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Arts & Entertainment

Exercises to Get You Going

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 4:52 min

Experiment with writing exercises you can utilize to jump-start your process.

R.L. Stine
Teaches Writing for Young Audiences
The Goosebumps author teaches you how to generate ideas, outline a plot, and hook young readers from the first page.


After taking my master class, I hope you'll be better prepared and ready to go, ready to write a short story or a novel. I came up with some exercises maybe to help get you going. They're in the workbook, you can check them out any time. The first one, of course, is write down three times you remember feeling truly, truly scared. Just make a list. Think back. Try to remember something that was scary. Make a list of those kind of things and see what you can write. Also, I talked a lot about titles. Make a list of funny horror titles or book titles, titles that you would be-- think you would be interested in reading. Make a list. Write down two titles, three titles. See how you do with titles. It says, spend an hour in an average place with lots of people. Just go to the park or a grocery store. Just watch them. Write down whatever sparks your imagination. Just watch people. Get in the habit of observing people and then see where your thoughts lead. See what directions you can think just watching in a normal situation. Try out developing a plot. Take an idea of your own or try using one of the horror story plots that I gave you, that's in the workbook. Develop it until you have an idea of your basic plot. Start with just a couple of scenes. Build from there. Then, if you love the idea, take it further. See how far this idea will take you. Play around with point of view, and this is a useful exercise and it's something sometimes I do. Maybe sometimes I'll start a book third person and say, well, I can make this much better first person, and I'll go back and write the chapter and do it. Or you try-- write something third person, write the same scene first person. See what happens. See if it helps you out. Prose style. Choose an author you like. Write a scene totally mimicking that author's style. I think I talked about when I was a kid, there were-- I mimicked author's styles all the time-- to this day. Take some author that you really like and see if you can write in that author's style. It really does help. It's not just copying. Take a scene you've already written or write one based on those 20 ideas on my list, then revise the scene. Force yourself to make it all dialogue. See if you can tell the whole scene just in dialogue. I think that's a really good exercise, and really good for helping you figure out how to tell a story in dialogue and not have to slow the book down with a whole lot of description. Write a scary scene. Take one of my 20 horror ideas and write a scary scene. Make sure to slow it down. Slow it-- write it slowly, so that the reader gets every bit of fear, every tingle, every bit of fright in the character. Make sure you write it very slowly. Don't skip over anything. Don't forget to think about all the senses. What is the character seeing? Smelling? What does a-- what does she hear? What sounds are in the background? Try to include all of that. All of it adds up to make a scene really scary. Try mak...

Take the fear out of writing

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.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

R.L Stine is one of my favorite authors, and I am glad to checkout his videos.

RL Stine is a great teacher, story teller and fun to listen to. I've never taken a writing course, or thought about what's really involved in becoming a writer, but he made me feel like anything's possible with a little courage and creativity...and humor!

This was fantastic and insightful. There is so much I will take with me. I feel that I will watch this one again soon. Thank you, R.L. Stine! I'll see you around Twitter :)

R.L. Stine is an inspiring teacher. I was sad to reach the end of the Master Class, and will be referring to it often. He gave great advice on writing and what works best for him. I feel excited to apply the principles and techniques he shared.


Keven P.

I'll share some of my Title ideas and what inspired them: 1) Welcome to Nilbog - Inspired by a place in Dungeons and Dragons as well as the film Troll 2. Nilbog spelled backwards is Goblin. 2) Klowns-R-Us - Inspired by the film "Killer Klowns from Outer Space". 3) It Came from My Locker - Inspired by It Came from Beneath the Sink and Stine's idea of an object being a monster (dirty old gym sock). 4) Spiders of the Corn - Inspired by the film title "Children of the Corn". 5) Pavor - Spanish for dread, terror, and/or horror. The character Pavor was inspired by the life size mannequin character from the 12995 film "The Fear". Though my vision isn't a doll or toy, but a creature.

Betty M.

I have not made any comments during this course. Writing scary stories was not something I thought I could do. Nonetheless, I have ENJOYED every class lesson!!!!! I have learned quite a bit of information and tips that I believe I can use when writing middle grade scary stories and adult fiction. When I say I have LEARNED a lot.......I HAVE INDEED!!!!! THANK YOU MR. STINE!!!!!

Shayne O.

Great advice about the character list before he even begins work on the story and doing an outline also. Again all about preparation. Or as they say before starting a painting and decorating project...Preparation Preparation Preparation. James Patterson covers this well also.

Meg N.

I have a confession: I haven't every written fiction. I've read fiction, of course, everything from Butt Wars and Artemis Fowl to acclaimed literary works like "The Cleft". But when it comes to writing, I've always stuck to non-fiction, and in my translation work (day job...) I stick to commercial translation, from legal to ad company presentations.. But this course, THIS course, may get me started. It makes it seem possible. Thank you!

A fellow student

Today, I was at my local library walking down the stairs and there was a group of teens walking behind me. I overheard them talking about how they were all scared and creeped out by the elevator in the library and how they always took the stairs. It instantly made me think of the advice I've seen here in this class. I'm excited to flush it out a bit.

Tina K.

Noooooo, I don't want this to end. Mr. Stine is matter-of-fact in his delivery about writing, and I adore how he talks about writing as if it's already happened! When you finish your first draft and when you re-write your outline, and so on. It's very positive! Thank you! I'm a better writer for just taking this course. I'll be even better when I complete the workbook exercises, and I will!

Rob G.

What a lovely way to round off this Masterclass. R.L.Stine is such a warm and generous teacher. I'm really grateful for all the advice I've got here. Thank you so much.

Steven L.

All Dialog! Wow. I already did this one a couple of years ago... I wanted to see if I could so it. Here are the first few minutes... I would love some feedback. ============================== The Replacement "What the hell! Where am I! Who's there? Show yourself! I know you’re there, I can hear you breathing. Come out of the shadows dammit and untie me.” "Is that better?" "Where am I?" "Remember this place, Brad? Your old Alma Mater? You and your football buddies made fun of a little scrawny kid right here in this very shower. Stuffed him in the locker and threw his clothes out in the hall. Remember?" "Show yourself. Step into the light." "Better?" "No. What’s with the Bill Clinton mask? Untie me from this chair and we can forget about this whole thing. I have money." "Forget? How can I forget? It's clear that you are the one who has forgotten. How can you not remember? You tortured me all through junior-high and high school" "I don't know you. I don't remember. What do you want? I didn’t torture anyone. What do you want?” "Forgive my laughter, but, What do I want? You want to know what I want? Well, my good man, I want everything." "Take off your mask. Who are you?" "Mind if I sit down and rest my legs a bit? My legs are sore from the workout I had this morning. Oh, yeah, that's the stuff. I’ve spent over a decade going from that scrawny little kid to buff, dreaming of this very day.” “I’m sorry if I was mean to you, but who are you?” “Mean!? You’re sorry you were mean to me? Oh, I feel so much better now. Mean doesn't begin to define your actions. You sent Lisa Abernathy to me in the lunchroom on Friday to tell me that she wanted me to take her to the prom. And then, that night when I knocked on her door, you all dumped cow crap on me from the roof. Mean, Brad? Would you call dropping a cow crap bomb on someone being mean? If so, then you may characterize what I have planned for you only as a little uncomfortable. I will be right back.” “Where are you going? Don’t just leave me here. Untie me dammit!”

Steven L.

Okay.... truly...truly...truly scared! This one time, at band camp.... Sorry I just had to go there...... #1 I was camping with a buddy of mine and we were waiting on the third guy to show up. We set up our hammocks and hd a fire going... I will call him Jack. Jack got the call they Brian was lost. So, Jack left the campsite and as soon as the roar of engine silenced, an eri presence fell over the campsite. We were only a couple of miles away from a store and the formal campground so people were fairly close, but when the fog rolled in, I got so scared. In my deepest heart of hearts I knew it was nothing, but a "feeling fell from nowhere and the fog rolled in and it got darker. I stoked the fire and added wood and walked around the fire and talked to myself aloud. No I was not child at the time. I was in my 40's. I can't explain it... as so scared.... My writer's imagination turned the table on me that night out in the middle of the woods. #2 When I was 13, I got caught shoplifting at K-Mart... I eventually talked my way out of it because they had no proof and offered to pay for the gum again, but I was so scared. I just knew my parents would kill me... #3 Swimming in the river. Found a deep hole around a bed. Dove down into the hole and dove deeper and deeper and deeper. It got colder and colder and darker... I lost my air coming up because I couldn't hold it any longer and I almost didn't make it back to the surface. When I finally did break through, I gasped and gasped. My cousin at the time thought I was drowning. But nothing holds a candle to the camping incident... It was only a few years ago.

Alonna S.

People watching triggers the imagination for a plot. Play around with POV. (What about a conflict trigger?) Use all of the senses. Lots of wonderful suggestions! Thank you.