Have Fun With Your First Draft

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 8:48 min

Bob takes you through his steps for writing a first draft and reminds you to enjoy the 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.
Get All-Access


Go ahead and enjoy what you're doing. Enjoy creating your characters, and enjoy making them say all kinds of things. And go through with your first draft, and have fun with it. Think of it as fun. Think of it. You're creating this thing. You're doing this. It's not hard. It isn't hard work. It's not a struggle. And maybe, there are scenes already you don't like. You go back the next morning, and you read what you wrote yesterday, and you don't like it. Keep going. Keep going. As an aspiring writer, you might feel more comfortable starting with something that's short. You might feel more comfortable sitting down, planning something that's only 20 or 25 pages long. And if you feel more comfortable doing it, I would say do that. Do that. If you feel that starting out, it's too ambitious for you to plan a 200, 300 page novel, to work out what that would be, story is a microcosm of the novel, and just try something nice and short. Well, here's the interesting thing about short stories and novels, and writing both. I find, and maybe you will too, that writing short stories is harder. Because you have so little space, and when you write a short story, what you need, you need one really good solid idea. You need something really strong. And one really powerful thing to put into this story, to drive the story. When you write a novel, you can have a bunch of ideas, you know where you're going, you know what you want to talk about, but you've got 300 pages, 400 pages. It's so luxurious. When I write a short story, I'm like, I've got to be so concise. I've got to set it up so quickly. I have to figure out who are these characters. I got to get that characterization done. I've got to get to the problem right away, and then, I have to have a really good ending. So in that way, I think stories are harder. After the outline is approved, I'm ready to go. I sit down. I start chapter one. I write always totally in order. I'm the kind of writer that I have to, maybe you'll be like this too, I have to write right from the beginning. I have to write every word in order. I can't skip around. When we were first starting out, my wife and I collaborated on some kids books, and we did a book called, The Sick of Being Sick Book, and a couple other books and it didn't end well. Because Jane, she would write some of the middle, and then go back, and write the beginning. And I couldn't do it. We just couldn't work. I have to go entirely in order. And the collaboration actually ended up with her locking me in the closet and leaving the apartment. And, no. This is true. I probably shouldn't tell this story. But she locked me in, and just left the apartment. And we realized, we probably shouldn't be doing books together. She got me out about half an hour later. And so then, that was it. That was the last book we ever wrote together. Sometimes I'll be 2/3 of the way through the book, and I'll think, well, it would great to put in a talking cat here, or ...

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.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning from Mr. Stine. His candid style was authentic, entertaining and informative. He made everything seem so simple that I am inspired to try. Thanks for sharing your knowledge R. L. Stone.

One of the best Masterclasses yet, I've learned countless techniques, tricks to incorporate in not only my writing but entire creative process. My passion for writing is bursting in stardrive!

Very helpful. It taught me to be more aware of what I'm writing and my audience. I realize that there is much more to consider than character names.

I feel so fortunate to have been able to take this master class! I will take what R.L. Stine taught and use it towards writing. I love everything he shared the personal stories, advice, writing tips and will remember them and just have fun writing and will in turn try to create something fun and entertaining!



I loved this one - the satisfaction of finishing! Just the encouragement I needed to hear, and you said it all so well.

Iddo G.

Such a comforting episode, helps me to take out the fear of writing, and not getting the "right" creation, that stupid perfect masterpiece, or meaningful idea. Just write and enjoy and things are in it already, and then I can edit it a bit. THANK YOU Ill be serious later :))

Amanda G.

I also can’t relate to not writing the book in order. Every word in order for sure! But, I can relate to locking my husband in the closet so I’m on both your sides on this!

Katherine T.

I laughed out loud so many times through this lesson. Bob you’re delightful!

Paul A.

If you're reading this thank you Mr. Stine for a great class. Personally I never rush through a first draft. I've done it once before and it's just writing a lot of dumb unnecessary stuff faster. I frustratingly plan and then slowly write my first draft. For me at least, this prevents the "fog of confusion and teeth-grinding headaches" associated with writing a multitude of drafts. In carpentry it's "measure twice, cut once". I figure from my upbringing I've taken the same approach to writing. Ironically a book is a block of wood, so there you go.

Fülöp B.

This is great. Somehow I've always thought of the first draft as something horribly hard (you have to struggle to find out where the story is going, and than wrestle with the characters to get them actually going there), and "it is going to suck but you still have to do it", so hearing an author I consider to have been a mandatory part of my childhood telling me that it is fun and I should just enjoy it is VERY motivating. Also, right at the beginning, he managed to convince me of the importance of a proper outline. I am not at the point where I would dare to start a novel yet, but without an outline, I'd probably never get there ever. So it was already worth starting this Masterclass just for these two things.

Jacob R.

In my early childhood books, I wrote my stories in 12-point Courier on an old Brother word processor. It was so difficult to get enough text to fill one page of 50 lines that was 8.5 x 11 inches; I often found it very discouraging. By contrast, even though Stine's pages in Goosebumps were much smaller, there was still a lot of substance that could fill six to ten pages at a time. I was envious. And he could fill upwards of 100 pages when I had trouble just getting to 30. As I grew, I found it easier to develop more content, but I still had a lot of trouble filling pages that were 8.5 x 11 inches. It wasn't until much later when I finally upgraded some of my tech that I could turn the 8.5 x 11 sheets sideways and write on them as if they were two pages to a side instead of one. I soon ended up writing a story that spanned upwards of 200 pages using such a system in my high school years, and I found that to be very gratifying. As an adult, I understand that quality is more important than quantity, but I still like the idea of having a length goal. Knowing that I will be writing for a much younger audience in my next project, I might have to hold back on some details that I would otherwise splurge on, but I want to have a story with substance that could take a child at least a couple days to get through and feel satisfied at the end.


I have a boy who is 11 years old. He always has a problem finding his own items in his own room. Sometimes even the item is right in front of him, he cannot see it. Is this an abnormal phenomenon? Is it possible that a ghost was standing in front of him and was blocking his vision? How can I elaborate more on this and write a horror story about it?


I wish someone had told me this when I first started writing for publication. The first book I started is yet to be completed. I got stuck in the first three chapters just re-writing them over and over and ... well, you get the idea. I got so bored and burned out with it, that I just couldn't keep going. It will one day be written. I'm getting closer to being ready to get back to it. Once I learned to turn off the internal editor while I wrote, I managed to complete projects. And, then go back and fix them. I don't typically do well with descriptive writing, so I write action and dialogue and leave the second pass for adding in all the senses I left out. Then I do a third pass fixing things that need it before it goes to an editor. That's the process I found works best for me. I'm glad Mr. Stine is sharing his wisdom with others who may just be starting out. Hopefully it will save them the time I lost in figuring it out on my own.

Coe F.

I actually appreciated the bit about the closet. Made me feel it's not just me who cannot collaborate on something this personal. Thank you for the advice and for the laughs! :)