Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Ideas On My Lists for Pop-Up and Workshops…

I Have A List…

Actually two lists, tacked on my computer with thoughts of “That would make an interesting Pop-Up” and the second list is possible workshops.

Thought I might share a few of the residents of those lists here. Comments are welcome, but be nice. Remember, it is only your opinion and someone else may really love the idea or hate it. And saying you like it does not commit you to taking anything.

Kris and I are always looking for more ideas if you got something that you think would be a good idea for writers to study or learn or that you want to study or learn.

Also realize that I write things on the list, then a month later look at it and have no idea what I was thinking and scratch the title off. So this is just a moment in time on both these lists.

On My Pop-Up List…

— “No one will buy my book.” Basically, this is a Pop-Up idea of the massive fear that stops most writers. Many of you have gotten past this, but you can’t believe the numbers who have not. And even after a bunch of books published, this fear still crippled. The Pop-Up would be to help kill that fear.

— “Writer’s Deadly Delusions.”  Oh, my, there are a bunch of these. Expecting to sell a lot with a first book, expecting to make a lot of money, indie publishing is easy, indie publishing is below me, and so on and so on. This might be better warped into a companion six-week workshop with Killing the Critical Voice. Six weeks of retraining writer’s minds.

— “Can I Sell Books Without Promotion?” The answer of this questions is (of course) “It depends.” And that’s what the Pop-Up would be about. What is promotion? What stage of your writing are you at? What kind of promotion do you think you need? To Bookstores or to fans? And so on and so on… Again, this might be a great six week workshop, actually, now that I think about it. Hmmm… (Add this to the list below.)

— “Tension in Writing… Things Get Worse.” This would be a craft one, and again might be a better six week workshop. Hmmmm….

— “Making a Living with Novels.” This would be a companion Pop-Up to making a living with Short Fiction. You know… math and time.

— “Stages of Publishing.” I am thinking of doing this as a nonfiction book, in a series of blogs, actually. I just had it on this list to remind myself about it. Might end up a book and a six week workshop.

On My Possible Workshop List

Besides the three above that clearly might be good workshops, here is what I have scratched down at the moment.

— “Pacing- Advanced.” More than likely way, way too advanced, and no one would take it, but I have kept it on the list because it would be such a fun challenge for me and Kris to lay out and record and try to make sense with for writers who still haven’t mastered hitting the return key with any logical sense.

— “Memorable Characters.” This would be a craft workshop that I think would be amazingly valuable for most writers. And help book sales for writers. Kris and I both have done our share of memorable characters and way back when a bunch of writer friends of ours (who are now all major bestsellers) got together and studied mostly this topic for an entire weekend in a house on the coast. It was amazing fun. More than likely this is a workshop coming this spring or early summer.

— “Power Words.” A workshop that would help takes writer’s craft to another level, but damn near impossible to explain. This topic is like pacing. Early stage writers can’t even see it and when they do use power words, it is by accident. Just like tags and pacing. Advanced topic. Ever wonder how major writers can get readers feeling exactly what they want them to feel when they want it… Part is the use and control of power words. And it is not something you do from the front of your brain. You have to see them, learn how to use them, and then just let your creative voice go.  Like Advanced Pacing, might be too much, but would sure be fun to teach. (grin) But no one would sign up. Check in with yourself, be honest, don’t tell me, but this is one you would just skip over, right? Because you don’t even know what they are.

— “Floating Viewpoints.” How to do them, when to do them, when not to use them. Another advanced craft workshop, but at least most early stage writers know what this is. The rule early on in a career is just not use this because you won’t do it right. Switch viewpoints at scene or chapter breaks. But at a certain level, doesn’t hurt to let your creative voice know how to do this correctly when needed. A very powerful tool as long as no one notices you are doing it. (grin)

Also got a few other sort of half-hearted ideas, such as teaching Romantic Suspense, and a couple other sub-genres.

So that is what is on my two lists here at the end of January.

Any comments, either put them here or write me.


  • Céline Malgen

    About power words: far from pushing me away, the very fact that I don’t know what they are makes me want to take the workshop. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think that it’s a concept you can’t explain in a few words, it’s probably worth studying in depth, because it’s unlikely that I’ll find the concept explained elsewhere.

    Things get worse and memorable characters also sound like great topics to study. As usual, too many choices! (Which is of course a good problem to have.)

    • dwsmith

      Oh, never seen it even attempted anywhere else, Celine. You are right there. It is just something bestsellers and stage four writers do when it is needed without thinking.

      Interestingly enough, the workshop on memorable characters would deal some in power words. And in tagging some. All building blocks toward creating memorable characters for readers.

  • Steve Lewis

    Personally, I REALLY want the Advanced Pacing and Power Words workshops. They sound really cool. Probably incredibly tough, but really cool.

    I can’t remember which one, but you mentioned Power Words in another workshop (maybe Emotion or Pacing?) and they sounded amazing. I know they probably won’t ever happened, but I’d loved it if they did.

    Also, on the off chance it might influence things, I’d love for there to be an Advanced, or even Intermediate , Information Flow workshop.

    Lastly, a couple of quick questions:

    1) How would a memorable characters workshop be different from the Pop-Up? Obviously, it would be more in depth, I’m just wondering what it would cover.

    2) Just in case pigs sprout wings and you do the Advanced Pacing workshop, is there any chance character pacing might be covered? That would be awesome.

    • dwsmith

      A ton more in depth and practicing so that you do it regularly. The Pop-Up was more focused on surface and likable characters. There are some amazing techniques that bestsellers use to create memorable characters. And they can be learned. It would make a very full and complete six week workshop. And yes, character pacing is part of Advanced Pacing. Something most writers just went “What?” when I said that. (grin)

  • Linda Maye Adams

    The first thing I thought with power words was what Margie Larson teaches in her Deep Editing package (which I also think of as a form of pacing). It commented on using words with a high emotional impact at the end of a sentence or a paragraph and cited best selling writers. As it turned out, that was a lot more advanced then it seemed! Power Words sounds like a fun class I would take.

    I definitely want to see most of these, though I’d pass on the first two pop-ups. I especially would be interested in more on Pacing. Almost no one else talks about this subject except to say “Do short sentences.” If ML has this emotional word technique that is pacing, and I spotted a similar one James Patterson was doing (hitting an emotional point at the end of a paragraph), then it makes me wonder what else encompasses pacing.

    • dwsmith

      Linda, so, so much more to pacing than that. And Larson’s workshop is rewriting focused. So caution. All critical voice.

      Power words do have emotional impact, sometimes, but they also have underlying meanings at times as well. You use them not through critical voice but through creative voice. Thanks!

  • Ann

    Floating Viewpoints… I’ve been analyzing a lot of Nora Roberts books for this, including your advice of typing it word for word. I can see what she did but the how and why is not yet clear enough for me to do it well in my own writing. There are times when this would be a helpful tool to have.

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, Nora is one of the best at it, although King is stunning, but hard to study. It is a handy tool and you end up using it, once you know how, without realizing it when it is right to use.

  • James

    Pacing was my absolute favorite workshop and I would love to take advanced pacing. Power words sounds cool too.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, James. Drifting more and more toward Advanced Pacing class. And maybe something shorter, like a Pop-Up to just explain what Power Words actually are and how they work. Got to have that level before people can want to learn how to use them. Thanks!

  • Victoria Goddard

    I’d like all the workshops! I really like the craft ones I’ve taken. (I did get Pacing on one of the Covid sales last year but haven’t worked through it yet–maybe that’s what I should start next week.) I’d also be interested in Tension, Stages of Publishing, and Making a Living with Novels.

  • Kat

    I was hoping you’d have Advanced Pacing on that list. I was going to ask for it if you didn’t. I would love to take that one, please and thank you. Power words sounds excellent too.

    I’d also love the Stages of Publishing. Are you thinking about Career or the process of Publishing? I’d take both. *grin* I think that one would work surprisingly well with the Promotion one, too. I was even thinking about the “depends” on the Promotion question, and how that would tie into where you were in your career and/or a series, before I got to the Stages book/workshop idea. So yeah I’d take both of those.

    All of these sound good to me, though. I’d be interested in all of them. *grin* That’s not very helpful, is it?

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, the Stages of Publishing would connect nicely into the When to Promote workshop. Hadn’t thought of it in that way. Thanks.

  • Carolyn Ivy Stein

    I love all of the Craft ideas and would love a course in romantic suspense. I can’t even pick between them, they all look good and I need all of them. If you had all of them available today I would probably take the Advanced Pacing first and then the Romantic Suspense, so you can consider that my level of interest/urgency to learn those things. I just went through the Information Flow, so building on that would be great for me.

    Stages of Publishing and Making a Living with Novels are also appealing to me. I am concentrating on craft and learning novels this year so anything that helps that perks my interest. It’s an exciting list.

    • dwsmith

      Carolyn, yeah, I am sort of leaning to the fun of Romantic Suspense myself. And looks like Stages of Publishing will be both a book (blog series) and a class of some sort.

  • Emilia Pulliainen

    The regular Pacing workshop was great fun and I think it helped my writing, so I’d definetely take the Pacing- Advanced workshop. Also I think you mentioned power words in the Emotion workshop, I was and am definetely curious.

    I’d take all the workshop and pop ups, but those two interest me the most.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Emilia. You were one of just two people who took that regular pacing workshop in all of 2019, so that’s why we moved it to Classic. So will give Advanced Pacing some thought. Thanks!

  • Filip Wiltgren

    Some great ideas, Dean!

    I’d buy a Stages of Publishing book. Especially if it included the first steps for every stage, and how to know when you’re in it, like in the Stages of a Fiction Writer.

    I’m fact, I think that a lot of your pop-ups and workshops would be great as companion books. Maybe something for the future?

  • Jason M

    Memorable characters, definitely.
    I’m pretty good at that already, according to readers, but it would be great to refine that particular skill.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Hi Dean!

    Going down the list, I’d be interested in:

    Tension – things get worse. I need that, because with genre-hopping, even if I get the pacing right I feel like I take it too easy on my characters at times. “Nothing too traumatic” is a bad hold-over from romance, at least in my case.

    Memorable characters – YESSSS! Definitely. The more I write, the more my characters feel the same to me. It’s like having a “type” and finding only two or three types of people sexy, and looking for them all the time. I think I recycle too much. I try not to, but when I consciously try, the critical voice bites me in my ass. Arrgh. (Alternate course title: “How to fall in love with all kinds of fictional people.”

    Power Words – I like the concept a lot. You mentioned it back in the Thrillers workshop on the coast, but I haven’t thought of it since. Six or so years later, I feel like I’m ready to play with that.

    New idea: Streaker Challenges. Especially useful for those of us who have completed a challenge (or are completing one soon.) After the Story Challenge, I took a “break” from short stories and it was way too long. Should’ve just kept going. I am currently scrambling to publish a collection in January so that I don’t break my streak and can do a Month #13. Having a support-group type mechanism with automatic reminders would be great. Not sure how you’d want to do it. I’d caution away from FB, as I tend to stuck when I get on it. Maybe auto email reminders with a Google Docs spreadsheet, where people can self-report for bragging rights and cross-promo? Just thinking aloud here.

    Thank you, it’s always fun to learn something new.

  • E. R. Paskey

    Well, this is an exciting post. *grin*

    As far as Pop-ups go, I would dearly love to go through “Making a Living With Novels.” (The one on short fiction was fantastic, but my creative voice still prefers novels.) I’d also like the “Tension in Writing” one. (Stages of Publishing also sounds cool, regardless of whether it’s a Pop-up or a workshop.)

    As far as workshops… I would really like to go through Advanced Pacing and Floating Viewpoints. I’ve been through the classic pacing workshop and the classic POV workshop and they were both real eye-openers. (I have a novel right now that wants to be written with floating viewpoints and I haven’t quite mustered the courage to get more than a couple of chapters into it.)

    Power Words and Memorable Characters also sound fascinating. Taking the Tags workshop really made me aware of the tags that exist everywhere, and these sound like they would complement that very well. (Was it the Tags workshop in which you mentioned Power Words? I can’t remember.)

    Romantic suspense and Stages of Publishing also sound like fun…oh, decisions, decisions, decisions…

    I’m excited just thinking about the possibility of learning more. Thanks for considering teaching these.

  • Margaret

    Hi Dean,
    So many of the possible workshops / popups sound really, really good.

    Of the pop-ups I would really like to take:
    (1) Tension in Writing–Making Things Worse — but think I would be able to absorb more in a six-week format than in a pop-up.
    (2) Stages of Publishing.

    Of the workshops, I want to take:
    (1) Power Words (I have been thinking about word choice and active words and this workshop could really move my thinking along).
    (2) Floating Viewpoints — I find myself writing scenes for which I would like to do a floating viewpoint, have worked at it a bit for practice, but haven’t really utilized it.
    (3) Advanced Pacing — for this one, I am interested, but not sure that I am at the writing stage where I would be able to get the most out of it.

    Looking forward to taking new classes.

  • Annie Reed

    Advanced pacing, power words, floating viewpoints – I’d be interested in all of those. More tools for the toolbox.

  • Aniket Gore

    Power word, advance pacing and memorable character. Please do them all 🙂
    In pop-up tension one seems great and yes, stages of fiction writing please. I loved the lecture and book. It was actually an eye opener for me. I would love to have a pop-up in depth on this topic.

  • Nick

    Hi Dean,

    Really exciting to hear about potential new workshops. I’d be keen for Tension, Memorable Characters, and Power Words.

  • Betsy Horvath

    Hi, Dean –

    I’m a little late to the party, but for what it’s worth I’d like to put in a plug for the Promotions pop up. It’s so hard to find any sort of rational advice out there about advertising and promotions that does not require spending a great deal of money on ads. Spending a lot of money on ads (even if I could afford to do it) would be a waste of time for me at this point since I’m still building up the number of books I have out. I’d love to get your take on the issue, either as a pop-up or part of the Stages of Publishing book.

    Thanks!! 🙂

  • Bonnie

    Another one for power words and advanced pacing. I learned a lot in pacing, which is often one of my struggles. And words? Oh yeah–that would definitely push craft a bit further!

  • Thomas Bennett

    The advanced pacing worksop interests me as I have the classic pacing workshop. Selling without promotion is the most interesting popup in the popup list and maybe making a living with novels as there’s probably crossover there.

  • Amy

    Just to add to this. I fancy all the craft ones!

    Plus, I’d love something – if not a Pop-up, then a lecture – on first-person vs third-person. I find myself naturally drawn to first-person when I want to be voice-y but am aware that it’s supposed to be distancing and am wondering what the choice between the two is really all about.

    Also, as things have changed over the last few years, including with the ability to have your own store on your author website, I’m wondering if the distinction between an author website and publisher website for an indie author remains the same and whether both are necessary – and if so, for what kind of authors? For example, only those intending to sell directly to brick-and-mortar bookstores? And how to avoid duplicating content and doubling the work.

    Also, something on the distinction and relationshop between your author business (as a company/trader) and publishing business (as a company/trader). What business arrangements do you need between the two, and why? What contracts?

    And I’d like something on frontmatter and backmatter, both for paper and for e-books, including the copyright/rights reserved declaration, how to handle links to other books, and so on.

    Just some ideas there…

    • dwsmith

      Amy, the debate over third and first person in fiction is an English teacher debate and has nothing at all to do with writing stories. But I have to admit, it fills a ton of pages out there with people’s opinions. There is no difference, just whatever the story calls for. First person can be slightly distancing to readers, second person is stupid in fiction unless there is an exact reason for it, and third is the standard through history form of telling a story around a campfire. So ignore all that crap, write what you want, and spend time worrying about things far more important.

      You can have one bookstore on your publisher web site, and then a link to it on your author web site. Very simple, so not sure what that question was to be honest. As for selling to brick and mortar bookstores, of course you can do that, while also having your books everywhere else. You want books out wide, not limited. (I think I missed your question…try me again if I did.)

      Early on there is no difference. It’s not until you start paying taxes on your writing income (meaning your income is above your expenses you can legally claim) that you think about setting up a corporation (C only for writers) and then you get into all the rest of your question. I have lectures and stuff on that.

      And I think we do cover front and back matter in numbers of places. Links can be in there, without issue in most cases. Paper, of course, you just list your web site.

      (Again, not sure of the question… don’t think there would be enough for a pop-up, maybe a lecture, but it changes depending on if you are using Vellum or not.)

  • Robert Battle

    I think all sound good to be honest. But what caught my attention the most was Writer’s Deadly Delusions, Stages of Publishing, Advanced Pacing, Power Words, and Tension in Writing.

    Maybe a pop up class on how to handle “writing extra” when writing into the dark. How to recognize it with tips and tricks to move past it.

    • dwsmith

      Not sure what you mean by “writing extra”??? That sounds like a critical voice thing, to be honest. How would you know if you wrote extra or if that is just your critical voice coming in and saying “better cut that or you will get in trouble.” So explain what you mean on that if I am wrong at the conclusion I just jumped to. (grin)

      • Robert Battle

        Yes you are hitting right on nail on the head. I was referring to in your book writing into the dark there is a line on something the line you will write extra. I was wondering on recognizing the difference between the positive side of writing extra and vs the critical voice trying to go in a negative direction.

        • dwsmith


          To start out, just leave it all in. Your creative voice put it in for a reason. Twenty or thirty or fifty books down the line, you will be able to see novel structure and know when a bubble doesn’t fit, unless you are trying to pad pages for a traditional publisher. Basically nothing wrong with bubbles. They are caused when you are writing into the dark and your creative brain is just sort of going, “Let’s look over here…” and off you go, and eventually you come back to the normal line through the book, usually at about the same place. Most readers love those side trips and I leave them in more than not. But you NEVER know you are on a side trip until after you finish the entire book. Then after twenty or thirty novels, you can sort of see them. My suggestion is that anything you write into the dark on a story, leave in. Critical voice is ALWAYS WRONG.