I remember borrowing an R.L. Stine novel from a friend. It was a book from the Fear Street series. Not the type of book I would usually read.
And I remember I was hooked right away. That spooky atmosphere and feeling of suspense are hard to forget…
Many would agree that nobody writes suspense like R.L. Stine. He writes horrors, but not the type of horrors that you would get nightmares from, and that’s why I’ve always appreciated him.
Today, more than 15 years later, I’m a writer too, and my big wish is to write a novel for kids one day. Therefore, taking R.L. Stine’s MasterClass seemed like a logical move.
So, did this course meet my expectations, and would I recommend it to fellow writers?
In this honest review, I’ll tell you everything about my learning experience.
Table of Contents
What is the R.L. Stine MasterClass?
R.L. Stine is a popular American novelist and short story writer best known for Fear Street and Goosebumps series. In his MasterClass, he breaks down his approach and writing techniques while providing examples from his work.
He talks about plot twists, cliffhangers, appropriate language, prose style, surprise elements, and other tricks that can grab young readers’ attention.
R.L. Stine’s MasterClass is rather detailed, providing insights into Stine’s novels and specific guidelines on how to write for young audiences.
The course consists of 28 lessons with a duration of 3 hours and 53 minutes in total.
Who is R.L. Stine?
Robert Lawrence Stine is an American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter.
Stine is the author of hundreds of horror fiction novels – he is often referred to as the “Stephen King of children’s literature“ for a reason. His recognizable writing style includes short sentences, cliffhangers, and a suspenseful atmosphere.
Some of Stine’s most popular series include Fear Street, Goosebumps, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly, and The Nightmare Room series. He also wrote the Space Cadets trilogy, two Hark gamebooks, and numerous joke books.
Who is R.L. Stine’s MasterClass for?
In his MasterClass, R.L. Stine takes his learners through the process of creating a novel step-by-step.
After explaining how he finds ideas, Bob proceeds with his lessons and case studies. So, the course is a combination of guidelines and Bob’s experiences as a writer.
I would say this MasterClass is best for aspiring writers who want to write a novel for kids. It’s suitable for beginners as well as more seasoned writers.
And since Bob talks about his tools and techniques and gives examples from his novels, it’s also great for admirers of his work.
To sum things up, here are some of the people who would, in my opinion, benefit from this course:
- Aspiring writers and storytellers
- Authors who want to start writing for young readers
- Admirers of R.L. Stine
What does R.L. Stine’s MasterClass cover?
R.L. Stine’s MasterClass covers the whole process of creating a novel for young readers, from start to finish. This includes finding an idea, outlining, creating characters, choosing a POV, adjusting language to a specific age group, and developing a prose style.
Bob also talks about writing as a career and all the challenges a writer has to deal with.
The course is also full of exercises and assignments, so it’s perfect for writers looking for concrete writing tips and guidelines.
The whole course is sort of like a how-to guide for aspiring writers.
Bob is a great teacher, honest and engaging, and he isn’t hesitant about sharing secrets of the trade. His subjective point of view might affect the overall quality of these secrets, but that doesn’t make them less helpful, as long as you’re aware of the subjective nature of MasterClass.
Either way, the course provides an in-depth look at the structure and language of novels that appeal to children and teens.
To make things even clearer, here is a quick overview of all the lessons:
- Lesson 1 is an introductory lesson where Bob briefly introduces himself and the course.
- Lessons 2-3 tackle finding ideas and inspiration. Bob mentions movies, your experiences, memories, topics, and titles as good sources of ideas.
- Lessons 4-7 cover the outlining process. Bob emphasizes the importance of plot twists, cliffhangers, and surprise endings.
- Lessons 8-10 delve deeper into what makes a novel suitable for kids and teens.
- Lesson 11 is dedicated to points of view and the way a certain POV can make a story scarier.
- Lessons 12-13 contain tips on how to hook young readers from the very first page and keep their attention by building suspense and scaring them.
- Lesson 14 is dedicated to the creation of monsters.
- Lessons 15-16 explore dialogue and prose style. Bob also talks about the role and usage of humor and horror.
- Lessons 17-18 are focused on characters. Bob talks about middle-grade and YA characters.
- Lessons 19-20 cover the process of writing drafts, revising, and getting feedback.
- Lesson 21 contains Bob’s tips on how to develop a book series.
- Lesson 22 tackles influences. Bob also breaks down what he’s learned about storytelling from some of his favorite writers.
- Lessons 23-24 dig deeper into writing as a career and the importance of promotion.
- Lessons 25-27 include tips on how to deal with writer’s block. Bob also provides story ideas and exercises to get you going.
- Lesson 28 is the final lesson, where Bob shares his parting words and encourages his learners to start writing and have fun in the process.
My favorite lessons from R.L. Stine’s MasterClass
I really enjoyed R.L. Stine’s course.
In fact, when it comes to writing courses, his MasterClass is one of the best I’ve taken so far.
There are many important topics covered, from finding ideas to starting a career as a writer. Bob has advice for every part of the process.
Whether you’re a beginner or an author with several novels behind you, there’s something for you in this course.
It’s hard to choose which lessons I liked the most, so here are three of my personal favorites.
The idea store
All right, what is the idea store?
In essence, it’s a term Bob made up to answer the most common question for writers. But it somehow makes perfect sense. There are three departments, including the departments with experiences, memory, and imagination.
According to Bob, you shouldn’t rely on your dreams to get ideas. You should observe the world and be alert to memories instead.
Outlining: surprise endings and cliffhangers
R.L. Stine is a master of suspense.
So, how does he pull it off?
According to Bob, he manages to grab his readers’ attention and makes them turn the page by adding plot twists and cliffhangers. These are tried and true methods to get kids to read.
Bob reveals that half of his cliffhangers are teasers, and half of them are real scares. You just need to be able to incorporate them into your story in a new and effective way.
Surprises at the end are also something that will add to the overall impression of a novel.
Kids are the best audience
In this encouraging and heartwarming lesson, Bob talks about his audience: children. He is amazed by how curious, interested, and smart kids can be, and he doesn’t understand why anyone would choose to write for adults.
He also explains that to be a successful novelist, you need to make your books fun for kids, determine what age you want to write for and get to know their world.
How much does the MasterClass cost?
Annual plans are typically available at $120 a year (which makes it $10 per month, billed annually) for the Individual plan, providing access to MasterClass courses on one device, $180 a year for the Duo plan (two devices), and $240 a year for the Family plan (six devices).
A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it, and there are pleny of interesting courses on related topics to explore.
Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.
Note that MasterClass is currently running an end-of-year special offer which gives you 40% off your annual membership – as MasterClass rarely gives any discounts to speak of, I would recommend you take advantage of this beore it expires.
What I liked about R.L. Stine’s MasterClass
I think R.L. Stine’s class achieves all its goals. It’s insightful, dynamic, inspiring, and easy to follow.
Bob speaks in a very clear and honest way, and he guided me through the whole process step-by-step. I didn’t feel bored or overwhelmed, and I certainly felt like I wanted to start writing right away.
I would definitely recommend this course to fellow writers and anyone interested in writing for children. There’s a ton of useful information in there, and thanks to Bob’s tips and exercises, you’ll probably be ready to write your first draft once you finish the course.
The main reasons why I think this MasterClass is worth taking include:
Learning from an iconic author
R.L. Stine is hands down one of the most iconic horror writers of our time. Thanks to him, many children around the world started to love reading.
Learning from such a talented and hardworking writer was truly a privilege. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from Bob as a person. But he turned out to be interesting, entertaining, and inspiring.
I don’t agree with some of his methods and opinions, but that’s not relevant here. When it comes to his teaching skills and attitude, he did a fantastic job.
One of the reasons why Bob is such a good teacher is because he provides really helpful tips. He delivers them in a clear, straightforward way, and he is very sure of his techniques and tools.
As I mentioned before, Stine’s MasterClass is like a writing guide – but an immersive and entertaining one.
As a MasterClass learner, I’m not always immersed in a lesson. But just like he does with his books, Bob managed to pull me into his world right away.
Thanks to excellent production quality and Bob’s teaching skills, the course has a really nice flow. There’s magical music, case studies, excerpts from novels… All of this makes this MasterClass as immersive as it can be.
Potential drawbacks of R.L. Stine’s MasterClass
Although I genuinely enjoyed the course, there are some things that could be improved.
Although this is true for every MasterClass, Bob’s course provides a subjective point of view.
While I don’t usually point this out as a disadvantage, Bob shares his tricks in a very confident way so they appear as if they are rules.
For instance, he says that stories for kids don’t need moral lessons, and he creates stories that are just for fun. Although I understand what he means by that, I think it would be good if he acknowledged that every writer has their own process.
Writing for kids is very specific, so it’s easy to think of Bob’s guidelines as writing rules. And while most of his tips are really useful, and I’ll probably use them in my own writing, I think it’s important to be aware of how subjective some of them are.
Review conclusion: Is R.L. Stine’s MasterClass worth it?
So, is R.L. Stine’s MasterClass worth taking?
Well, It’s a big yes from me.
With an experience of over 40 years of writing for kids, R.L. Stine is a perfect instructor for this course.
Through 28 bite-sized lessons, he breaks down his writing process and shares useful tips on how to create suspense, adjust your vocabulary to a targeted audience, and make your novels stand out from the crowd.
By the end of the course, you should be able to understand how novel writing really works. As a fiction writer, I was familiar with many of the things he talked about, but I also learned a lot about how to make novels appealing to younger audiences.
Plus, I felt focused, inspired, and engaged during the whole course.
You don’t need a cliffhanger to keep watching MasterClass videos. You just need a good teacher, interesting topics, and a captivating atmosphere.