Every year the LA Times puts on the festival of books, which is AWESOME. There are a ton of panels, a ton of signings, and just a ton of things to do for people of all ages and interests. Last year was my first year attending and it will definitely be an annual event for me.
I'm going to write a few posts about it this week, because it is so amazing, but RL Stine deserves his own post, because A) he is hilarious on twitter and B) I learned a lot during the 15 minutes he spoke. RL Stine's talk was at the Target kid's stage and he did a sort of interactive, choose your own adventure story. I kept being struck by how beautifully the presentation illustrated how a writer sets up a story.
So we have this ghost story set up... there's a ghost in the barn and he wants a head, so don't go in the barn. And the main character doesn't believe that the ghost story is true, so does he go into the barn or does he just ignore it? Obviously, he goes into the barn. At least he does if you want a ghost story (I think RL even made a joke along those lines after the vote came in that the main character should go into the barn). So... you need your character to make a choice to start the story, react to whatever the inciting incident is.
Later, the boy is facing the ghost who wants his head and the boy has two objects on the floor. One is a book called "How to Keep Your Head" and the other is a quarter. Which does he use? Obviously the book.... which says "Use the quarter". This was hilarious, but also illustrated that if your character is going to use something out of the ordinary to defeat the antagonist... you have to exhaust all your obvious options first to make it believable.
I was excited to see a writer who made an impact on me as a fourth grader with Goosebumps and still stays relevant in my life through twitter (where he posts some of the most morbidly hilarious news I have ever read). I didn't expect to have such a great reminder of how to tell a story.