Expert Tips for Writing a Great Young Adult Book

The young adult (YA) genre has become incredibly popular in recent years, with certain YA novels becoming international bestsellers. However, people sometimes think that because those books are geared towards a younger audience, they are easier to write. This isn’t true. There are challenges when writing YA novels that are no less significant than in any other kind of novel. That said, there are some tips that can help you write a great YA book, that you might be interested in.

1. Don’t Focus On Moral Lessons

It’s great if your story has an underlining moral lesson. However, focusing too much on it, and putting it at the center of attention will put off your audience because it will sound too preachy. Because YA novels are so popular nowadays, there are plenty of ya publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts – which is a great opportunity for new authors. You don’t want to miss out on that just because you put the moral lessons at the forefront of your work and in doing so, enabled them to inhibit the natural flow of the story. If there is a message you think is important to your readers, just like when describing characters and places – it’s always better to show instead of tell. Create a plotline that will implicitly reaffirm the moral lesson, but don’t go out of your way to make it the main focus.

2. Use Punctuation To Create Atmosphere

As a general rule, younger people prefer shorter sentences. It’s more reminiscent of the way they talk with one another through texts and different apps. Apart from that, you can use punctuation to build suspense, and set the atmosphere. If you find that there’s a sentence that could be separated either by a comma or a full stop – use the full stop. Knowing exactly what different punctuation marks are used for, how they are perceived, and what effect they have on the way a work is read, can be a great tool to use when you’re writing a novel. It also makes sense to use commas, full stops, and dashes strategically if you’re going for a stream of consciousness type of writing. On the other hand, brackets and semicolons can take away from the reading experience because it’s not always clear how to read a sentence containing them.

3. Create Relatable Characters

In most YA novels, the characters are between the ages of 14-19 – depending on your target audience. However, there’s more to think about than just age when it comes to creating relatable characters for your book. They need to be flawed but not beyond hope. They need to have a certain depth that will pull in the reader and make them want to know more about your character – this is where you put your talent on show. Allowing them to grow and develop as the story unfolds, while still remaining true to their core self is what you’ll want to aim for. Well-rounded characters are always better than those that are one-dimensional and flat, who only serve a purpose within the context of your story. You don’t want your characters to act in a certain way simply to move the plot forward – it has to be organic to who you made them out to be.

4. Make It Dystopian

There are different types of genres that younger audiences tend to prefer. One of the most popular ones is a dystopian novel. A dystopian world is a place where things are the complete opposite of our reality – there’s more technology than in real life, while some aspects of society can be somewhat behind (such as medicine or even entertainment). It allows the reader to distance themselves from the real world and enables them to immerse fully into the one you created for them. Dystopian novels can take many forms – they might be post-apocalyptic, or perhaps just set in the future which means that technology is advanced enough to actually alter how living is done.

5. Explore Different Emotions

The audience you’re writing for is experiencing a lot of firsts. They’re figuring out who they are, what their place in the world is. Because of this – they look for books that allow them to experience different emotions that they may not yet know how to handle fully. You can write about grief and pain but also excitement, love, friendship, and bravery. Teens usually experience things more intensely than adults simply because they don’t have the life experience needed to be more nonchalant. Creating characters that feel deeply, intensely, and don’t always know how to handle those emotions the right way is going to go a long way not only in terms of relatability but also in showing that they’re not alone in feeling this way.

6. Perspective

Usually, YA novels are told from the perspective of the protagonists. The readers are privy to all of their thoughts and feelings, which helps them connect with the character even more. However, if you decide to use this kind of storytelling as well, it’s important that you make the protagonist sound authentic. They need to think and act in a way that a person of their age and life experience most likely would. That means that you have to try and make your voice as quiet as possible when writing the story. You don’t want the reader to be able to discern where the author is forcing his or her outlook, and where the protagonist is really coming from. The protagonist’s thoughts should be their own and sound like it, not like they were spoken by an adult in teenage slang.

7. Don’t Be Afraid Of Heavy Topics

Much like with exploring complex emotions, you shouldn’t feel like you have to stay clear of heavy topics. The book you’re writing is for young adults – that means that they are most likely either experiencing something similar to what you’re going to write about or at the very least, the idea of it is not new to them. Keeping the story too clean of anything dark will quickly make it uninteresting to your readers who are looking for books that speak to them, not down to them. It’s hard to think of a topic that wouldn’t be suitable for a YA novel in one form or another, so if you feel like it’s the natural way to plot is headed – don’t censor yourself. That said, you shouldn’t bring up heavy topics just for the shock value alone. Just like anything else, they need to be a part of your story for a reason in order to make it believable.  

Young adult novels are as complex as any other novel. In order to create a believable protagonist and an exciting story, you have to make sure to spend time developing the plot and what happens in it. You also need to do research, study various genres that would fit your idea, and remember that teens usually react strongly to things – so creating characters that act like that is important. Writing young adult fiction can be difficult, but by focusing on who you’re writing for and how to incorporate certain tropes, an interesting story is bound to come out of it!

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