Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Other Rich Sources of Ideas

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 08:27 min

There are so many ways to find inspiration for your story. Here, Bob points to some that might surprise you—television and movies, titles, and topics.

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Topics include: Get Ideas From Movies and Television • Develop an Idea From a Catchy Title • Use a Topic as Your Starting Point • You Only Need One Good Idea


If you want to write and you want to get ideas, you have to use everything. You have to be alert and open to everything-- everything you read, everything you listen to, everything. You have to allow these things to inspire you. When I was a kid, some of the early TV shows have inspired my writing a lot. And of course, all those 1950s horror films are, you know, you can recognize them in Goosebumps. When we were kids, my brother and I used to go see a horror movie every Saturday afternoon. They had Tom and Jerry cartoons and then a horror movie every Saturday. And we saw all the films-- The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Walks Among Us, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, It Came from Beneath the Sea-- all these great titles. And I think you can recognize some of them as Goosebumps titles, because most Goosebumps titles, they're sort of like '50s horror movies. But, you know, I remember these films from my childhood. I remember them. And then you can, like, borrow the germ of an idea from it, and you can take it and adapt it in your own way. I was a huge Twilight Zone fan. Rod Serling is a big, big hero of mine. And I know a lot of Goosebumps stories have come from, you know-- without even intending it-- have come from my memory of Twilight Zone episodes that I watched back in the day. And this is a great way for-- a very important way, I think-- to get inspiration, just from all the things that you read and the things you love. [SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC] A good title is a real attention grabber that doesn't give anything away. Doesn't really tell you anything. It just, it establishes a little bit about the book. I did a Fear Street book called Give Me a K-I-L-L. So you know it's a cheerleader book, and you know someone's going to die, but that's it. It's an attention getter. That's all. It tells you a little bit of the premise, a little bit about what you're going to get, but it doesn't really tell you anything. I have to admit that I, you know, I've written so many books now that I don't really try to think of ideas anymore. I never try to think of ideas. I only think of titles. I had this great title that I loved. It was Little Shop of Hamsters. It's a great title, right? But, you know, then I'm thinking, how do you make hamsters scary? That's the challenge. And so I'm thinking, well, what if there's a giant hamster? Or what if there are 1,000 hamsters? And what if a boy is trapped in a place, someplace with 1,000 hamsters or something? But all my books now come from titles. I just think of the title and then work out the story from there. I know that's backward for most authors. Most authors get an idea for a story. They start to write. Later on, they think of the title. But I always had the title first, always start with the title, and it leads me to another story. There's a book I want to write that they won't let me write called Morons from Mars. I love that title. And I submitted it to my ed...

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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