Apr 29, 2010

Y is for Young Adult Fiction

YA fiction is HOT. Probably because it's not a restricted market. Teens like teen books, and so do adults, even the more advanced young readers like YA. YA fiction can be written in any genre; Fantasy, Sci-fi, Romance, Mystery, Adventure, etc and etc. 

What does a good YA book need?
  • A character the reader can relate to. Protagonists are generally between 12-18 (but you can stray from this) and experience some of the same daily problems faced by the reader, struggling with schoolwork, fighting with friends, crushes, etc. This does not mean boring! Perhaps the school they go to is for wizards or the setting of their first kiss is a village surrounded by a fence to keep out the zombies. Make sure you have a believable voice for your character. I recently read an action story about a 15yr old boy who talked about climbing into the hospital bed with his dying father and putting his head on his chest - this scene was a complete dichotomy to my understanding of the character and didn't work for me at all.
  • A significant problem for the protagonist. This will drive the conflict. There needs to be something for your character to overcome. It may be a puzzle to be solved (like a murder) or feelings to overcome (being in love with your sister's boyfriend) or perhaps they simply need to stay alive (because evil scientists are harvesting teen organs). A small tiff with their best friend is not enough, unless it leads to a bigger, life-threatening problem, a 'me against the world' situation.
  • A non-judgemental voice. Yes teen pregnancy is a good edgy topic for a novel. No, we do not want to encourage a bunch of teens to rush out and get pregnant. BUT. If you are writing from the teen perspective, you have to be honest about their feelings, you have to be truthful about describing the rush of endorphins experienced with a first kiss, and the desire to take things further. You can't just skip straight to the consequences, otherwise you'll be like the coach in Mean Girls, "Don't have sex because you'll get pregnant and die." 
  • Desire. Like in all fiction, the protagonist must want something. Teens know about wanting. They want lots of things they can't have due to their age, lack of independence, or not enough pocket money. Create a goal that the significant problem will block.
If you can have a believable protagonist, a significant conflict, refrain from preaching morals and give characters goals, then you're well on your way to satisfying the YA market.

Need more resources for writing YA?
For more links:
For Reviews on YA fiction:

For Books:
There's a few on the sidebar for Amazon, today I'm reading (on my new Kindle!!!!):


  1. Thank you; I just finished, "Fat Cat" a YA and was thinking perhaps, this would be a genre I could for. Great info! I will check out this book!

  2. Great info! This is really awesome! Thanks!

  3. I'll have to look into one of these kindles I keep reading about!! :o)

  4. Great post - and since this is a genre I like, I'll be looking into those links :)

  5. Finally finished the book 'Wild Ink'- it was okay, lots of Q & A with writers. The book was motivating and did cover queries and publishing information, but I would have preferred more on the actual craft of writing for Young Adults.