Challenge,  workshops

Workshops You Might Want?

Taking Suggestions…

If there is something you wish Kris and I would talk about over the spring and summer, let me know here in the comments or by private email.

I know we had a lot of writers wanting the anthology workshop to come back and it is back now for August 5th through 8th here in Vegas. (Still some openings.)

And we had a lot of questions about the novella classes and we are doing them. SF is starting later today at

And yes I plan on finishing my branding series.

But any other ideas that you really wish someone like me or Kris would talk about, feel free to suggest them here or to me directly.


Right now I am headed toward the writing computer. I am back (even with the sore arm) having a blast and picking up speed. Damn writing is fun.


  • Emilia

    If I’m thinking what I especially would want, information flow and depth in secondary world settings are challenging. How to get the reader into a made up world and keep them there.

    Non-human point of view tips would be fun as well.

    In general, both you and Kris have talked about staying healthy, and Kris’ Writing With Chronic Illness helped when I got a life roll.
    More information on how to stay fit for writing outside of the writing chair. There’s myths in the writer circles, like the one about writer’s drinking a ton of coffee and being stressed all the time, but I can’t hear the creative voice if my heart is pounding in my ears from excessive caffeine.

  • Fabien Delorme

    I’m still having issues with SF (especially space opera) short story openings. How to do all the depth without being dull, and efficiently. Some stories pull me in instantly, in a few hundred words, sometimes just a few sentences, I have a very clear image of the setting and atmosphere, and I certainly can’t do that yet.

    SF short story openings were addressed in the Applied Depth workshop, but not that much, and I’d be really interested if there was some workshop / pop-up talking about this more deeply (sic). With detailed examples for instance.

    • dwsmith

      Doing examples is something Kris and I feel writers can do on their own, but since few study other writers, we are starting to reconsider that. Might be something to bring in. Thanks.!

      • Fabien Delorme

        Sometimes I can read an opening, know that it works because the story pulled me in in the first place, but even by studying and typing it I can’t understand *why* it works.

        Ditto with power words, in the past I couldn’t understand how writers such as Dean Koontz could create thick, creepy atmospheres in a page or so, until the power words workshop taught me where I should focus my attention.

        The “who what how to study in mysteries” pop-up series was very helpful and something like that for other genres would be tremendous.

        • Aniket Gore

          Yes, that entire pop-up series was fantastic. I would like to have similar for fantasy and sci-fi if possible.

  • Jeremy Bouma

    Whatever happened to the 2nd iteration of Shared Worlds? I went to my Teachable dashboard the other week and thought I caught it was supposed to have started in January some time. Would be great to get that rolling! Or is that on hold?

    And I also think I caught something novella related that might come to Teachable — paired down from the full 9-week thing Kris is doing. Something basic on that would be nice. How to do it, what to focus on, how to structure as you go, etc…

    Looking forward to another few quarters of learning in 2024!

    • dwsmith

      Shared worlds is on hold because we didn’t get enough interest. We might push it again after a while.

      Novellas are now Kris’s world for the next year at least. (grin)

  • Dave Raines

    “What you can learn from great writers of yore.” Like, what made Heinlein great? Dent? Asimov? LeGuin? How did they achieve those effects? Maybe approach ideas, depth, worldbuilding, etc. through reading assignments and then teaching. I don’t know, I have lots of other workshops I could take. But that one sounds interesting to me.

    • Rob

      One of the things I loved about the in-person mystery workshop I went to was the assigned reading and discussion. To piggyback on Fabien’s comment above about examples, I think it’s getting harder to find modern stage-4 writers to study these days. “Bestseller” has become a less-useful indicator in modern publishing. If I go by something like Amazon’s bestseller list, it’s mostly stuff pushed by algorithm. If I go by the NYT bestseller list, it’s predominately the usual suspects out of traditional publishing we’ve been seeing on there for years (dare I say “decades”).

      Don’t know if this counts as a suggestion. Just me thinking out loud. 🤔

  • Kate Pavelle

    I would love something on “painting with words,” the kind of painting that would make no sense if taken literally but which fits the character perfectly and adds tons of emotion, opinion, and setting. I see it when others do it, but I don’t see it in my own writing.
    This may be a bit ephemeral, but it’s the kind of “wow, itneat how they did that, how come I can never think of doing that” frustration on my end.
    The hard part is that this requires thinking about words, but my focus has been on telling the story.
    Would writing poetry help? Would you consider doing a poetry workshop as a form of cross-training for fiction writers?

    • dwsmith

      Kate, sounds like a fun idea for someone still focused on words instead of story like we are. So nope, but thanks.

      • Kate Pavelle

        Dean, we all occasionally focus on words. It’s not like we can avoid them. You and Kris even teach a Power Words workshop, which was worth taking in every respect.
        Poetry is just another prism through which we can explore power words. Like other modes of enrichment, it sure doesn’t detract from the story flow when we write.

      • Rob

        How about the opposite? How to STOP focusing on the words. Probably wouldn’t make for a full workshop. Maybe a pop-up. Though a lot of the workshops already touch on this indirectly.

  • Deb Miller

    After listening to week 5 of the Paradox class, I would love to learn more about themes. When I think of themes, I think of my English classes and go, yuck! But my guess is that you and Kris would approach themes in a different way.

    • dwsmith

      Not really a class we would teach. Professional writers seldom write with theme in mind. Literary writers do, but commercial entertainment writers not so much, so not much we could teach I’m afraid.

  • Tony Hernandez

    Horror. Now, i know that horror can be an anti-writer cookie for you two, but you both also love King (like me).

    Yes, there is lowbrow horror that only does the blood and guts, Splatterpunk, but that’s the bottom of King’s Three Levels of Horror.
    1. is Terror. The best and hardest to pull off (i can swear i didn’t put that cup there)
    2. is Horror. Second hardest to pull of and less scary than Terror (the cup has grown spider legs and is crawling on the walls)
    3. is the easiest and worst, the Gross-Out (a crazed man cuts his arm off with a cup [give me a break, i had an analogy to stick to]).

    In the end, horror is a subgengre of suspense and y’all already do that. But not King’s 1 and 2.

    • dwsmith

      Tony, King seldom does horror anymore, and he hasn’t been in the horror genre for 45 years. He is in the bestseller genre.

      We don’t talk much or worry much about horror because it is the second worst selling genre (only barely beating Literature). I also was nominated twice for a Stoker Award back in my early days. We see no reason to teach writers how to write into a dead pool. Not worth our time or the writer’s time.

      But all three of your areas are doing great in the movies, or were five years ago.

        • dwsmith

          All genres have reader expectations. The term “breaking out” means your book sold enough to break out of the expectations of the genre. The Bestseller Genre is full of authors that have done that and sell a lot of copies and don’t tend to fall into a genre. Stephen King, Clive Cussler, Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, and so on. No genre expectations by the reader, just a great read and something that sells a lot of copies.

          This genre does not really exist in indie publishing and it is dwindling to only a hand full of authors in traditional, all older ones with only one or two exceptions. And remember, genres are only marketing tools that help readers find books.