Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies
by Deborah Halverson
author, editor, & founder of DearEditor.com
A hands-on, friendly guide to writing young adult fiction
With young adult book sales rising and bestselling authors exploding onto the scene, aspiring YA writers are more numerous than ever. Are you interested in writing a young adult novel, but aren’t sure how it fits the style that appeals to young readers? WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES gives you tricks of the trade and proven tips on all the steps of writing a YA novel, from developing an idea to publication.
- tips for targeting an audience, finding an angle that’ll make the story stand out, and writing a killer hook
- an extensive chapter on self-marketing to help writers move boldly into the realm of self-promotion
- techniques and exercises to shape plot, create teen-friendly characters, develop a convincingly youthful voice, write natural dialogue, and use setting to illuminate characters and plot
- 13 National Book Award winners and finalists, Newbery medalists and honorees, and other award-winning luminaries sharing their insights in sidebars
- self-editing tools to transform a first draft into a strong submission-ready final draft
- insider tips for finding the right agent and/or editor and preparing a stand-out submission package
- answers to common book contract questions
- advice on self-publishing for YA writers
With the help of this step-by-step guide, you’ll have all the skills to write an inspiring and marketable young adult novel.
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Collaborators: Deborah is honored to include the voices of 13 award-winning YA novelists, agents, and editors in sidebars throughout Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies…
M.T. Anderson writes the heart-tugging foreword for Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies. Anderson is a National Book Award Winner and Finalist, an L.A. Times Book Prize Winner, and a two-time Michael L. Printz Honor Book Author. His books cross genres and engage audiences of every age. For more about M.T. Anderson and his wonderful books, visit his website www.mt-anderson.com.
Karen Cushman has created some of the most memorable characters in young adult fiction, including Alyce from the Newbery Medal Book The Midwife’s Apprentice, Catherine from the Newbery Honor Book Catherine, Called Birdy, California Morning Whipple from The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, Meggy from Alchemy and Meggy Swann, Will Sparrow from Will Sparrow’s Road and the stars of Matilda Bone and Rodzina. In Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, Karen shares how she dreams up characters—and then lets them loose to do their own thing. www.Karen Cushman.com
Cynthia Leitich Smithknows a thing or two about writing paranormal fantasy that’s compelling, timeless, and surprising: she’s the best-selling author of the YA gothics Eternal, Tantalize, and Blessed, and she recently signed a three-book YA novel deal with Candlewick Press; the first book will be Smolder. Cynthia has also written numerous award-winning books for young children and is a faculty member at the Vermont College M.F.A. program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her “Cynsations” blog is one of the top sites read by the children’s/YA publishing community. www.CynthiaLeitichSmith.com
Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century. She’s the author of more than 300 books for young readers and adults, including fantasy and science fiction novels, historical novels, poetry, and children’s books. Her books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award, among many others. Can you think of more proven writer to tell you how to infuse each of your stories with a unique narrative voice? I couldn’t—so I asked Jane to do just that in Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies. www.JaneYolen.com
Jennifer Donnelly is the author of several award-winning novels for adults and young readers, including the Carnegie Medal Winner and Michael L. Printz Honor Book A Northern Light and the genre-melding historical drama Revolution. When School Library Journal called Revolution “a sumptuous feast of a novel, rich in mood, character, and emotion,” they were right on. Jennifer’s novels always capture the feeling of a place and time, allowing readers to see, taste, smell, hear, and feel the story along with the characters. In Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, Jennifer shares just how she does that. www.JenniferDonnelly.com
Deborah Wilesis known for writing dialogue that captures character as well as the flavor of a time and place. She is the author of the National Book Award Finalist Each Little Bird That Sing, Countdown (book one of “The Sixties Trilogy: Three Novels of the 1960s for Young Readers”), and other novels and picture books for young readers. Deborah talks about using dialogue to express both emotion and action in Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies. www.DeborahWiles.com
Gary Sotoknows how to structure a plot that keeps readers turning pages, and he shares that knowledge in Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies. Gary is the author of many much-loved middle grade and young adult novels, short stories, plays, and poetry collections, including Accidental Love, The Afterlife, Mercy on These Teenage Chimps, and the acclaimed Baseball in April and Other Stories. His YA short story collection Hey 13! is coming out in October, and his first e-novel, When Dad Came Back, is due from the University Press of New England in the fall. For more of Gary’s insights, read his feature in the Atlantic, in which he talks about his amazing relationship with the editor who has marked up his poems since 1974. www.GarySoto.com
Kathi Appelt had published over 20 award-winning books for kids, but she wanted to write a novel for middle graders. Only, it wasn’t working. Draft after draft, idea after idea, she kept abandoning lackluster manuscripts only partly completed. She couldn’t get herself to care about her characters, and if she didn’t care, why would readers? Then it hit her: she was missing tension in her stories. That epiphany led to her debut middle-grade novel The Underneath, which went on to become a National Book Award Finalist. Her second novel, The Keeper, has earned multiple awards. Kathi shares her insights about raising the stakes for characters in Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies. www.KathiAppelt.com
Mary E. Pearson may have six award-winning teen novels, but she isn’t immune to writer’s block. (Is there a writer who is?). Luckily, Mary has figured out ways to keep writing—and she shares them in Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies. Pearson’s newest adventure in her exciting Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Fox Inheritance, will be in stores August 2011. www.MaryPearson.com
Darcy Pattison is an award-winning children’s book author, writing teacher, and popular speaker on writing techniques. She runs “Fiction Notes,” a popular blog on writing, and is widely known for her Novel Revision Retreat and her book The Book Trailer Manual (www.thebooktrailermanual.com). In Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, Darcy shares three ways to create a successful book trailer that leaves room for your readers’ imaginations even as it promotes your book. www.darcypattison.com
Jean Ferris has written more than a dozen acclaimed novels for teens, including quirky middle grade stories like Once Upon a Marigold and serious YA fare such as the powerful Eight Seconds. In Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, Jean shares two crucial pieces of advice that she heard early in writing career and which have helped her inject conflict and passion into her plots ever since. www.JeanFerris.com
Kate Harrison has worked in children’s books publishing for more than eleven years and is currently a senior editor at Dial Books for Young Readers. She’s edited both debut authors and bestselling, award-winning veterans, so she knows all about the author-editor relationship. In Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, Kate offers a behind-the-scenes look at what happens after you sign your book contract and ways to make the revision process with your editor both productive and enjoyable.
Agent Erin Murphy has a good bead on the qualities that editors, readers, and the marketplace want in a young adult book—and “quiet” isn’t one of them. In Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, Erin shares tips for making quiet books loud. Erin is the founder of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, a leading U.S. children’s book agency representing writers and writer-illustrators of picture books, novels for middle-graders and young adults, and select nonfiction. Thanks to her early editorial career (she eventually became the editor-in-chief at Northland Publishing/Rising Moon Books for Young Readers), Erin brings an editor’s eye to her agenting. http://emliterary.com