The Game of 2,000 Words & Other Tips from R.L. Stine


Happy Tuesday, readers, writers, and shark fans! We love Motivation Mondays and Tuesday Tips around here, so today, we thought we’d share an interesting series of tips from Goosebumps YA horror author R.L. Stine.

We recently sat in on an interview between some of the production team at NaNoWriMo and R.L. Stine that we thought was profound and wanted to share our favorite takeaways from that event.

Continue for our favorite tips from the interview, information about R.L. Stine’s FIRST-EVER craft writing book, and an incredible writing prompt that we’ve been writing to ever since!



The Game of 2,000 Words

True to R.L. Stine’s humorous nature, he opened his series of tips with, “First, sharpen five or six #2 pencils and place them by your keyboard. Second, that way, if things don’t work out, you can stab yourself in the eye!’ He was joking, of course, and referring to the frustration many of us face when we’re writing a new piece.

Our favorite writing tip from the interview was in R.L. Stine’s explanation that he likes to keep himself to a set schedule. He starts writing every day at 10 AM (no, he’s not a member of the 5 AM Club!) and writes until he has reached 2,000 words (10 pages), which takes him about three hours. He then rewards himself with something he loves, like walking his dog, and the rest of the day is his. But as much fun as he always has throughout the rest of his day, his writing is always a favorite aspect of his day.

But taking a closer look at this routine, the key part is the 2,000 word mark. Stine has turned this into a “game” for himself, as he writes until he reaches 2,000 words every day, and then stops writing no matter where he is in the story—mid-chapter, mid-sentence, whatever! 2,000 words are reached, and it’s time to stop writing. It’s one of the many ways that he keeps writing interesting, and it keeps his mind in the story, as picking back up mid-sentence the next day throws him right back into the action.

We found this fascinating, because our Editor-in-Chief has always rewritten the last paragraph or sentence that she wrote the day before to help her get back into the story, mindset, and voice of the piece she’s been working on—but she’s liking R.L. Stine’s approach even better! Try it out, and let us know what you think!



There’s Something Strange About My Brain

R.L. Stine previously shared these tips during his first ever Masterclass, and he later took the key points from that Masterclass and collected them in his first ever craft nonfiction book, There’s Something Strange About My Brain: Writing Horror for Kids.

The book includes Stine’s 62 favorite writing tips, 20 writing prompts (or story starters, as he often refers to them), as well as writing space. For this reason, the paperback edition will be best for writers who love to write on paper, but for those who prefer typing or ebooks, there’s an ebook edition available, as well!



A Writing Prompt: “Someone, Let Me Out!”

At the end of his interview, Stine was asked if he had a quick ten-minute writing prompt he could share with his fellow writers. While he didn’t specifically have a ten-minute prompt on hand, he DID have the start of a short story that listeners were free to use! We’ve transcribed the full story starter below, and we welcome you to submit your completed stories, poems, plays, and other works that are based on this prompt to Lit Shark for consideration!

“Here is the start: Sarah and her husband planned a vacation trip to Cape Cod, and they’re going to have a week in a cabin by the ocean in Wellfleet. Sarah says to her husband, ‘You know, we’re going to be in Cape Cod; we have to stop in and see my Uncle Williard.’

Her husband says, ‘No, your uncle is so strange. Do we really have to—‘

She said, ‘I don’t get to see him very often, he’s very lonely, he’s all by himself in Hyannis. We’ll just make a quick stop in Hyannis, and we can spend, like, one evening with Williard, okay?’

So he relents. So they go, and Williard is this old guy, he’s pretty much a hermit, he has this little house, and he likes to fish and hunt around, and he’s in a little house in Hyannis. He says, ‘Oh, you have to stay the night! I’m so happy to see you, I’m so happy to have company.’

Then he says, ‘Stay here. Make yourselves at home. You can look around the house. I’ve got a lot of interesting artifacts and things here. Make yourself at home. I’m going to go out and get some lobsters, and we can have a big lobster dinner tonight.’

He leaves, and they’re sitting there. They hadn’t been to his house before, so they started looking around. It’s all very interesting, he’s got a lot of interesting stuff like he’d said, he seems like an interesting old guy, and down at the end of the hall, there’s a door to a room that’s closed.

They think it’s odd; all the other rooms are open, and the doors are open, but this one room is closed, and they try the door, and it’s locked. It’s totally locked. And they think, ‘That’s strange that he would have a locked room inside his own house when he doesn’t have many visitors.’

Then from inside that room, they hear a voice. Sort of a scratchy, hoarse voice. It says, ‘Please, can you let me out? Please. Please, can anyone hear me? Can you hear me? Can you let me out? Please.’

That’s the prompt.”—R.L. Stine


You can watch R.L. Stine’s portrayal of the story starter here:




There Is Something Strange About My Brain by R.L. StinePick Up Your Copy of There Is Something Strange About My Brain Here

There Is Something Strange About My Brain: Writing Horror for Kids

Written by R.L. Stine

Erudition (October 31, 2023), 204 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1955690539


The story of R.L. Stine—just a “regular guy” who found his skill, got some luck, and became the famous writer he is today. Achievable, relatable, and more inspiring to new writers than the “You’ll never make it in this town, kid” stories we hear so often. He reflects on what being a writer means to him and how he’s learned a lot but ultimately has stuck to his trusty style and process.

Buy the Book




R.L. StineR.L. STINE is one of the best-selling children’s authors in history. Goosebumps, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, has more than 400 million books in print in 32 languages. An all-new Goosebumps series, House of Shivers, debuted in September 2023. The Goosebumps series made R.L. Stine a worldwide publishing celebrity (and Jeopardy answer). His other popular children’s book series include Fear Street (recently revived as a feature film trilogy), The Garbage Pail Kids, Mostly Ghostly, The Nightmare Room, and Rotten School.

The Goosebumps TV series was the number-one children’s show in America for three years. The episodes can still be seen on Netflix. More recently, R.L.’s anthology TV series, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, won the Emmy Award three years in a row as Best Children’s Show. His newest Disney+ TV series is Just Beyond, based on his graphic novels for BOOM! Studios. Two Goosebumps feature films starring Jack Black as R.L. Stine were released in 2015 and 2018. The first film became the #1 film in America. The Fear Street movies all reached #1 on Netflix.

RL. Stine lives in New York City with his wife Jane, an editor and publisher. You can connect with him on Twitter @RL_Stine, as well as on Instagram and Facebook. For more information, visit

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You will not be charged extra, but a portion of your purchase will help support Lit Shark’s causes in inclusive and accessible literature and writing resources, as well as our growing movement in conversation education, rescue, and revitalization.

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Written By McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan (she/her/hers) lives and writes in Europe with her family (originally from the Midwest). In addition to being the Editor-in-Chief of Lit Shark Magazine and the Banned Book Review, she is a novelist, poet, and book reviewer. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University and her BA in English/BS in Education from Indiana University South Bend, where she began her work in publishing. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, Young Ravens Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Encore Magazine, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Green Mountains Review, Memoir Mixtapes, The Life Collective, Her Journal, Motherly, and more. When not writing, she enjoys reading, appreciating nature, and spending time with her husband and three children.




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