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Arts & Entertainment

The Idea Store

R.L. Stine

Lesson time 09:40 min

Bob reveals how to stay alert for ideas and shares three great places to find them: experience, memory, and imagination. These are departments in what he calls "the idea store."

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.


Every author-- their most asked question is, where do you get your ideas. Everyone asks it. Adults ask it, kids ask it, reporters ask it. Where do you get your ideas. I'd say maybe 2/3 of my fan mail starts out like this. Dear RL Stine, our teacher is forcing us to write to an author. I chose you, where do you get your ideas? And I have to say, in all honesty, I can't tell you how to get ideas. I can't. Other authors I know-- people will say, well why don't you start by asking yourself the question, what if. What if this happens. But that doesn't-- that's not an idea. You have to have an idea to answer the question. And I can't-- I can't tell you how to get ideas. But I can tell you how to go about getting ideas. I can tell you how to stay alert for ideas. And it's just a matter of thinking in the right ways and staying alert and keeping yourself open and watching for ideas. For a long time, I used to go to schools and I would say, well you can go to the idea store. That's where I get my ideas. I get my ideas at the idea store. And there are three different departments in the idea store. There's experience, memory, and imagination. And those are the three departments you can go to find ideas. And, actually-- I mean I made up idea store, it's ridiculous. But those three things are the way to lead you to ideas. Being alert is so important. I was taking a walk in my neighborhood. I was walking up West End Avenue in New York. And it was after school time and a boy walked by with his mother. And just as I passed, the boy said to his mother, "I'm the only boy in my class who can color inside the lines." And I thought, wow, I haven't thought about that in so long. The whole idea of having the color inside the lines. And I thought about that. Heard the voice, what the boy said. And I went home and I wrote a story. It actually became like a little radio play on my website called "How to Color a Monster." and it was about some kids who started coloring a monster coloring book. And if they go outside the lines, the monster will come to life. But I am telling this just as an example of how you can get an idea just from anything, from any brief moment. You just have to be alert to it. But one day I was in the airport in Los Angeles. And I was watching a family say goodbye to their kid-- their son. He was nine or 10 years old and he was flying by himself for the first time. And the parents were really nervous. They were hugging him and kissing him and saying, you'll be OK, you'll be fine. He was-- kid was fine. He was perfectly OK. But they were very nervous. And finally, he turned to go to the gate to get on the plane. And as he did that, his father handed him a white envelope. And he walked off and went onto the plane. And I'm watching this whole thing and suddenly I'm thinking what if he gets on the plane, he sits down, he opens the envelope, he takes out a note, and it says, "we are not your parents." How-- that just...

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.

Simply marvelous. All I can ask is for RL Stine teaches writing II.

I am an aspiring fantasy writer. I am currently working on a trilogy series. I have learned a lot with this MasterClass. Thank you for the knowledge :)

I really enjoyed everything about Bob, from sharing all of his secrets with us to his funny, matter of fact demeanor. Worth every penny! I have just two parting words, Shakira, Shakira!!

Great advice! Very inspirational and helpful. I started working my novel! Very excited! Thank you!


Chase L.

As someone who spent a lot of there youth in fear of books, Mainly due to my dyslexia. I was never able to read as fast as the rest of the people in my class. I found refuge in the Goosebumps series no mater how slow i read there is a twist or surprise in each chapter something to keep me pushing through, this helped me to develop I love for books so I am very grateful to Mr Stine for making sure I didn't close myself off from books. I have recently started writing myself so with the very varied master classes on here I hope it will help me push further....

AuthorSheryl C.

I'm sure where my post went. First I will agree on experience, memory and imagination. I'm writing a book and getting back to it since corona. I been depress like everyone and not into my classes. Number 50! Yes this method work, I'm here to learn cliffhangers. What if? We know it works for scripts cause we seen tons of movies and now corona happen here. Writing from dreams I done. Now my reality is making a bologna sandwich is my excitement. I got a boring life but don't we all at this time. My some of my lyrics and nightmares do come alive. I just got back to learning Portuguese once again in hope to complete a novel from high school in a script changing what I learn from adult. I see this hot singer. It's helping me to say come on girl you can do it. I dream that this like suit up robber come and try to drag me out of my bed. A few days or a week later he has on a similar outfit. An idea....An musician who can connect his fans through some form of magic. Now it can be scary, romantic or etc. I done my Flower Moon with this but I'm not saying it works. I'm using the main three I got number 50 without about 600 stories. I got finish it.

AuthorSheryl C.

I am taking this course while watching Judy Blume. I was trying to take my time but corona has push me to number 50 on Wattpad for middle readers. Like everyone I'm a little depress. Now What if do works for some stories but mostly I guess like script since we seen tons of movies about diseases similar to this. I do agree you get ideas from experience, memory, and imagination. My first middle reader I am working on and jumping in the class I use all three.

Liz L.

Most of my ideas come from dreams. I have amazing dreams that tell complete stories and sometimes even continue for days like a series.

Valentin C.

Are there lessons for us to turn in or is this just to self-learn and build on? Because I am good either way. R.L. Stine is a great ya writer.


I think R.L Stine has a lot of great ideas,I have yet to read his books or watch his movies,My friend highly recommended the GooseBumps tv show on Netflix and I plan to watch it and read all his books

Gregory L.

My biggest challenge for this won't be observing what's around me, but making a note of it so that I don't forget it. I'm usually hyper-aware, but also tend to drop things from my mind very quickly.

A fellow student

I love the idea store concept. Thank you for such an interesting and helpful lesson.

Wesley B.

I've always thought that creativity is the totality of our experiences (including fictional experiences), memories, and thoughts, but rearranged in different ways—kind of like pulling a puzzle apart and putting it back together in a new form. That's why it's so important for writers to remain open to new experiences, which makes for new memories, which makes for new sorts of thoughts and inspirations. Great lesson!

scott F.

I love the concept of "The Idea Store". I now have 3 sheets of paper in a notebook. One labeled Experience, the other labeled memory, and the third is Imagination. I won't focus 24/7 to fill the lines, but when I'm at my desk, I can job something on the proper page. I'm using a bit of all 3 in writing a novella for my nieces and nephews as a Christmas Present.