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How to Write a Young Adult Novel

Young adult reading

Young adult fiction is one of the most rapidly expanding and exciting categories in which you you can write and publish. Although many people think young adult novels are only written for teenagers, they have a much broader audience and appeal. While engaging a young adult audience can be a challenge, you can make your novel a success by avoiding common mistakes, planning your novel carefully, and adapting your writing style.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Ditch the idea that young adult is a genre.

Although bookstores and publishers use the phrase young adult as a marketing category, it is not necessarily a genre. A young adult novel could represent any genre such as science fiction, mystery, horror, romance, historical fiction, or fantasy. This is one aspect of writing young adult fiction that many authors find appealing. You are not restricted to one specific genre, and instead can write books in different genres or books that cross genres.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that young adult novels are easier to write.

Writing any type of book requires hard work, and young adult novels are no exception. Many writers have also reported that these books can be more challenging to write because young adults can be picky readers and are looking for very authentic and original stories.

Stop dumbing down your writing.

Unfortunately, some people believe that young adults novels are watered down or dumbed down versions of adult fiction. Just because the protagonist in the novel is a young adult does not mean you should feel like you are writing for children.

Young adult novels are usually told from a more casual, first-person, present-tense perspective. The protagonist or main character is typically revealing or sharing personal details about his or her life.

Your prose and the quality of your writing should be engaging, your readers don't want something simplistic. Young adults want to be treated like adults and you may alienate your audience if you use writing that is too simple or childish.

Also, remember that many adults read and enjoy books that fall in the young adult category. Think about how many adults read series such as Harry Potter or the Hunger Games. If your writing and content are too basic and elementary, you will lose this group as potential readers.

Tackle dark, serious, or edgy topics.

Many people mistakenly assume that young adult novels should be light and breezy, with no exploration of difficult subject matter. Successful young adult authors, however, are ones willing to address and examine how serious issues in our society affect young adults. These topics may include, but are not limited to: abuse, sex, gender identity, drugs, rape, incest, suicide, racism, discrimination, violence, and genocide.

Don't just make things up.

While creativity is encouraged in young adult fiction, don't assume you can make things up and get away with it. If you are talking about or referring to real people, places, events, or products, you need to do your homework. Young adults are savvy readers and can easily sniff out uninformed and inaccurate descriptions, opinions, and details. For example, if you are writing a book that talks about video game culture, get the details about the games and the culture of this community right.

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