1. The story should take place at night and somewhere away from home. "You don't have the safety of going into your room if something bad's happening," says Stine.
2. Develop the story very slowly. "I would start with a group of kids off somewhere," says Stine. "Then something strange happens. Then they start to hear strange noises. And then somebody sees something." Stine emphasizes the importance of sensory details like smells and sounds to help build suspense.
3. Come up with a big surprise at the end — and don't be afraid to add a loud yell to maximize fright. Just don't ask Stine for too many tips on working the crowd: "I never went to camp. I hate outdoors."
Images: Dean MacAdam (illustration), Scholastic (cover)