“have fun with it.”R.L. Stine on writing
Robert Lawrence Stine was born October 8th, 1943, in Columbus, Ohio. He began writing stories and jokes at the age of 9.
He graduated from Ohio State University in 1965 with a B.A. in English. After college, he went to work for a soft drink magazine, then became an assistant editor at Junior Scholastic. There he learned about reading levels and vocabulary lists, which helped inform his writing when he later wrote a few series for kids. Just a few.
Kidding – to date, he has written hundreds of horror fiction novels that have sold over 400 million copies. Hun. Der. Eds. This seems bananas, right? Hundreds?
Ironically – before penning Fear Street and Goosebumps, Stine wrote dozens of humor books for kids as “Jovial Bob Stine” and created the humor magazine Bananas. Stine worked on Bananas for a decade throughout his thirties. He reportedly said yes to everything to make a living – writing for comics, coloring books, and even writing jokes for bubble gum. His wife Jane, whom he married in 1969, is his editor, and early in his career, they collaborated on several humor books.
While having lunch with an editor in the 1980s, the editor urged Stine to write a horror book for teens, even giving him the title, Blind Date. It was published in 1987 and became a best-seller.
In 1989 he published the first book in his Fear Street series, The New Girl. The Fear Street series eventually grew to 51 books and multiple spin-offs, selling over 80 million books. In 2014 the series came back with the Return to Fear Street series – more extended and in hardcover.
After the initial Fear Street book, Stine released one book a month, writing 12 Fear Street and 12 Goosebumps books a year.
The first book in the Goosebumps series, Welcome to Dead House, was published in July 1992. The original Goosebumps series has 62 books, published from 1992 – 1997. Since then, 235 books have been published, and 400 million books have been sold worldwide in 32 languages. Goosebumps is targeted to 3rd – 7th graders as horror with a funny twist.
He wrote The Big Thrill in just eight days. He usually writes from 9:30 until 2:30 in the afternoon, writing around 2,000 words a day. Many of his books take just 2 – 3 weeks to write. He creates an outline of around 20 pages and goes from there, saying it staves off writer’s block.
On his website, he offers a free writing program for teachers and librarians!
Lesson from R. L. Stine
Stine is incredibly successful but sits his butt in the chair every day and gets eight pages down, come hell or high water. If you’re like – how does someone write hundreds of novels and sell hundreds of millions of copies? I think that’s the answer.