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Arts & Entertainment

Kids Are the Best Audience

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 10:04 min

Making your books fun and easy to read is the key to hooking young readers. Learn Bob’s strategies for understanding young audiences.

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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.
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Preview

I love the idea that people can turn to books for-- just for entertainment and nothing else. And so I have-- in "Goosebumps" or "Fear Street," there's nothing you can learn. There's no moral lesson. People always say, what are the morals that you're teaching? What are the-- there aren't any. There are none. The main moral lesson is run. Run as fast as you can. That's it, because I just-- I don't want that. You know, adults have the right-- they give themselves the right to read all kinds of trash, right? And adults can read entertaining magazines. But somehow, they think when it comes to kids reading, that the kids have to be elevated by what they read. There was always a rule in children's publishing that the characters in a children's book have to learn and grow. And I just rejected that idea. And I thought, if adults can read something just for fun with nothing else-- no socially redeeming value whatsoever-- kids-- kids have the same right. And you're competing now. If you're writing books for kids, you're competing with so many other things-- with, you know, tablets, and phones, and video games. And there's such competition. You've got to really work to get kids to read now. And you've got to create something that they'll think, oh, this is just as much fun as watching something. People always say, why do you write these scary books, if I'm in a crowd, speaking or something. And I always say, well, I just like to scare kids. But that's not really what the books are about. They're about getting kids to read. Believe me. There's nothing more satisfying to me than these parents who come up to me all the time and say, my son never read a book before. Last night, I caught him in the middle of the night under the covers reading one of your books with a flashlight. I never get tired of stories like that. And wherever I go, I get these stories of, my kid learned to read on your books. Or my kid learned to like books from-- from yours. And that's the whole point of it. It's not-- I don't really want to terrify kids. Some of you may be thinking of writing for kids. You might be starting to think about your audience. You know, generally, there's middle grade, which is generally 7 to 11, maybe 7 to 12. I lose readers at 12. They move on to other authors. And then there's young adult, which is very popular now. The YA books are generally read-- maybe kids starting at 11 or 12 and then up to 15. And the interesting thing about young adult in these days is that 40% of the young adult novels are read by adult women. Adults read them. So that's something to really keep in mind if you're going to write teen books-- that there's a giant adult readership now, which is-- didn't used to happen in the past. You know, I write for both. And I-- you have to kind of know what age. You have to start with the age of the characters. And if you write-- kids like to read about kids who are a little bit older than them, and so-- no...


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.

You have a new fan for life in me, Mr. Stine! Thank you for your humour, your wisdom and your generosity.

Great, simple tips on writing for kids, and writing in general. I really enjoyed Bob, and I loved the music at the start of each section. Would love to know what the piece is - or the composer. Thanks!

I've become more familiar with the key components of writing by looking into the world of writing for YA and Middle Grade.

I loved this course and especially stine's wierd sense of humour :) The course was interesting and inspiring.


Comments

A fellow student

i'm now a fan of R.L. Stine himself! this class really surpassed my expectations so far.

Elizabeth P.

Actually this is just making me think about the weird restrictions I was placed in for reading. All the times I got in trouble for getting a goosebumps book out from the school library because my parents thought my imagination would run too rampant. I suppose that can be a memory to draw an idea from.

Aurelie G.

This is so interesting. As a french professional young adult and kid writer, I can say that all the topics M. Stine raise are discussed a lot among our community... Should kids learn something from a book ? Should you use teenager contemporary slang or talk about the famous popstars of the moment ? Not all authors have the same opinion on the subject. I for instance, don t mind if one of my book ages because I want it to be really realistic for my audience for the two or three years following the publication. For instance who knows if Instagram or Snapchat will still exist in five years ? Maybe it won t. Would a book staring a teenager be realistic whitout some social media in it ? Certainly not... Except of course if you re writing fantasy or post apocaliptic stories of course. Still I love debating about it and it's so fascinating hearing M. Stine opinion. Did I mention I was a great Goosebump fan as a kid ? The name of the serie in french was Chair de Poule. I share M. Stine opinion about how kids make a terrific audience. They are enthousiastic, and fun ! However I must admit I have a soft spot for teenagers. They are not the easiest audience of course : the are shy, and are dying to be accepted by their peers, and most of them aren't into books at all... but I like all the trembling little adults I can see under the armor. It is funny how every kidlit author has a favorite age range. Some can only write for a specific age range, other write for several.

jennifer

I love the advice that there does not have to be a moral. I would read Little Women and Little House on the Prairie books when I was young and those books are infused with morals. It is nice to know that there doesn't have to be a deeper lesson when writing for this age group.

Gary V.

Yes! Love writing for this same age group for all the same reasons! They could care less about a NY Times Bestseller - don't even know what that is. There is no fooling these kids. You really have to earn the minutes they spend with your work.

Wesley B.

"I get them the last time in their lives they'll ever be enthusiastic." Wow. That hit me so hard it made me tear and I had to pause for a bit. There's a bittersweet wisdom in that.

Omar D.

LMAO those letters were awesome! Btw. Mr. R.L if you are reading this the kid that says he has to be "escorted by his parents to the bathroom" is because he is scared, your books made him scared so he can't go to the bathroom by himself anymore! Gold!

Amanda G.

Oh my gosh I laughed so hard at the fan letters. With regard to the “you are my second favorite author” letter... As a teacher, I received lots of love letters from students as well, some sweet and sincere, some real true head scratchers... I had this really odd quirky girl once provide me SO PROUDLY with a letter which she insisted that I read in front of her. It said, “Dear Mrs. Gatton, You are my third favorite teacher. Love Haley” Now, I looked at this girl for a minute thinking this was some sort of goofy put on. But no, she gazed upon me with absolute adoration and I could tell she felt she had just present me with the utmost praise. So, I guess, in the fifth grade set, that’s a real compliment! Lolol

Patsy M.

I like it. I was afraid of outlines because to me that meant format with roman numerals and all kinds of confusion over how to make the outline, not what the outline said. This is so much better; simply, then, and then, and then; with details. It does seem frustrating, but I'm willing to try.

Maggie J.

This lesson was fun. I remember when my son was reading Goosebumps and they were fun also. Bravo!