Dictionary.com, the leading online and mobile English-language educational resource, is welcoming audiences to its third annual Halloween writing contest—Haunting Hooks: Haunted House Edition. This year, the winning entry will be selected by guest judge R.L. Stine, one of the best-selling children’s authors in history. 

R.L. Stine guest judge for dictionary.com Halloween writing contest

R.L. Stine-Worthy Halloween Short Stories

Contestants are challenged to write a captivating opening to a scary story in 50 words or less. Original submissions will be accepted through Friday, October 13. The winning entry will be announced on Tuesday, October 31, across Dictionary.com’s site and socials (@Dictionarycom). For full rules and regulations, click here.

The writing contest offers a chance to win prizes, including a signed copy of the first book in R.L. Stine’s new Goosebumps series from Scholastic, House of Shivers, Dictionary.com swag, and the ultimate bragging rights, of course! 


“Dictionary.com’s Haunting Hooks contest elevates our mission to inspire and celebrate creativity in a world powered by words,” said John Kelly, vice president of Editorial at Dictionary.com. “Who better to help us select the most haunting hook than the incomparable R.L. Stine?”

The theme of this year’s Haunting Hooks is the haunted house. Writers can set the start of their story inside the devious dwelling, approaching its eerie exterior or at its menacing entrance—as long as it’s a spooky beginning to a haunted house story that instantly haunts and hooks!

“How wonderful to be involved in Dictionary.com’s Haunting Hooks writing contest. I certainly appreciate the wild and weird world of words, and look forward to choosing the entry that delights—and scares!—me the most,” said Stine.

Last year’s contest featured a scary sci-fi story theme and received more than 5,000 submissions. For more information on Haunting Hooks, visit https://contest.dictionary.com/haunting-hooks-2023/.


R.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.

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