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