Monday, November 03, 2008

R. L. Stine 'N Me

R.L. Stine is announcing a new line of books for young readers through Scholastic Books called "Goosebumps HorrorLand."


I don't know this because I follow his career closely, but because of an interview on National Public Radio.

And I don't know that because I listen to NPR with great regularity, but because a family member heard the program and called me, and told me to find the transcript on the Internet, because there was something in it that would really interest me. So I did. And immediately, I understood why. Here is a paragraph from that transcript:

Stine's writing process is a little different from most authors; he says he begins with the title and figures out the rest from there. If he can't think of a title for a story he has in mind, he says,"I just throw away the idea."

OMG--that's me! That's how I work!

As Kelly can vouch, for me, the title comes first. Then I try to create the story that the title "tells me." For instance, I came up with the title, The ABC's of Kissing Boys, while watching a local Christmas parade.

Later, I e-mailed her. She thought it would fly, and then I had to try to figure out WHY a girl needed to learn about kissing, what she had to gain, and just as importantly, what she had to lose. I went through many plot variations, characters and opening chapters until it finally felt "right." (That book sold and hits shelves on January 13th.)

Conversely, like Mr. Stine, I have had sudden scenarios strike me that I simply couldn't bring to life without a good title.

So yeah...huh...R. L. Stine and me!

I couldn't be more thrilled to be in the esteemed company of one of the Young Adult world's most prolific and successful authors. Now if only I had as many ideas and could write as fast...

10 fresh comments:

Janie Emaus said...

Tina,
R.L. Stine and I go way back!

His books do have great titles, but in my opinion your books have better plots.

Janie

TinaFerraro said...

LOL--thanks, Janie! My sons amassed quite a collection of Goosebumps and Fear Streets, so I've read a number of them myself, two of which, in particular, I really enjoyed.

C. Leigh Purtill said...

That is a fascinating writing process, Tina! I never even considered doing something like that. I do think titles mean a lot but having had both of mine changed dramatically by the publisher, I don't cling to them too much anymore. :)

Kelly Parra said...

My son LOVES Stine, so this should be great! And Tina, you are a pro at titles. I love your technique of finding the title first then building the story, as you know I sometimes come up with title during mid book because I'm awful at them. haha!

TinaFerraro said...

Leigh, I worry every time that my title will get changed, but so far, so good.

Kelly, the way I look at it, it's like that Oreo commercial: "There's no wrong way to eat an Oreo." Starting with the title is just what works for me!

Sara Hantz said...

I have to get a title.... I don't start with it, but I can't settle to write a book if I don't have a title that works for me.

Mitch Wallace said...

Title-to-story is an interesting approach. I might try that sometime, but for the two novels I've written thus far, I didn't start with a title at all. Just a basic idea, and then the title emerged from the story.

Now I'll be brainstorming all day for cool titles!

Oh, and I used to be a complete Goosebumps fanatic back in grade school. Since I've started writing seriously I've gone back and watched interviews with R.L. Stine, and it's fascinating to hear him talk about his processes. Apparently he was churning out one complete Goosebumps book a month back when the series was in its heyday. Incredible!

stephhale said...

I have always been this way too, Tina. But now I have an idea for an adult novel and NO TITLE. And it has to be a good one. Sigh! :)

TinaFerraro said...

Okay, Sara, so you don't exactly start with the title, but it comes soon, huh?

Mitch, thanks for weighing in. And you know, it's fun to randomly brainstorm for titles. I do it all the time...

Steph, you have great titles, so I'm not surprised you've worked this way, too. Nudge me if you ever want to play Name My Book...

TinaFerraro said...

P.S. to Sara--meant to add I love your titles, too. I mean, it doesn't get much better than The Second Virginity of Suzy Green!