Thinking about taking R.L. Stine’s MasterClass but want to know if it’s worth it? Want to know what you’re getting and if it’s helpful before you sign up? Read on for my R.L. Stine MasterClass review.
R.L. Stine is the author of over 300 books for readers ages 7 to 15. Generations of kids have been introduced to the wonderful world of horror through Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street series. Stine is a true master of reaching young readers, and who better to host his course than MasterClass?
In this post, I’m going to share my personal R.L. Stine MasterClass review. I’ll outline what’s in the course, what I learned and what I didn't, and why you should (or shouldn't!) take the class.
Before we get started I want to be fully transparent. I wasn’t paid to write this review, but you should know that the links below are affiliate links. If you sign up for MasterClass, it will help me be able to keep writing (and help me continue sharing what I’ve learned about the writing process). Of course, this won’t affect your overall price, and it didn’t affect my decision on the course.
Take a look at R.L. Stine’s MasterClass here. Now, let’s jump in.
How to Write for Young Readers
I almost lost it when I found out R.L. Stine was doing a MasterClass. I grew up devouring every book of his I could get my hands on. When I first started trying to write a novel at about ten years old, it was the Fear Street books I was trying to emulate.
Of course, at that time I was in his demographic. I’ve since gotten older, unfortunately, and the idea of writing middle grade or even young adult books is quite frankly terrifying.
Kids are so brutally honest. They’ll love you or hate you and they won’t be afraid to let you know which one. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. (See what I did there? Hehe.)
I just had to see what Stine’s tricks of the trade were, though.
What You Get in R.L. Stine’s MasterClass
If you haven’t taken a Masterclass before, here’s the deal: You get pre-recorded video lessons, intensive assignments, an interactive community, and instructor “office hours.”
In this particular case, the course material includes almost four hours of video, a class workbook with assignments, and case study outlines and character cheat sheets to download.
1. A Sit-down With Bob Himself
Yes, R. L. Stine, author of over 300 books, who has sold more than 400 million copies, wants me to call him Bob.
In each one I felt like I was sitting fireside with Stine as he recounted his 40 years of writing advice. I leaned forward. I was smiling. It was like getting life lessons from a grandparent.
Bob (I still can’t get used to that) had me scribbling down profound quotes while I chuckled at his jokes. I felt at home and like he was talking directly to me.
2. 28 Vibrant HD Video Lessons
There are twenty-eight video lessons in this course. Count them: Twenty-eight! Each one is beautifully shot and the transitions are underscored with delightfully creepy music to set the mood.
Here’s an outline of all the lessons:
- The Idea Store
- Other Rich Sources of Ideas
- Getting From Idea to Plot Outline
- Outlining: Surprise Endings and Cliffhangers
- Outlining: Plot Twists and Tricks
- Outline Case Study
- Kids Are the Best Audience
- Writing for Different Age Levels
- Case Study: Comparing Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction
- The Key to Scary Writing: POV
- Hook Readers Right Away
- How to Scare Your Readers
- Making Monsters
- Dialogue and Prose Style
- Mixing Horror and Humor
- Creating Middle Grade Characters
- Creating YA Characters
- Have Fun With Your First Draft
- Revising and Getting Feedback
- Developing a Book Series
- Borrow From Your Influences
- Writing as a Career
- Promoting Yourself
- Combating Writer’s Block and Developing Routines
- Twenty Story Ideas for You
- Exercises to Get You Going
3. PDF Downloads
The videos were just the start of the lessons. There are several downloadable resources, including a very thorough class workbook with assignments, lesson reviews, suggested readings, and more.
I expected the videos and class workbook. When I got about halfway through the course and Bob started referring to his outlining process, I found out he shared his actual outlines for download, plus a character cheat sheet for one of his novels. I got to see directly into his process and I was so giddy about it.
There are actually two outlines for the same book, one his publisher rejected and the other they greenlighted. That added an extra layer of learning, as not only was I seeing how Stine worked, but also what would cause a publisher to kick something back to you.
As a bonus, at the end of the course Bob includes story ideas for you to use and exercises to get you writing.
Each lesson comes with writing exercises and there’s an overall class project (to actually write a novel for young readers!). The exercises are fantastic and I love the idea of an overarching project. The homework takes you through the process of writing a novel step-by-step and then sets you free to finish up your own story.
I’ll admit right now that I haven’t done all the homework, but I definitely plan to as soon as I’m done with my latest novel. I’m really interested to see if I can produce a decent middle grade or young adult horror book.
5. Office Hours + Class Interaction
The MasterClass also includes “office hours,” which gives you the opportunity to ask Bob questions and get a response via video. That part was so cool! He had the same charisma and easy charm in video responses that he had pre-recorded. (Okay, I’ll stop fangirling.)
You also have the option to interact with other writers taking the class in the Hub and via comments on the videos. As you know, we’re super into interaction with other writers here at The Write Practice, so that was a feature I was really excited to see.
R.L. Stine’s MasterClass: What’s to Love
- Bob. I’ll say it again: This was seriously like sitting in the same room with him. He was so natural in his lessons, I couldn’t help but be enthralled.
- No-nonsense advice. A lot of writers like to pretend writing is a mysterious thing, magical even. Bob doesn’t believe that. Do the work, reap the benefits. His tips are amazingly down to earth and are all things you can practice now. No Ouija board or magic beans needed.
- Tricks of the (young reader) trade. Not having children, I had no idea how to reach younger readers before this course. Bob outlines what kids like, what they don’t, and how to keep them reading. Now I feel like I might be able to manage writing for littles.
- Case studies. There are countless case studies in these lessons. Bob reads excerpts from several of his novels, and even a short story or two, to show you exactly what he means. It was beyond cool to see the outlines and character sheet. He’s huge on prep work and I’m not so much, so when he started talking about outlining (and you can see above there are several lessons on it) I groaned. Then I saw the outlines and realized his prep work is not at all how I pictured it, but is actually pretty close to what I do.
- Jokes. If you didn’t already know, Bob was a humor writer for a long time before hitting on horror. The man is funny. His life stories are funny. Just like he does in his Goosebumps books, he does a nice job of injecting some comedic relief into this course.
- Step-by-step process. This course takes you through Bob’s entire process from idea to writing to marketing. Throughout it all, he reminds you to relax and have fun, which is something I definitely needed to be reminded.
The Negatives: Why R.L. Stine's Master Class Might Not Be for You
Like any class, this isn’t for everyone. Here are a few reasons why you might want to skip this one:
- No-nonsense advice. I know I just said this was a pro and not a con. But if you’re looking for some magic formula to write, you won’t find it here. (Because there isn’t one.) What you'll find instead are realistic, down-to-earth tips on what being a writer is like.
- No critique. The class doesn’t promise this, but if you’re looking to interact more with an instructor, namely getting critique or brainstorming, this isn’t the class for you. Bob will take questions for his office hours video, but he’s not going to read your book.
- No playbook. If you’re looking for someone to tell you exactly what to do and when to do it, this might not be for you. Bob gives you how he does it, but flat out says things work differently for everyone.
- Some of this sounds familiar . . . If you’ve taken a couple writing courses or have read writing books, you may find some of this course to be rehashing what you already know. Personally, that was the case for me on most of the writing portions of the course. But I’m already a horror writer. And I’ve taken a ton of writing courses and have read every writing book out there (or it feels like it). What I did learn was how to reach young audiences and was reminded to have fun during the writing process.
- You’re really not into writing for young readers. Bob has made an incredibly successful career writing for MC and YA audiences. This is less of a horror writing course and more of a course about how to connect with young readers. If you’re not interested in writing for YA or middle grade readers, this isn’t for you. But if you’re cool with that, then read on for my final conclusion.
Sign up here or read on for my final review.
My Review: Is R.L. Stine’s MasterClass for You?
Should you take R.L. Stine’s MasterClass? Do it! If you’re able, I would definitely recommend putting in the time for this course. In my opinion, the videos alone are worth the money.
Ready to take R.L. Stine's MasterClass and transform your writing?
I’m not super interested in writing for the MG crowd. That said, the tips Bob gives to learn to connect with your audience are applicable to every genre and age group.
The writing-oriented advice was familiar to me, but may not be to you. He covers a lot of standard ground but in a different way, like reminding you to have fun. (Fun! I had completely forgotten that’s why I started writing to begin with.)
You might not jive with the writing process he recommends. He knows that and fully admits there are different processes for everyone. Still, he lays out a pretty good one and with some tweaks (or without) it might be a process that works for you.
This course is for those writers who maybe want to get nostalgic (if you grew up on Stine) and for those who really want to see the process of writing a book step-by-step. And hear some pretty funny personal stories along the way.
MasterClass offers two options for access their courses.
You can pay month-to-month for $15, including a 30-day money back guarantee. $15 gives you access to their incredible library of courses and experts for a month.
If you'd like unlimited access to all the MasterClasses for a year, you can get an all-access pass for $180. There are several other MasterClasses by expert authors, including one by Neil Gaiman, so if you'd like to learn from as many great authors as you can, the all-access pass is a great option. You can read our review of Neil Gaiman's MasterClass here.
Final verdict: I thoroughly enjoyed R.L. Stine’s MasterClass and I was legitimately sad when I watched the last video. Even if you don’t write horror or have no interest in writing for young readers, I still think you could learn a thing from this master. I’m thankful he reminded me the reasons I started this whole writing thing to begin with: to have fun and to entertain people.
Ready to learn from R.L. Stine? Sign up here.
Have you taken R.L. Stine’s MasterClass? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments.
R.L. Stine normally starts with a title. Today, your practice is to think of a title. Do it quickly and don’t overthink it.
Then, take fifteen minutes to write a story based on that title.
And don’t forget to check out R.L. Stine’s Masterclass, too.
Sarah Gribble is the author of dozens of short stories that explore uncomfortable situations, basic fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She just released Surviving Death, her first novel, and is currently working on her next book.