this Pop-Up will not only honor their work (some, but that has been done everywhere), but mostly honor the real people behind the legends.

So we hope you join us in a look at three of the great ones. It will be entertaining and informative, we promise. And the short story prompt at the end is great fun.

Pop-Up #2… Your Own Bookstore

At different conferences of indie writers around the country this last year, it has become clear that one of the main topics is writers selling books from their own bookstore directly to readers. Cutting out all the middle-distributors like Kobo, Amazon, and so on.

And now with Bookfunnel and numbers of pay services, the ease of setting up such a store makes it possible for just about any indie author.

But should authors do that? Here at the end of 2018 there is lots of discussion on both sides, with some writers making fantastic money from their own stores and others not finding it as easy as it seems to start.

This Pop-Up is a discussion of all the possibilities now. And a discussion if this is the future or not of indie publishing. Even if you have no desire to set up your own store at the moment, this Pop-Up could be invaluable in helping you make decisions for the future.

And yes, there will be a short story with this topic. A fun one.

Pop-Up #3… The History and the Reason to Write Short Romance Fiction

For almost 100 years, the short romance form dominated. From the early pulp romance magazines through the days of paperbacks and into the category romances, the novel length varied from 25,000 to 50,000 words at the high end. Short novels. And short stories on the romance side are also making a comeback after being mostly missing from major publishing for almost thirty years.

This Pop-Up helps with the history of the romance novel before they became large-sized. And the history of the romance short story. And then goes into a discussion on why to write short romance and how many indie authors are using the shorter form to great success and keeping readers happy.

This Pop-Up also goes into a little of the form of romance fiction to set up a coming full romance regular workshop coming in 2019. And yes, there will be a really fun short story assignment with this one.


We have a list of about twenty more of these we think would be fun to do, so don’t miss any of them. Sign up now on Teachable.





  • Lloyd MacRae

    “I Always Use Romance Team Structure” Wow. That kind of gave me a knock upside my head (grin). I do thriller, mystery, and sci fi and always wondered about writing a romance just to try it. But for some reason I couldn’t see how to do it. I guess it just didn’t feel like the kind of stories I like to write. But the simple concept of “the focus must be on the relationship the entire way. The other plot stuff is just why they can’t be together instantly” is a game changer. I’ve had flirting stuff in my stories from time to time but obviously kept it in the background – at times it’s just my sense of humor coming out – other times using it to create suspicion on why a character is doing it and stuff like that. This has opened up my mind on a whole series of stories where I bring the relationship between two people to the front & using the other stuff to keep them apart until the HEA end. Thanks very much, Dean.

    • dwsmith

      Lloyd, the romance team structure can be used for any genre. The focus in the other genres is just different. We do an entire six-week online workshop on different team structures. I think it helps people with their writing more than most of our workshops, and that is going some. (grin)

  • Jason M

    A romance is only as good as the obstacle keeping the two people apart. Best advice I ever heard about that.
    There’s a related saying about antagonists too: A story can only be as good as its antagonist is bad.

    • Maree

      Ha that’s so true! I love reading romance, but I’m incredibly picky about it, because too often romance novels are more of a frustration than a pleasure. And it’s exactly due to the obstacle being foolish and flimsy.

      Another excellent piece of advice I can add to the list is that if the central conflict of the plot (in any genre, but romance is particularly prone to it) can be resolved by the main characters having a five minute conversation then it’s not really a conflict worth hanging a novel on.

  • Caryl Giles

    Hi Dean. I’ve heard you speak about how great the romance structure is before, and this post reminded me of that. I’m very interested in learning more about it. I see the Team online workshop and the classic genre structure workshop, but what I’d really like to see is a Team Study-along workshop. Any chance of that happening in the next year or two?