Other Rich Sources of Ideas

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 8:27 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.

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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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...

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.


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

It was entertaining all the way through. R. L Stine is brilliant, with all the years of experience he has. I have learned more than I could expect from this course.

I learned to free my heart when it's about to write. Not every story has to teach you something meaningful; entertaining it's also a significant contribution to the world. As writers, we can have fun while writing just to awake the imagination of our readers.

Mr. Stine has a wonderful, warm teaching style. He gave some great advice on outlines, which was the reason I signed up for the course. The lesson on POV was fascinating and his reading selection demonstrated his point well. I teach reading, and I'm looking forward to telling the students where some of his ideas came from.

It was a good course. Things were explained well and kept simple, but there were some jewels in this lesson. It was easy to follow and understand. There was some drag in some parts, but overall it was good, and worth the time.


Gabe S.

I just thought of a horror idea from watching this video. "An aspiring writer is stuck watching an endless stream of Master Class videos and never being able to write a single page."

Margaret M.

Good lesson! I also checked out the Goosebumps titles page from the class workbook. That page also contains a link to Rainy Day Theater--short audio stories you can listen to for free. Fun!

A fellow student

My whole entire idea of my new book, FANGZ came from the multi-million player platform ROBLOX. The author who originally inspired me to start writing is Derek Landy, the author of the Skulduggery Pleasant series.

Jerry R.

I very often create the title first, but I usually have a general idea, like a genre, a general plot, or a character.


I have always come up with ideas from building a character or a topic, I found it pretty hard to stop and create some titles that I thought would catch a kid's attention. It was never something I thought about.

Noah P.

I love the "You only need one idea" line. That is perfect. I always get caught up in thinking ahead about the next book, the next story, the next idea, and I realize now that it completely takes away from my writing I'm currently working on.

Mark O.

I've always been a huge fan of stories whether that be books, films, tv, podcasts etc. You can be inspired by anything and I think it's incredibly important to absorb as much of other peoples work as you can. So you can see what's already out there, what does well, what kid's love, what they hate and most importantly what makes your ideas unique.

Joe R.

I get a lot of inspiration from tv and movies, probably more so than from literature. I feel a bit guilty but it probably doesn't really matter.

Joe R.

Very interesting, advice from Bob that you don't need a note book. I had advice from another writing course to use a note book! Seems a less fussy approach, to just work on one thing at a time. I find when working on a piece I get excited about new ideas, so I jot them down for later. Perhaps I don't need to be too precious about them, more ideas will come when I'm ready to work on them.

Vickie K.

This will require the use of the grandkids.... Are my titles their titles? 1. Tent's Alive 2. Midnight on Blue Lake