Monday, October 10, 2011

What You Can Learn From R. L. Stine- Book Review for Deep Trouble


Deep Trouble

Author: R. L. Stine

Goosebumps Book Series

The November/December addition of Writer's Digest arrived and as a writer who dreams of being published, I began reading it on the way back from the mailbox. ( My mailbox is down a long lane, in case you care) Thumbing through I find an article on R.L.Stine and dig in. I am curious because my son loved those books when he was younger and my grand kids love them now so what gives?

R. L. Stine has a long list of successful books for kids, around 400 titles. He has single handed brought more kids to the written word than any other author and I know this because I see kids reading his work wherever I go. His books may not be your thing but any writer can learn from his work.

 I just read Deep Trouble from front to back along with re-reading the article about him in Writer's Digest and I have come to this conclusion. You can learn about writing by reading R. L. Stine. And if you dream of becoming a children's writer, you can learn even more.

This is what I learned.
  • R. L. Stine has exceptional titles to his books. The title is his inspiration and it is what hooks the reader
  • He outlines. Writers who outline and then go back to fill in the details have a solid story every time.
  • He uses a common emotion to hook the reader, he uses fear among other emotions. Courage, acceptance, and love are woven through most of his stories as well.
  • He uses a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. Cliffhangers keep the reader turning the page, and don't we all want that when we read. We should strive for that for our readers when we write.
  • The words he puts on paper are the exact words needed to tell the story. He is not wordy, doesn't have extra descriptions, and puts the specific nouns and verbs necessary to make the writing clear. Choosing the right words make the reader want to keep reading.
  • He creates realistic characters. Don't make your characters too perfect, give them a flaw and the reader will relate to the character easier than having the perfect kiddo. The readers are not perfect so why would they want to read about perfect kids.
  • R.L. Stine leaves the adults in the background. Kids love that. The child in the story is the active character with the problem and who can solve the problem without adult interventions for the most part. The kid solves it. Perfect. Children's writers take note.
If you want to write for children, I would recommend that you read children's authors and not just those that write what you like to read. Read authors who write what your children want to read. There can be a wide difference in technique and you may find a gold nugget of information that will help you with your writing style.
As for the book review: Deep Trouble is part fantasy ( mermaids), mystery ( missing mermaid), scary ( deep sea adventure including a sea monster), and suspense ( is there really a sea monster, how about mermaids, and how does he think this stuff up) all rolled into a great book for kids that I actually couldn't put down. I see why kids love it, now if I could only write the same way. Next up for me, reading Don't Go To Sleep and whatever R. L. Stine can teach me from this one.

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