Cell Phones Have Ruined Everything: The 5 Things I learned from R.L. Stine



Good morning, my dear readers!

I was thrilled to note the lovely writers over at Buzzfeed recently hosted an interview with R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series.

I read nearly every book of the old Goosebumps series when I was a kid, so I was thrilled to note that not only is he still writing at age 70, but a Goosebumps movie is scheduled for release this August!

With that in mind, here are a few things I learned from the YA scare master himself in his recent interview:

1. Life can take you on entirely different-than-planned paths.

“So I always say when I talk to young people and talk to people in school, you can’t really plan your life because things don’t just work out the way you think. You always end up somewhere else. …I never planned to write scary stuff ever. I liked it when I was a kid, but I always wanted to be funny.”

2. Author ideas evolve in unusual ways (I might have to keep this one in mind).

“I kind of work backwards from most authors, and my trick is to think of a title, not an idea. A year ago I was walking my dog in Riverside Park and these words flashed into my head: Little Shop of Hamsters. It’s a great title, right? So then I think, Well how do you make a hamster scary? This was the challenge: Do you have maybe a thousand hamsters somewhere, or do you have a giant hamster? And it sort of leads me to the story; it’s what happens almost all the time.”

3. There are ways to make even “cookie-cutter” characters work for you.

“I’m always criticized for not doing much characterization. One of my editors said that I’m great with full-blown, cardboard characters; that’s my real talent. But you want the reader to think they’re the protagonist, so I don’t do much in the way of description so the reader will assume that it’s them in this situation.”

4. As culture and technology evolve, so, too, must stories, for better or worse.

“You know, cell phones have ruined everything. They’ve ruined every plot, seriously. You used to have this plot where the girl is getting these frightening phone calls and she’s trying to figure out who’s calling her. You can’t do that story anymore [because the name is] right there on the phone. In the first new Fear Street novel, Party Games…they arrive on this island, they’re all invited to a birthday party, and the guy who’s giving the party collects all the phones and said, “We’re not going to have phones this weekend.” I had him collect all the phones to get them out of the way so they couldn’t just call for help, because now you can just call for help. So you have to find some way around it now.

5. If you love writing, no matter how old you get, keep going.

“I still love [writing], I enjoy it. This is what I’ve done since I was 9 years old. I was a weird, weird kid. I would be in my room typing and I don’t know why, but I still enjoy it. It’s so much fun for me. Someone once asked me, “What’s the worst advice you ever got?” and I thought back and I remembered my mother. I’d be in my room typing and she said, “Stop all that typing and go outside and play.” That’s the worst advice I ever got.”

Read the entire interview here. If you’re a big R.L. Stine fan, you can also check out this article.

Who are your favourite authors? What’s the best bit of advice they ever gave? Discuss in the comments below! 

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam



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