Writing, 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.

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

Topics include: Set Up the Action Immediately • Open Case Study: I Am Slappy’s Evil Twin


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'...

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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