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Arts & Entertainment

Have Fun With Your First Draft

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 08:47 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.


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 love the way R.L Stine prsenets his class, he is funny and his language is clear. I expect the best from the coming lessons, thumps up for Mr Bob

I loved the fast paced dialogue and the great tips along the way...brilliant!!

Great class! I learned a lot, and it was fun.

I am enjoying the class and cant wait for the next lesson.


A fellow student

LEARN MORE • Download and review the two outlines Bob provided, the one which was accepted, and the one which was not. What differences do you notice? Take the strengths and weakness of each into account as you create your outline. Does anyone know where to download these two outlines? Thanks in advance!

A fellow student

Most authors keep saying writing is hard, and I know it can get hard, but R.L. Stine saying that it's not hard and it's fun and just to keep going no matter what is so uplifting i'm going to cry... this is why i want to write, because it's fun...

A fellow student

More of a broad idea that I loved about this lesson is that it familiarizes new writers with a structure of revising. I have wanted to understand the best ways to revise and get opinions so that I can mold my book into its best form. I definitely feel more comfortable diving in and having fun with it now. Thanks so much for this!


So important to get lost in your work and enjoy it. If it's a chore all the way through, something is wrong. On the page you call the shots. That's the beauty of it. It's your creation, so think big and roll with it. Good advice to master creators. Thank you, R.L. Stine. I'm really enjoying your class.

JC .

"Completing your first draft shows that you can do it." Most inspiring sentence I've ever read.


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.