Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal

9781402247743_p0_v1_s260x420“‘Harry Potter’ opened so many doors for young adult literature. It really did convince the publishing industry that writing for children was a viable enterprise. And it also convinced a lot of people that kids will read if we give them books that they care about and love.” – Rick Riordan

Young-adult fiction, commonly called “YA fiction,” has exploded over the past decade or so: The number of YA titles published grew more than 120 percent between 2002 and 2012, and other estimates say that between 1997 and 2009, that figure was closer to 900 percent, according to an article by Nolan Feeney. “Ask a handful of young-adult fiction writers what exactly makes a YA novel, though, and you’ll get a handful of conflicting answers.”

From a top young adult literary agent, the only guide on how to write for young adults:

With an 87 percent increase in the number of titles published in the last two years, the young adult market is one of the healthiest segments in the industry. Despite this, little has been written to help authors hone their craft to truly connect with this audience. Writing Great Books for Young Adults gives writers the advice they need to tap this incredible market.

Topics covered include: Listening to the voices of youth; Meeting your young protagonist; Developing a writing style; Constructing plots; and Trying on points of view.

Agent Regina Brooks has developed award-winning authors across the YA genre, including a Coretta Scott King winner. She attends more than 20 conferences each year, meeting with authors and teaching.

Feeney continues:

At their core, YA books are for and about teenagers and pre-teens, usually between 12 and 18 years old, but sometimes as young as 10. Yet more than half of all YA novels sold are bought by older adults 18 or older, and certain titles published in the U.S. as YA are considered mainstream fiction for adults in other countries. Some authors believe the intent to write for young readers is a prerequisite of YA fiction; others don’t even realize their books will be labeled as YA until after they finish writing.

Many successful authors say there’s no secret to writing for teenagers. Good writing is good writing; believable characters and compelling plots are crucial regardless of who’s picking up the book. But many YA authors will also tell you there’s something particularly fulfilling and rewarding about writing for teenagers, who often respond to stories they identify with more intensely and gratefully than adult readers do. I asked eight writers and editors how they create characters and stories that feel real to teenagers, even when their world—and the world of the YA books they read—can feel like another planet. Below are eight of their most successful strategies.

Finally, take a look at this EXCERPT From an article WHAT MAKES A MEMORABLE NOVEL?

 Characters.  Does the reader even care enough about them to finish the book to see what happens to them? Is the plot appropriate for the characters? What about their dialogue? Is their dialogue compatible with who they are and where they came from? Or is it tortured and way too proper for them? Many of us were taught “proper English,” but the more I write the more I realize if it’s appropriate for a character to use English that’s not proper, then that’s as it should be.I was taught not to start a sentence with “and” or “but” and never use “was because.” But that’s how we often speak and characters would too, so more and more I’m using them.  I’m just a few weeks away from publishing Tea Party Teddy, a tell-all California political novel.  There are some tough gangster characters in it. Would they use the same dialogue that Teddy, a legislator, would use? Of course not. Characters and their dialogue have to be believable.

Setting. Does the setting fit in with the plot and the characters? A Beverly Hills Barbie is probably not going to be very believeable in the jungles of the Amazon in her Jimmy Choo shoes unless there’s been a reason for her to go there. And is the setting believeable as well? Today there’s no excuse for not making a setting believable. It’s all a click away on the Internet. I recall when I was writing Blue Coyote Motel I spent a lot of time looking at maps of various cities to get my streets, directions, hotels, etc. correct. It’s easy. Recently I read a book by a very well-known author and there was a huge error on the first page of the book. The airport given was not correct for the city. I know, because I fly in and out of that airport a lot. In today’s world that’s simply  inexcusable and that’s the kind of  stuff that makes a reader put the book down. If the author doesn’t care enough (or the editor) to make sure that what is written is correct, why would I want to continue with the book?

The Little Things. Attention to detail is huge in a novel. If the protagonist is going to fly from Paris to Los Angeles, the author better make sure that flying time, time zones and extra time for Customs, Immigration, etc. have all been properly accounted for. How often have you read something and the character would have to have been beamed from one place to another to make the times given doable? If one of the characters has brown hair early on in the book, unless there’s been a given reason for it to be another color at the end of the book, it better still be brown.

“A lot of people have no idea that right now Y.A. (young adult). is the Garden of Eden of literature.” – Sherman Alexie


Do you love books? Do you want to get published?
Like Michael Strickland, Publishing Consultant, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/youpublish

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