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Arts & Entertainment

Writing as a Career

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 12:06 min

Bob shares advice for aspiring writers and teaches why it's important to choose your genre and understand the market.

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 think you want to be a writer, there's one thing I think is really important, and it's a very basic thing-- you have to actually like to write. There are-- I don't know, I was an odd kid. I was weird. When I was nine years old I was in my room typing. I was writing. I was like driven to it. I have no idea why. And I think if you really want to be a writer, you have to like the process of writing. If you think you want to do it because it's easy, or you like being alone all day, or you want to be famous, or you want your books to become movies, that's probably not a good idea because it probably won't work out. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think very early on, you have to decide what kind of writer you want to be. I always wanted to entertain people. I started out writing funny books, and then the scary books came along. And my whole goal was just to entertain, to get kids to read. It was reading motivation to show kids that it could be entertaining. You could turn to books, and just be entertained, and nothing else. And I had no further ambition than that. I wanted to be a commercial writer, and I think you have to figure out whether you want to do that kind of thing, or if you have literary ambitions, and you want to write something that's more for yourself than for an audience. Ken Follett-- the novelist, Ken Follett-- told me a great story on this subject. He was having a phone conversation with another author, a very literary author, very artistic, very serious author, and the author said to Ken, I only write for myself. I don't write for the audience. I only want to please one person, that's me. And when I write, I write everything just for me. And Ken said, well, that's why you are a great writer, and I'm rich. [MUSIC PLAYING] When you're starting out as a writer, I think before you start thinking about your audience, and who they are, you want to pick, specifically-- you have to figure out how are you going to figure out what you want to write. You're not going to just sit down, and start writing a novel about something. You have to think about what you're interested in, for one thing. Or what do you read? Do you read a lot of science fiction? So maybe that's what you want to write. You're going to-- you want to write about what you're really interested in. Do you read a lot of romances, and do you find those really fun? So maybe you want to try one. That's what you want to write. And then once you figure out what genre you want to write, then you can start thinking about the audience, and thinking about who these people who are going to want to read it. Maybe they are people just like you. But I think it's really important, if you're drawn to something, figure out what you want to do, what audience you want. Who's your audience? Do you want to write for adults? Do you want to write for a big general audience? Do you want to write for someone-- a literary audience? Try to figure out what you want to do first...

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 very easy to follow and packed with great suggestions. Thanks!

Reinforced the knowledge I have, and help me going forward in my writing.

Loved this Masterclass. R.L. Stine is a classic. His style is warm and encouraging and he offers good advice, exercises and prompts to promote daily writing. He has motivated me to 'get moving', set a routine and complete my children's book!

This class is phenomenal! It is teaching me to write like a boss, and all of the strategies discussed (there are many) are very useful! Worth the $90!


Amanda G.

I live in Ohio, not far from Columbus. I was working in schools, which was excellent for a person who likes to write for 7-12 year olds, let me tell you. They would say, Mrs. Gatton, we just want books that AREN’T BORING! Now, I work in a science laboratory. I asked my boss during my interview, what would I be expected to do with downtime. He said however I chose to entertain myself at my desk during downtime would be just dandy with him. He actually digs that I’m a writer, so I’m totally allowed and encouraged to write my heart out on the clock! And it’s a sort of creepy 1950s laboratory so the inspiration is never ending. I would say I’ve found the right day job!!!

Tammy P.

Wow, what an inspiring lesson! And the part about making up interviews was so funny :) I'm very impressed with this course so far.

Rapha R.

Hi everyone! I’d like your opinion on self-publish (ebook) while searching for agent / publisher. Should I do it? Do publishers dislike a book that has already been digitally release?

Shayne O.

I love that. Just say yes and give it a shot. This is even important in your own mind. 'I'd like to write a children's book, but I don't think I can because I write adult style books'. You have an idea go for it. Don't be defeatist and talk yourself out of it.

Rachel M.

I checked out the Top 20 Middle Grade books of 2018. It's a bit of a mix but it seems some of the common themes are 10-12-year-old protagonists (mostly female and/or of color) going on adventures (varies with science-fiction and fantasy). Also some historical fiction, as well as a lot featuring Muslim kids in the Middle East. Makes sense with the current world issues.

Monie M.

I grew up reading goosebumps. It got me in the habit of reading books I wanted to read. I’m 35🙂 so this MasterClass was so fun to lean about you R.L Stine , you were always so mysterious to us kids . Thanks for being so honest in your class!!

Tina K.

It's nice to hear an accomplished author be authentic about how he became successful! His story, if made into a book would be worth the read. He also demonstrated the importance of networking and just try, and try again. I appreciate him sharing this story.


A great lesson. I must remember to say 'yes' as you never know what may happen.

Connor S.

I find working at a bookstore helps. I've been working at one for a year now, I've really got to see what the market looks like at store level. What's selling, what isn't, what are the best sellers, what are people buying. It also just gives a good look at what is out there in the genre I'm writing in. I recommend that everyone who wants to have a career as a writer to go to bookstores whenever they can just to see what the market is looking like at the present moment.

Ryan L.

My favorite story about getting into writing is how JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, at that point just a pair of college friends who hung out in a group of classic fantasy fans, discussed how frustrated they were that no one seemed to be writing those kinds of books anymore, and finally they just realized "Maybe if we want new books like this so much, we should write them."