Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Week Three Great Challenge

Happy To Say Everyone Hit It…

Everyone who is writing a weekly short story got a story in. And a new person started and a couple others have not yet started, which is fine. In fact, perfectly fine to sign up at any point still. The Great Challenge is not filled and I am enjoying reading the stories. (Remember, you get workshop credit when you miss.)

I won’t talk much about this challenge going forward, since life will cause writers to miss from this point onward. That will just happen. My hope is that a number of them make it all the way. That would be so cool!

But that doesn’t matter. Right now those who started the first week have three new stories done and that is a total win.

So onward. I hope all the writers are having as much fun writing as I am reading the stories.

Regular Weekly Workshops Starting For May…

Amazing how the Time of Great Forgetting is hitting the workshops this month, just like it does every May. In fact, right now Research, Author Voice, Writing Sales Copy, Writing Short Stories, and Novel Structure have no one signed up for them.

Again, this is normal for May and June. But sign up now for any of those and pretty much you will be getting a private workshop from me. What I am amazed about is how every time we offer the Writing Sales Copy, it gets no takers or almost none. At any time of the year. Yet I constantly see horrid sales copy with books, so we leave it on the schedule just because…

Sales copy is the most important thing you can do to help sell your book besides your cover.

Let me give you an example. I just randomly went to Amazon and wrote science fiction and grabbed the blurb from the first book I saw. Here is the first two lines of a very long blurb.

They exist, but have been in a state of hibernation for millennia. Will mankind survive their violent awakening?

Dauria was young and idealistic when she helped create the pact to force all dragons to withdraw from the world of Man in Earth’s distant past.

(It goes on and on into really dull plot from there that would be far too much work to fix, but this is enough to give you a basic idea of a very basic point I am talking about.)

How about instead of that dull, passive attempt at a sales blurb, how about this instead? I am not changing much at all, notice. Just helping the reader be excited. And this is only one reason to take the sales copy workshop.

They existed in a state of hibernation for millennia. Will mankind survive their violent awakening?

Dauria, young and idealistic, helped create the pact to force all dragons to withdraw from the world of Man in Earth’s distant past.

So simple. But sales is a different language and just because you can type a sentence, doesn’t mean you understand sales copy.

Now back to your regularly scheduled time of great forgetting… (grin)


  • Mark Kuhn

    Dean, last week I figured I would give it a dry run before signing up for the challenge. So on Monday I started a story. Hit the wall at about light speed. Critical Voice was nagging at me so hard that by Thursday I couldn’t write anything.
    Heckin frustrating as anything. Critical Voice throwing one objection after another. Everything from “that won’t work” to “this story sucks”. That little five year old who wants to tell stories was nowhere to be found.

    • dwsmith

      Mark, yup, made the story important. (And put that word in an echo chamber and shout it… (grin))

      What you have to shift your critical voice to is the fear of failure of not finishing. Nothing is perfect in fiction, so having your critical voice focused on making something perfect because it’s important is always death, quick death as you discovered.

      So as I have told a few people in the challenge, focus on the extreme fear of not finishing and not getting something to me in the challenge. If the critical voice is busy focused on making sure you finish, amazing how stories just get done. (grin)

      • Stephannie

        LOL, this is where I’m at: the fear of not finishing. I want my stories to be good, of course, as good as I can make them, but more than that, I want to get them finished and turned in.

        • dwsmith

          Stephanie, writers are the worst judges of our own work, but we can control if we finish or not, and honestly, after this last year of life rolls for me, that is starting to scare me more than it has in years. (grin)

  • emmiD

    Last year, May marked the beginning of a great struggle in my writing. Eventually—!—I got back on track.

    One of my first steps was taking the first Depth workshop. That workshop inspired me and improved my writing so much! A few glitches occurred in August and October, but by mid November I was back to daily writing.

    I was still struggling, though. The writing was a slog. I had developed a huge outline back in April and tried to follow it. About this time I read your *Writing into the Dark* that came with the holiday writers bundle. “That’s it,” I realized, “I’m bored with this story.” So I abandoned the outline. Once I did, I flew through the last 2/3 of what became a 98,000 word mystery. And used that method for the next two novels I’ve published this year.

    But I worry about May. It is the season of forgetting. Distractions and disruptions make it so difficult to keep on track. I’ve got 2 D’s coming up and hope they won’t derail things.

    I suppose this long comment is a THANK YOU for helping writers with your workshops and books and challenges. I considered the novel challenge but currently I’ve no spare cash. I hope you repeat it.

    This is also a recommendation for anyone hesitating. Want to improve? Want to stay inspired? Then take a workshop. Follow Dean’s advice. Stop hesitating!

    • dwsmith

      Thanks,emmiD, and good luck with the coming distractions.

      And at the moment no worry on the The Great Challenge going away. Not that many signed up, so I can keep it active for a while.

  • Kenny Norris

    Damn, now you made me add another workshop to my to already over flowing study list. 🙂

  • Kate Pavelle

    I think this week’s story will be about me not finishing my story because I’m running out to rent a power washer (grin). #timeofgreatforgetting

  • Michael Kingswood

    Having lots of fun with The Great Challenge so far. 🙂 Like I’ve told you before, I find deadlines to be very, very helpful. So this is awesome!

    Time to get started on story #4. 🙂

  • Scott Gordon

    I just wanted to highlight this great advice again: “If the critical voice is busy focused on making sure you finish, amazing how stories just get done.”

    Keep your critical voice busy. Very busy.