Friday, May 14, 2010

YA Writing Tips

Hey aces :) I wanted to share with you another article from the Writer magazine that I read this past week. I usually don't get a whole lot of info from the Writer that I can use myself, but this past issue seemed like it was catered to me!

There is an article written by Nora Raleigh Baskin where she spells out six tips for writing young adult (YA) novels. Nora is a Middle Grade/YA author who also teaches at Gotham Writers' Workshop. Some of her books include, Anything but Typical about a 12 year old autistic boy, and All We Know of Love about a girl who's mother walks out on her and she goes on a journey to find her.

If you are a not a subscriber to the Writer magazine, and you still want some inside info, check out my blog from time to time b/c when I find really cool articles I will definitely share with my fellow writers!

Without further adieu here is what Ms. Baskin says about writing YA novels:

  1. Get your POV right- the perspective needs to be immediate. The teenager will not relate to an adult looking back as much as they would relate to the here and now.
  2. Make sure the character's age suits the audience- middle grade novels should deal with kids in middle school, while young-adult novels should deal with high-school aged characters. Baskin says that most high school students read adult books too, so the real audience is somewhere between 7th and 10th grade. Your character needs to learn, grow, an change during the course of the novel
  3. If your figure out the voice, the language will come- while writing the first draft, figure out what kind of voice you want your character to have and the sentence structure, vocabulary, and even plot structure will follow.
  4. Don't shy away from touchy subjects- As a general rule middle-grade fiction does not actively involve sex and drugs, but YA can be on pretty much any topic. They are no bounds-sexuality, homosexuality, abuse, drunk driving, incest, or rape are all topics that are considered "acceptable" for YA fiction. ( I find this slightly debatable- I think some people still shy away from some of these topics).
  5. Don't get preachy-No one wants to be taught a lesson while reading fiction (unless it's a fable or something) Writers don't need to answer the questions- we should raise them.
  6. Write hopeful endings- Most YA novels leave readers with at least a glimmer of hope. Don't drill in lessons or give warnings, but allow for possibility.
At the end of the article there are helpful links and here are some of them you should check out:

Young Adult Library Services Association

Interview, Podcasts with YA authors and agents

Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (which I am a member of and I am attending the LA conference this summer! YEAH!)

I hope this helped you if you are writing YA or Middle Grade- and as I said, these are mainly Nora Baskin's words/tips- however, I agree with most if not all of them. What do you think about her tips? Would you change any of them?


  1. LOVE the last tip! :D Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow, great tips! I especially love the one about not shying away from touchy topics. I'm so over people giving me nasty looks because I'm writing about gay teens. Hello? They exist!

  3. Pam- Yeah, I thought about you when I typed that. It's a shame isn't it? And Blue Lipstick, I know, I love that tip too!

  4. LOL @ Pam! And I love Writer's Mag! Also, are you really going to LA for a Conference? That's Awesome! This was a helpful post. You and Pam would be proud because...I'm researching the YA market! Just kind of exploring and feeling it out. And I'm still waiting on that list from :)

  5. Aw, I am proud of you-I think you will like it. And yeah, me and Pam are both going to LA for about three days for a children's writers and illustrators conference- should be exciting!