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Arts & Entertainment

Hook Readers Right Away

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 5:10 min

Bob teaches you how to write an effective hook that swiftly captivates young readers.

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.


In the first chapter of a book for kids, they have to know-- the first chapter has to tell them what's happening, what the book is. It pretty much has to tell them what they're going to expect. It has to establish an awful lot. And kids know right from the start that it's something they're gonna want to read. That it's something-- it's characters that they like right away and something bad has happened right away. And first page, first two pages, they can see what's going to develop, what the problem is gonna be, what's going to happen, right away. We get the kids in, get them described, and then get into the action and get it going. Chapter 1 ends in some kind of shock, some kind of cliffhanger-- no time for background, nothing interfering with the action, and keeping the plot going. And that's one of the tricks. [MUSIC PLAYING] I thought I would read a section of "I Am Slappy's Evil Twin." There's a prologue, and then this is the first chapter. And I'm reading it because I think it's a really good example of what you want to do in the first chapter. You want to meet the kids. You want to kind of find out what they're like a little bit. And then you want to know what's going to happen right away. And this chapter pretty much does that. "Hey, guys, I'm Luke Harrison. I'm the red-headed kid poking around in the tool chest in the garage, trying to figure out what a Phillips screwdriver looks like. Yes, I'm twelve--" as are all Goosebumps kids-- "I probably should know more about tools by now. But I'm not the mechanical type. I mean, the most complicated thing I ever built was a snowman! That's a joke. Actually, I've never built anything in my life-- until we decided to build this drone for a school contest." So there, now you've met Luke. He's the main character. And you pretty much-- you know quite a bit about him just in the first two paragraphs. "'Hurry up, Luke. I can't hold this forever.' That's my sister, Kelly, across the garage. She's holding two pieces of the frame together. Kelly isn't much help, either. Well, she's good at holding things. And she's good at telling us what we're doing wrong. So I guess that's helpful." Now we know Kelly. "Luckily, our friend Jamal is a mechanical genius. No, seriously, he's a genius at this stuff. He was one of those kids who built an entire city as big as his living room out of LEGOs when he was still in diapers. Jamal bought the 'Make-Your-Own-Drone' kit we're using. And when he spread all the pieces out in our garage, he didn't like the instructions. So he threw them out. He said he could do it better, and we believed him. The drone had four motors. We had special batteries for the motors. And then a small propane tank for the back of the frame. I guess for liftoff. Kelly and Jamal began to assemble another side of the frame. The afternoon sun slid behind some trees, and shadows swept over the garage. I stepped to the back wall and clicked on the garage lights. 'Don'...

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 think Bob's user-friendly style has helped to alleviate the fear of writing which I'm sure a lot of other people feel too. Ironic that his raw material is fear itself.

Wonderful! This class was well worth the price of admission. Mr. Stine was a wonderful teacher and helped open up the whole process of writing for young adults. I already have three ideas in the works and I have used Mr. Stine's methods and tips. I have already recommended those course to several friends. Thank Mr. Stine for a wonderful lesson. DC Roffe

I enjoyed this class immensely. I'm not really a horror fan, but Goosebumps is what started my son reading and I read everything my children read growing up. I found Bob's outlook on writing eye-opening. I do write (for myself) and will implement some of his techniques, some I already do but not in the same way. Great class!

R.L. Stone was wonderful. He made me want to stop what I was doing and just write. Very inspiring and I learned a tremendous amount about the writing process. Not just one way is key, find what works for you.


Jacob R.

I remember how difficult it was to get into Goosebumps #1 (Welcome to Dead House) because the first chapter was ten pages long. As a seven-year-old, that made it difficult to want to push on, but the engineer in me wanted to read this book first because I wanted to read all of the Goosebumps books in order. After the first chapter, the book got easier to read, and it was easier to make progress. Thankfully, later Goosebumps books had much shorter first chapters, and established the scene much faster. Hopefully in my project, I am able to produce that kind of hook immediately.

Miles T.

I sometimes start my story with an action scene to hook the readers, but they have to get to know my characters very quickly in order to care about them.


I have to admit the storylines and writing style is not my preferred. However, RL Stein is an amazing teacher! I have learned so much where others instructors have felt rather scattered and less directional. Solid insight. You don't have to be a middle-grade writer​ or horror writer to glean information from this instruction.

David S.

Dragon Hunt By: David Serra Logline: A young boy and his friends discover a fossilized dragon bone in the park and try to find its hoard.

Neil G.

I wrote out my first chapter, based on the outline I made for the class. I think I need to make it a bit more active, since all that happens is the protagonist being introduced to the secondary character who will be important down the line. There's no action outside of talking, which concerns me, though I do have a few cryptic hints thrown in about the setting (mainly about an old cemetery). I'll have to fix that in revisions, or possibly add a different first chapter and move things around a bit.

Ryan L.

My book's first chapter is pretty low key, with the main character meeting another boy named John on the first day of school and becoming friends, then just showing them hanging out the rest of the day and hopefully endearing themselves enough to the reader by the time they hit the final line: "The next day, John disappeared."


I Love how smart he is, everything he says makes a light bulb go off in my head. : )

Kenneth Wayne W.

R.L., even in your instruction, you keep things simple and moving with solid meaty wisdom. I'm getting so much out of these sessions. Thanks.

Phil H.

"If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." And you have very few lines to hook a reader. Don't waste them by setting something up. You can explain it in the plot later if needed.

Sherry T.

Introduce the characters, motivation and the challenge in the first chapter of any genre hooks the reader if written well. I enjoy his examples from his stories which are right on target as rubrics for the basic foundation lessons he is teaching.