Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

The Great Challenge

A New Writing Challenge…

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 online teaching, such as Pop-Up series or lectures or classics or lifetime 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 without missing, you will get three workshops 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.)



  • Harvey

    Wow. What an outstanding opportunity for some writers. I once wrote a story a week for 72 weeks, so this is do-able. I suspect (and hope) this one will fill quickly. I’ve shared it with every writer I know.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Harvey. I never made a story a week when I tried it the first few years of my writing life. I failed to 44 stories. (grin) Next year failed to 43. Failing to success.

      So Kris and I love this challenge and one of the reasons we have been working to figure out a way to make it happen and now we have enough workshops to make it valuable enough for writers to try the challenge and not only get stories, but workshops.

      • Harvey

        I’m pushing this hard on your behalf. I hope it gets “full” with signups.. I’ve done a story a week for 72 weeks (started April 15, 2014), but I’m so deep into writing novels now that I seldom think of writing short stories anymore (unless I write an opening and it intrigues me but doesn’t want to run to a novel).

  • Barb

    You’re evil, Dean. You’re luring me again! 🙁 I still have to sign up for the Anthology Workshop and now this! I’ve been meaning to write more short stories and this would be perfect to force me to write 1 short a week besides my other projects…
    Let’s see if I got it right, though. I sign up, then I write a short story a week from April 14th, right? And if one week for some reason I can’t send in a story, I get two online workshops or can sign up for another batch… correct?
    I’ll have to do some accounting, but you almost sold me on this…

    • dwsmith

      That’s correct, Barb. If you miss a week at any point after you start, which is sending in the first story, you automatically get credit for two regular workshops. Or, in essence, $600 credit to anything you want to take like Pop-Ups, lectures, classic, study-along, whatever. And if you want to try the challenge again, you can sign up again and give it another run.

      In essence, you are buying workshop credit, and getting some push to get short stories done. And if you get to 26 or 52 in a row, you get more. (grin)

      • Barb

        I shall sleep on it… of course it’s doable, but if I come also anthology workshop, those 6 weeks I’d have to write two different stories right? (not a problem, just asking for my schedule – I don’t think I’ll have trouble writing two stories instead of one for 6 weeks! *grin*)
        Tomorrow I shall make up my mind, promise! 🙂

        • dwsmith

          Barb, nope the story you would write for the anthology workshop would count as your story for the challenge as well. So no need to double up.

  • Gunnar Gunderson

    Dean, I had to laugh when I heard you say in the Introductory Video that this challenge will go on until ‘when there is nobody left.’ That sounds like a line from the 13th Warrior.

    Anyways, looking forward to April 14th.

  • Emilia

    I can’t take part due to life roll. Hopefully there’ll be a next time. I’m going to start saving for Lifetime Workshop in a couple months, but earning it by writing sounds more fun. I’m going to try and get a 52 stories per week streak to see if I can do it. I’ll get practise and ideas out of my head.

    • E. R. Paskey

      I’m in the same boat. Baby #3 is due in 10 days and as much as I would love to think I could pull this off, I think I’m better off for the next couple of months failing to success with some smaller, slightly more realistic goals. 😛

      I would love to try this, though. Jumping back into short stories this year–I usually write novels.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, Still open. The challenge is still up on Teachable. When it goes away there, the challenge will be full. But no threat of that yet.