The Journal, Thursday, 3/16

Hey Folks,

Today will be a writing day. Not sure what yet, but a writing day. And then I’ll run the grandchild to work around 3:30.

Every now and then, someone emails to ask what I think of one or another of DWS’ online workshops. As in, would I recommend it.

First, I pretty generally ALWAYS recommend learning from someone who’s been-there-done-that.

Especially if they’ve done it for a long time. Successfully. Because Duh.

Of course, I can’t guarantee any workshop will be right for you at your current level and with your current attitude. (I don’t even know what those things are for most of you.)

For that reason, when I’m asked privately to recommend (or not) a workshop or lecture, I’m usually pretty vague.

So with that disclaimer in mind, here are the workshops I’ve taken or would like to take.

Any workshops that don’t appear on this list simply don’t appeal to me personally. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be of value to you.

Topic: Recommended DWS Online Workshops

You can find full descriptions of all of these at

The stars (indicated by asterisks) refer to the workshops’ personal value to me. As they say in the advertising world, your results may vary. (grin)

First, the only free six-week workshop

*****Originality — I haven’t been through all of this one yet, but what I’ve already seen is filled with craft tips and tricks that reach across genres. Well worth the price (Did I say it’s free?) and more than worth the time to watch and listen. It will also give you an excellent introduction to Dean and how he conducts workshops. The first video is here: Write me for the rest of the URLs.

Second, the Classic Workshops

These used to be full-priced six-week workshops. Now they cost only $150, and you still get everything. You can still do the assignments for yourself as exercises. Plus you can go through them at your own pace and return to the videos whenever you like for the rest of your life.

*****Productivity — If you feel you just don’t have time to write (but you want to), I recommend this. I gleaned several other valuable but off-topic gems from this one, but it’s nothing short of amazing for helping you find more time. And set priorities. If you need this (I did at the time) it is well worth the money. I paid full price ($300) for this one and haven’t regretted it for a moment. You can get it for $150.

*****Science Fiction — This workshop is chock full of craft tips and tricks, and not only on SF. Unless you think you already know everything there is to know about the craft of writing (and if you do, you’re wrong), this would be an excellent investment. I also paid full price for this one and have no regrets. Again, you can get it for $150.

****Writing in Series — Another excellent workshop, especially at the reduced price of $150. I’m not effusing when I say this is excellent. Treat yourself.

***Genre Structure — This one isn’t so much about the actual structure of genres as how to classify your story after you’ve written it. He does get into the various touchstones that are important to readers in each genre though. Worthwhile at the reduced rate.

Making A Living With Your Writing — I haven’t taken this one, and I won’t. But if you’re below the age of around 40 and in good health, I recommend it based on the value I’ve found in his other workshops. This one is also only $150.

Third, the higher priced ($300) regular workshops

In these you have the opportunity to do the assignments, send them to Dean and get feedback. Most often, I found the feedback lacking, but the assignments are still very valuable as exercises.

*****Idea to Story — Absolutely invaluable. Amazing information on what an idea actually is, the difference between short and longer fiction, where to get ideas, how to write openings (and their value) and a great deal more. Naturally, this spans all genres.

*****Teams in Fiction — Excellent. He begins with a concept invented by Lester Dent (of the Master Plot Formula) and builds on it using works of other authors, including many popular television series. If you don’t understand how to build teams in fiction and the importance of doing so, you need this. He also delves into the importance of teams in various genres.

****Depth in Writing (AKA Writing with Depth) — I found the analogy he uses in this less than really helpful but I know it appealed to others in my class. The gems he shares here though, especially on how to get depth in openings and pull the reader into the story, makes this a valuable workshop.

The Business of Writing — I haven’t taken this one and I won’t because of my personal situation. But again, if you expect to be around for a career and you’d really like to turn a good profit from your writing, I recommend you take a hard look at this one.

Finally, there are still a few I’d like to take (so I recommend) but haven’t yet:

Writing Mysteries — I’ve written a few mysteries, including my most recent effort. But I’d still like to take this workshop. I don’t “know” the genre yet.

Pacing Your Story — I think I’m pretty good at this, but I’m also aware there are techniques I don’t know, and therefore don’t know to practice.

Adding Suspense to Your Writing — Maybe. I’m pretty good at this one. Still, it’s on the edge of my radar.

How to Write Thrillers — I won’t take this one, but I keep wanting to. Dean actually told me in a private correspondence that I probably wouldn’t get much from it that I don’t already know. Still….

Cliffhangers — Ditto what I wrote for the last three entries.

And last but not least, both Dean and Chris write amazing characters that drag the reader into the story. If yours don’t, consider taking their Character workshops.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 4 again. I don’t think it’s becoming a habit, but maybe.

Over my first mugga coffee, I finally answered a long email from an old friend. Even got a topic out of it. You’ll see it in a few days. I also already wrote the topic and posted it over at the main site. It’ll pop up there around the end of November.

In fact, I might’ve gotten two or three topics out of it. We’ll see.

Over my second mugga I ate breakfast, then headed out to the Hovel at around 9.

I cast about for awhile for something to do. Around 10 I opened my first reader’s notes on a novel I wrote awhile back called The Claim. I haven’t published it yet.

Today, for some reason, the “fix” for what he found in those notes came to me. I opened the document, added a Prologue, then added a few paragraphs to the Epilogue, and it’s finished. That took 795 words and about 40 minutes.

Then I decided there’s no time like the present to publish it. I put it up to Amazon, D2D and BundleRabbit. I’m a little nervous about not shipping it to Smashwords, but as with all things, we’ll see. (grin)

11:20 with all of that done, I’m taking a break.

11:30, back to the Hovel and looking for something to play with.

12, a line popped into my head. “The stubby, orange brush squeezing in on both side of the path stunk like roses dipped in sulfur.” I wrote and opening, then out to 1416 words. Then it stopped running, so I’ll set it aside. Sometime later I’ll probably jump off that sentence again and see where it goes.

1:40, a break.

2:05, back to the Hovel.

Around 2:20 I hit on another line: “It was just before 2 a.m. when John McReedy and I turned into the alley between Madison and Perth.” I think this one’s gonna run all right, so we’ll see.

Shutting down to file this at 3:15. Have to take the grandson to work in a bit.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Normal Nature of Being Behind in This New World” at

Oh and just for fun, check out Half the Fun of Being a Parent Is Trolling Your Children (

Fiction Words: 3187 (793, The Claim) (1416, The March)
Nonfiction Words: 1410 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4597

Writing of Novel Two

Day 1…… 978 words. Total words to date…… 978

Total fiction words for the month……… 33439
Total fiction words for the year………… 185305
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8970
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 45560

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 230865