Writing, Arts & Entertainment

Mixing Horror and Humor

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 10:48 min

Horror and humor go hand in hand. Bob explains why humor is harder to write than horror and how to use humor to create breaks between scary scenes.

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Topics include: Strike the Right Balance • Mixing Horror and Humor Case Study: Young Scrooge


It's hard to talk about what is funny, and what makes you laugh. We all have-- this is why I think humor writing is much harder. It's much harder to write funny stuff, than it is to write horror because we're all afraid of the same things. We all have the same fears. We're all afraid of the dark. And we're all afraid of being lost in the woods. We're all the same, when it comes to horror. But we don't all laugh at the same things. We all have different senses of humor. I laugh at stupidity humor. When people are really-- like "Dumb and Dumber." That movie-- I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. From the time I was little, I always liked funny stuff. I loved cartoons when I was little. And comedians, and all kinds of comedy shows, and comedy films. I was just drawn to it, and so when I started writing, that's what I wanted to write. And I wrote humor, for years. I wrote, maybe, 100 joke books for kids. My first book was called, "How to be Funny." When it came time to writing scary stuff and changing gears, I knew that I'd have to carry over what I love and carry over the humor into the horror. And it's proven very effective because you know, I don't really want to terrify kids. It's not really why I write "Goosebumps." We write to entertain them and maybe, give them little creepy stories. So I use a lot of humor it in those books, to keep them from getting too scary. Now I have to say, there's something wrong with me. There's something strange about my brain in that horror doesn't scare me. When you go into the movie theater and you're seeing the shark comes up and eats a kid and is chewing the kid, and there's blood splattered. I'm the one in the theater who's laughing. Horror makes me laugh. And I've never had that feeling-- people come to me and they, say, when I read your book, I had to lock all my doors. And I left my lights on the whole night. I've never had that feeling. I don't know what that's like to read a book or a movie and be scared. It always makes me laugh. And I think, it's the same visceral reaction-- when you come up behind somebody-- a baby or even, a grownup-- and you go, boo, the person always gasps and then, laughs. It's so closely connected. When you go to an amusement park and you walk up to the roller coaster, what do you hear? You hear people screaming and laughing, at the same time. What if you got on a roller coaster and it went up, up, up, up, and then, it came down and then, it came down again, and then, it came down again. And then, it went upside down, again. And then, it came down, and there was no pause in between. I don't think it would be very much fun. I think it would be one, exhausting, and two, just too terrifying. And that's why roller coasters are built. You go up, you come all the way down. You're screaming. And then, there's like a pause, there's like a nice part and you're lulled into thinking you're safe. And then, it happens again. And then,...

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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