Arts & Entertainment, Writing

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."

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Topics include: Stay Alert for Ideas • Draw From Your Own Experiences • Source Ideas From Memory • Use Your Imagination (Not Your Dreams) • Create a Universe With Your Ideas


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...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

R.L. Stine

The Goosebumps author teaches you how to generate ideas, outline a plot, and hook young readers from the first page.

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