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Arts & Entertainment

Revising and Getting Feedback

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 08:17 min

Learn how to first revise on your own and then seek honest feedback. Bob teaches you what questions to ask of your draft-readers and editors—and how to take criticism in stride.

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.


When I've finished a manuscript and I have a first draft of a book, I go back up to the beginning and I read it. And I read it as a reader, but I also, read it looking for a lot of things. And I look for scenes that seem to drag. I look for mistakes that I've made. Once, I wrote a manuscript about a boy named, Chris, and halfway through the book, his name was Jack, and his name changed halfway through. But I caught it. After the first draft, I caught it, and I was able to change it. So you look for mistakes. I always look for weather mistakes. You're always saying, it was a cloudy day and then, suddenly, the sun is on the next page. I look for consistency, all the way through. And then, I look for typos-- typing's very important to me. And then, I look for scenes that don't go far enough. And a lot of times, I'll have some scary scene that I've done in the first draft and I'm looking at it and I think, I can make this scarier. I've have it down already. I can just take what I have, but I can increase the horror. I can slow it down. I can add this. I can add more feeling. I can have the kid more scared. It should be more. And I usually do that, almost in every manuscript, when I go through the second time because you have something to look at. You've got a base here. And then, you can build on it. [MUSIC PLAYING] You've done a first draft, and then, you've gone through, you've done a second draft and you've caught everything. And you've read it and thought about it more. You got your second draft. Then, find someone who's willing to read it. Find someone who likes to read. Someone who's maybe, whose opinion you trust. Find somebody-- a family member-- somebody who will read it. If you have somebody who is willing to read your manuscript, after they read it, ask them, what do you think of the characters? Which characters did you like? Did it seem real? Do the characters seem real? And how was the pacing? Do you think it dragged in some places? What do you think? Was there any place you didn't believe? Anything you didn't believe? What did you think? What did you think of the action? Those are the basic questions you want to ask, after a second draft. Find someone-- a lot of people have readers or they have reader clubs. A lot of writers I know, have first readers, and they do it for fun. Or they pay people. They say, just give me an opinion. Ask someone in your family who likes to read. Find somebody and just say, give me an opinion. And it'll help. When you're starting out, you don't have an editor. You don't have someone to tell you, go through it line by line. But to get an opinion on your first draft, just someone who says, gee, I loved the first part and then, it kind of dipped off. Or someone who says, oh, gee, that character just wasn't likable at all. I didn't want to like that person. That kind of help-- even though it's not coming from a professional, it'll still give you a clue ...

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.

This was my first Master Class and I loved it ... so much so I'm about to watch it again. My instructor was entertaining, knowledgeable, believable and most importantly informative and enjoyable.

I am enjoying the class and cant wait for the next lesson.

I felt as though I was sitting in the same room with Mr. Stine. So brilliant and inspiring.

This class was the best yet. You can see the joy and fun Mr Stine gets when writing. It's contagious, I can only hope in my own way I can prepare and write as he does. Always prepared, always fun. Thank you Mr. Stine


A fellow student

R.L. Stine really grew on me...he's funny and honest, so happy he created this class!!

A fellow student

Man... i don't write children books but RL Stine has grown on me so much. He's absolutely hilarious and knows how to deliver jokes. This pause and dead stare before saying the "two words" by his wife/editor. I can picture it "Psychotic ramblings". I would bawl man.

Zackary B.

r.l. stine i love yor books u ar amazing and i give the clas 253356316899 out of ten

Jacob R.

My biggest problem in my early writing was that my "editor" was always my mom. She never had anything bad to say about my work, even if I was kind of hoping for it. I look back at some of my old work and just facepalm.

Coe F.

I have two binders: one titled " YAY!! "and another titled "It's not personal." Guess which one is for my rejection letters ;)

Clara S.

Is Bob laughing at his critics? I would be too if my name was R.L. Stine Criticism can be negative or positive. I do not accept negative criticism. There are ways to critique a manuscript without getting personal or giving your own opinions. If there are not beta readers in the area and you need someone to read your first draft or manuscript I suggest getting online a guide on how to critique a manuscript and give it to the person reading your draft.


Thoroughly enjoying what R.L. Stine has to say and love his wicked humour too. I found this somewhere online and reworked it just a tad (with apologies to the original author) as it is very useful and I thought relevant to this discussion. It is just common sense advice really. REVISION - ARMS Revise from writing session to writing session – do not revise after racing through an entire draft! Use the ARMS acronym: Add — Adding sentences and words to your scene description and dialogue to tell your story better. Remove —  Removing sentences and words from your scene description and dialogue to better embrace the “less is more” mantra. Move — Moving sentences and words from your scene description and dialogue to create better pacing, structure, and flow. Substitute — Substituting words and sentences for new ones to create better syntax, articulation, and style. EDITING – CUPS Editing is objective. Revision is subjective. Editing is checking for grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. Use the CUPS acronym: Capitalize —  Capitalizing names, places, titles, months, and other elements. Example: If you’re writing a military script, lieutenant should be Lieutenant (titles). Usage —  Making sure that the usage of nouns and verbs is correct. Example: “Have you packed your luggages?” is incorrect. The correct version would be “Have you packed your luggage?”  While this example may seem extreme and silly, you’d be surprised how many mistakes like this are found in submitted screenplays. Punctuation — Making sure punctuation is correct by checking periods, quotes, commas, semicolons, apostrophes, etc. Spelling —  Spellchecking all words and looking for homophone mistakes.  Homophone Examples: Your and You’re. New and Knew. To and Too. There, Their, and They’re. Its and It’s. Then and Than. Effect and Affect. Cache and Cachet. Break and Brake. Principle and Principal. Breath and Breathe. Rain, reign, and rein. By, buy, and bye. Get someone to proofread it: this is NOT the same as revision.

Ryan L.

I was pretty terrified that my writing was horrible until I got some other people to check it out. One of my favorite films is Ed Wood, so I just kept thinking "Am I being that person who just can't see how obviously bad their work is?" Luckily, everyone I've showed it to loved it, and I was then able to take the suggestions for improvements and make it even better.


SO, I am having a really hard time finding someone to read my first three chapters. How do you get feedback when your world is small, and you are not surrounded by readers? Ideas???

Rob G.

I was listening to another best selling author (Jerry Jenkins) talking about revising and he said that the more you can edit yourself and fix things in the manuscript, the less a publisher's editor has to do. It makes a much better impression when you're submitting a manuscript if the publisher can see you've done a lot of the editing work. This guy also talked about editing out redundant words. The phrase "he nodded his head in agreement" for instance can be edited down to "he nodded" (what else would he be nodding? And he'd hardly be nodding in disagreement).