Writing, Arts & Entertainment

Borrow From Your Influences

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 10:49 min

From Shakespeare and Dickens to Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King, Bob breaks down what he's learned about storytelling from some of his favorite writers.

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Topics include: Gain Storytelling Skills by Reading • Borrow From the Best • Learn Horror From Ray Bradbury • Learn Plot From Agatha Christie • Learn to Be Creepy From Stephen King


Somehow, it goes hand in hand. If you want to be a writer, you probably are a good reader. But I find that the more I read-- I read a lot of thrillers and a lot of mysteries-- and it really helps my writing. Not by stealing things or by taking ideas, you see, but just sort of by osmosis. When you see how people say things and how they write and just the different writing styles-- you kind of absorb it. I think most writers love to read. I do. I read all the time. I read every day. I try to read all the new fiction. And I read-- I read some horror novels, but mostly, mysteries and thrillers. I was an English major in college and read all the great stuff, and it has to affect you. And a lot of it stays with you. So I think, when you start to write, it's perfectly fine to remember those things you loved, those things you read, and to use them. To go on and develop them in a different way. It's sort of to borrow, what they did. [MUSIC PLAYING] I'm a big borrower. One thing, I write so many books, that I need so many ideas so I rely on the things I've seen and the things I've read. I've never written a Christmas book, and an editor at MacMillan asked me, let's do a Christmas book. And I was thinking immediately, I thought, well, I hadn't done it because Christmas isn't scary. Doesn't seem appropriate time for horror. But then, I realized that the most popular Christmas book of all, is a ghost story-- the Dickens story, "Christmas Carol." And that's a ghost story. And I thought, OK. I will do that. Why not? Why not steal from the best? I'll take from Dickens. And I wrote a book called, "Young Scrooge." And it's about Scrooge. I took the character as a 12-year-old, and he's the biggest bully in school. He's just a horrible bully. And I have the ghosts. I have the whole story. And he's 12-year-old Scrooge, but that was something of borrowing from a classic. I wrote a teen horror novel called, "A Midsummer Night's Scream" So Shakespeare's useful, too. [MUSIC PLAYING] I'll tell you a story about a librarian who actually changed my life. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio-- in this little community in Columbus, Ohio. One day, my mom dropped me off at the library-- we had a little library on Main Street. And I walked in and the librarian knew me and she said, Bobby, I know you like comic books. And that's actually all I read as a kid. I only read comic books and these horror and funny comics. She said, I know you like comic books. I have something I think you'll like. And she took me over to a shelf of Ray Bradbury stories. And I couldn't believe these stories. They were so creative and so beautifully written, that I was like blown away by them. They all had great, funny endings. They were just what I liked. Ray Bradbury really-- and that librarian-- really turned me into a reader. Kids always asked me to recommend a scary book and I always recommend Ray Bradbury's book, "Something Wicked This ...

About the Instructor

Award-winning novelist R.L. Stine wrote jokes and funny stories for 20 years before he switched gears and became a horror-writing legend. Since then, the author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series has sold more than 400 million copies. In his first-ever online writing class, Bob takes the fear out of crafting fiction. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll learn new ways to conquer writer’s block, develop plots, and build nail-biting suspense that will thrill young readers.

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R.L. Stine

The Goosebumps author teaches you how to generate ideas, outline a plot, and hook young readers from the first page.

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