Writing Young Adult Fiction

Writing YA, or, Developing Ideas for the Teen Market


In this  workshop, I help writers explore Young Adult fiction and help them develop their ideas for a what makes a successful teen novel. Having a strong concept and a unique voice in your novel excites readers as well as publishers. In groups and as individuals, we hone some of the key elements behind a great teenage book concept and explore what makes a great idea, a strong character and how to capture that elusive "voice" to win over readers (and editors). 

Some great links to explore:


Marcus Sedgwick: 'There is almost nothing you can't tackle in a teenage novel' in the Guardian.


Garth Nix: 'A young adult novel (to my mind) is essentially an adult novel that will appeal particularly to teenagers' on his website (included in a great guide to how one of my favourite writers works his magic!).


Galley Cat: "[G]ood Y.A. is like good television.There's a freshness there; it's engaging. Y.A. authors aren't writing about middle-aged anomie or ­disappointed people.'" Great sets of links in the short article about why adults should be reading YA.


Scot Smith: "Let us celebrate the innovative fashion in which today’s YA authors are bending the traditional definitions of genre." In his article, in the Alan Review, Why the Best YA Fiction Often Defies Classification.


Tips to take your Young Adult idea further:

  1. Write the first draft down quickly - then revise, rewrite, redraft and revision again.
  2. Join a critique group for YA or children's fiction
  3. Read, read, read - devour as many YA novels as you can. Compare them with fiction for younger readers and for adults - what makes it YA?
  4. For what to read - subscribe to Carousel, or another specialist children's book magazine, and raid the bookshelves of your nearest bookshop.
  5. Join SCBWI - and get in touch with other YA writers, or join your local critique group.
  6. Be aware of mainstream teenage culture - what are they watching, reading, playing and doing? Every generation tries to reinvent itself, what is the current generation up to? How do they view the world?

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