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Arts & Entertainment

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.


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.

R.L. Stine breaks down the writing process into deliciously fun tidbits. Keeping it simple, knowing who you're writing for and from which point of view and why, were key lessons for me. A very enjoyable masterclass.

I grew up reading Goosebumps and actually have a large collection of Goosebumps books and memorabilia. It was interesting to hear how R.L. thinks...

This is an amazing class. R. L. Stine has a great style with a good sense of humor that comes across well in this course.

Sooo worth it. R.L. Stine address a few bad habits. Such a great writer and teacher!


Chao T.

I really love the examples that he is giving us. It really gives us a look inside of his mind and how he comes by his ideas, something not a lot of authors would like to expose.

Keven P.

It's true about the "ideas" (do one at a time. I have to many ideas and I always struggle on what to work on or focus on. Currently I've decided to go back to my roots when I was ten and R. L. Stine inspired me to be a writer. At that age I wanted to write kids horror just like him. Now after decades of not doing that I decided to go back to what inspired me to write and put my other ideas on hold.

AuthorSheryl C.

I agree about the movies. Twilight zone is a good one to mention. I liked watching it when younger with parents and sisters. My new idea come from experience of wanting to be a singer and memory of being a doll for Christmas pageant. It was like I can do this I recall watch and buying CD/DVD of Cheetha Girls for my daughter. My daughter growing up was a big Monster High fan. So searching through stuff I knew I wanted to do a Fairy High. I wanted my girls to go high school and have this fiction of a time. I'm sorry guys if I don't resonate with horror. I have enough nightmares and watch a lot Sci Fry … I love romance writing and girly things.


I never read any of his books, however, after watching the first two lessons I can already see tons of things that are missing in the content I want to create.

Carolyn M.

I thought the lesson was very concise and succinct and started me thinking about different ideas. I'm looking forward to the next lesson.

Nadia A.

will your right about to keep your eyes open to titles from your daily life. before writing the most important thing to have one idea and the rest will come when you start writing


I loved it. I'm not familiar with his books and was poking around masterclass writers when I found R.L.Stine. He makes specific points that are very helpful and I found myself nodding my head yes, because I've thought similar ways at times, but he brought the light of day to them. The book titles! So simple yet smart. Welcome to camp Nightmare! He had me laughing out loud. Looking forward to the rest of these classes

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.