From R.L. Stine's MasterClass

How to Scare Your Readers

Learn to maximize "the scares" when writing for young audiences. Bob shares his method of tapping into your childhood fears, making ordinary locations scary, and using sensory details to set the scene.

Topics include: Tap Into Your Childhood Fears • Make Normal Locations Scary • Building Suspense • Use Sensory Details to Set the Scene • Scary Scene Case Study: It Came From Beneath the Sink!

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Learn to maximize "the scares" when writing for young audiences. Bob shares his method of tapping into your childhood fears, making ordinary locations scary, and using sensory details to set the scene.

Topics include: Tap Into Your Childhood Fears • Make Normal Locations Scary • Building Suspense • Use Sensory Details to Set the Scene • Scary Scene Case Study: It Came From Beneath the Sink!

R.L. Stine

Teaches Writing for Young Audiences

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Preview

I was a really fearful kid. I was afraid of a lot. I think that's why I stayed in my room typing all the time, because I really was-- it was a terrible way to grow up. I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid-- we had this freezer down in the basement. It was sort of shaped like this desk. It was shaped-- sort of coffin-shaped, a white enamel freezer that-- My parents kept meat in it and frozen candy bars and things. And my dad would say, Bob, go down and bring up some lamb chops. And we had a creepy basement. And I was-- it was the stairs creaked. It was-- you know, it was typical. It was a scary basement. And then I would go up to this freezer, and here was this white enamel-- this freezer. And the lid came up like this. And I knew-- I was always afraid I was going to lift up the lid, and there would be some body frozen, some sprawled corpse sprawled on top-- I just-- I could imagine, I could picture it, and lifted up the lid to get the thing. And you know I had a lot of fears like that. I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood and come back at night. And I was always sure something was lurking in the garage. There was something in there waiting. And I would take my bike and heave it into the garage and go running into the house. I was really afraid of things. But how lucky was that? Because then here I am writing scary books, right? And I can-- now, I can remember that feeling of panic, that feeling of being a kid and being afraid. And I can bring it back, I can remember it and try to put it into my books. So it turned out it was something lucky. [MUSIC PLAYING] Any place can become scary. When I first started doing the "Goosebumps" books and was thinking no one had ever done a scary book series for 7- to 12-year-olds. It had never been done. And I had to try to figure out what will be scary and what will work. What will they be able to identify with? And what will they be able to see when we create these stories? And of course, the impulse with horror is to set it in some dark castle in the middle of a forest in middle Europe. Like the werewolf movies, they're deep in some European forest, and these strange people are-- and I thought, kids just can't-- they can't identify with that. That's not part of their lives. You have to make it a location part of their lives, something that they can really see and know. And that's how I made the decision that most "Goosebumps" books would take place in the backyard. They take place at school. They would be in a neighborhood, and not in somewhere in middle Europe or like, you know, a Dracula's castle. We don't do that at all. You take these normal places that kids know. And then you have to make them scary. A kid is in school, and the teacher says, would you go down to the basement, please, and ask the custodian to come up in there. And the kid goes down, and he gets lost down in the basement of the school. And he's in some area he's never seen before. ...

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.

Reviews

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

Awesome MasterClass!! Mr. Stine gives you a lot of helpful tips for writing scary stories and for young audiences. The lessons are always exiting, and Mr. Stine strikes the perfect balance of information, motivation and fun. Absolutely recommended!!

I was just given a map showing a secret tunnel through the mountain. What's not to love!

Absolutely charming class, I found myself laughing out loud many times to R.L. Stine's sense of humor. What a great class on writing with joy!

This was s very encouraging class. Bob provided every question to answer, every aspect to consider. He gave away specific ideas, character profiles, know how. Who could ask for anything more?

Comments

Donna S.

Funny, now, hearing him talk about being afraid to go down to the basement. I remember being afraid to go into my grandma's basement. It didn't have creepy noises or anything, but still, I didn't like it. I also like how he talks about being scared as he rode his bike around the neighborhood. There were some streets in our neighborhood that we heard were haunted and as a little kid, I was afraid to go down those streets by myself.

Dennis R.

Listening to Mr. Stine's lessons is like like I'm sitting in my living room with a best friend just talking about life. I thoroughly enjoyed this lesson and will dig deep into my past to look at things that put my on edge or scared the pants off of me. (My sisters)

Pamela E.

I am thoroughly enjoying this class but I have not been able to find a basic guide for grade specific vocabulary. Mr. Stine mentions he worked for Scholastic and there were lists of vocabulary for various grades but are "Common Core" vocabulary lists for each grade the same thing? I am a journalist/wordsmith who has always had a large, varied vocabulary so I sometimes find myself using words and terms that not everyone knows.

Rachel M.

Problem is not every kid grows up in American suburbia. I actually grew up in Middle Europe. Maybe not in the creepy Dracula castle (though I've seen it), but I grew up with that kind of setting. Third-culture kids or kids with multiple ethnic backgrounds are hardly ever written about, which is why I like to incorporate that sort of thing whenever I can.

Ananth P.

Feels like this lectures goes back on what he said in the first one about writing from your heart. Well, it is true that you shouldn't write 'He panicked', but show it somehow. That's simple 'show, don't tell'. And it cannot just come from the heart. It just cannot. A writer can feel what his characters feel, but to put that feeling in words, he has to think, not just feel. Writing from the brain as well as from the heart, are important to do. I do not agree with the first opening lecture. RL Stine has disproved his own opening lecture in quite a few of the lessons after the first one.

Angelina D.

I love the specific examples Mr. Stine gives in his lessons. They give me clear direction and guidance. I feel ready to go back to my MS and make changes; including changing POV to the first person to see how it reads.

Tina K.

I'm really glad I signed up for this class. I enjoy listening to Mr. Stine on the masterclass app as I go about other things. He communicates his point with enthusiasm and a zest for writing. He is witty and funny in a way that is innocent, vulnerable and relatable. Hearing him speak first and then reading the Goosebumps book, Deep Trouble, I can hear him telling the story in my head. It was actually a page-turner!

Clara S.

Oh, sorry trigger finger didn't finish my short sentence. I was saying . . . The good thing that came about all these books in my library is that I realize I’m still in the learning process . . . . I hope I used the ‘Show and not Tell’ in this example. Lol.

Clara S.

The hardest thing for me writing suspense is to show and not tell. In my last course in writing, I’ve been told to “Show and NOT Tell your Story” so, I went in search of every book that would help me get my words on paper expressing every feeling I thought I needed to convey. I went to the site Writersdigest.com and packed a good library of books to help me with the “Show and Not tell.” Books from the Thesaurus of Negative Traits, The Positive, Emotions, Telling Details, the list goes on and on. The good thing that came about all these "this example. Lol. What scares me to this day at my age? Movies, books that describe tall people under capes, hooded monks in monasteries, men wearing fedoras and capes (French movies loves them to scare the pants off people--killers lol.)

David S.

Great lesson! I am currently working on converting a short script I wrote last year into a short story and this helped. It's called Night Lasers and it's about two young friends who engage in a tense game of laser tag against a pack of raptor-like creatures.