How Do You Write YA?

ya blog

I found some young ones. So cute. 🙂

Without a doubt, YA (young adult) is a very hot genre to write. It’s been around for a while, although there was a turning point in 2008 when it truly exploded. A number of writers tried their hand at it. Some found YA was for them, and others discovered writing this genre is tougher than it looks. Although, YA isn’t about to slow down anytime soon. Readers of YA are committed. They’re always after more, and for writers of this genre, we’re here to deliver.

Now, what makes YA so popular?

Those teen years we go through, are an incredible time. They’re exciting, fun, awful, painful, scary, amazing, and everything in between. It’s when we discover the world and where we fit in. In our teen years, our emotions are pure, and all that we go through is intense and totally confusing.

That’s why YA captures such a wide-ranging readership base. It crosses the generations, and is read by young adults and adults alike. There is no age barrier to YA. Even my 90-year-old grandmother has recently read my YA fantasy romance. It was her first foray into this genre, and she was fascinated by how enthralled she became. (Phew.) The story reminded her of the time she lived by the seat-of-her-pants. (Yep, seat-of-her-pants. She was such a rebel in her younger years.) She wants more YA–and just like that, she’s hooked.

So, let’s cover what YA writers should be aware of. There are certainly some points to note.

  • YA books focus on the essence of what teens go through, and I’m not talking about learning to drive a car, going to prom, or that very first date.
  • YA readers are smart. They want deep storylines, and fast-paced action, so don’t even attempt to write simple. Teens will spot simple a mile away, and just get annoyed.

In fact, it’s often said writers must pay attention to the three core questions which should be at the heart of every YA novel.

  • Who am I?
  • Where do I belong?
  • How do I get there?

A ton of new questions can arise from these three core ones, but fundamentally they make great building blocks when writing YA.

Your characters are about to take the journey in discovering the answers they seek. There’ll be struggles and mistakes, bends and twists in the road, triumphs and tears, but that’s how teens uncover all life has to offer. The journey they undertake must be deep. They must challenge themselves to sort out any inner fears and frustrations, and while doing so, remain completely relatable.

All in all, YA books are about teens coming to terms with who they are, and experiencing all life’s ups and downs along the way.

Okay, so if you’re after some YA novel guidelines, here are some helpful pointers.

  • So far, there are no forbidden subjects, but whatever you delve into must be done with sensitivity and care, taking into account the age of the teen reader. Often we can allude to something, and then fade out the scene. The YA reader is smart, and they’ll be aware of what’s happened.
  • Overall, teens will identify more strongly with the character’s feelings, and this is why intense situations don’t always need to be written in.
  • Characters are teens, and aged within those years.
  • YA novels generally run between 40,000-75,000, but you will find books either side of that. If there is a particular publisher you’re after then make sure you check out their website’s submission guidelines to see if they have a preferred word count.
  • There are also no vocabulary restrictions for YA, but make certain any coarse language is age or topic appropriate.
  • YA is predominantly written in 1st or 3rd Person (I said, or she said.) Although there are some in 2nd Person (you say.)
  • And lastly, any subgenre is enjoyed, like fantasy, romance, paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi, historical, mystery, adventure, humor. There are no limitations on this.

I hope this post has been helpful for those writers wanting to delve into YA, or for those who just want to know a little more about this intriguing genre. Even in writing this post, I was surprised by how much I had to share. YA is certainly not easy to write, although it’s incredibly enjoyable.

But there’s more…

I’m going to share a link to the most traumatic post I’ve ever written which was featured this week on Dear Teen Me. I cried like a baby as I wrote it.

Here’s what happened. A few weeks ago, I was asked by “Dear Teen Me” to write a post, and I was thrilled to accept. Then I received the details. I was to write a letter to my teen-self, and I tell you, it was the most traumatic writing experience ever. Who wants to write a letter to their teen self? Not me, but I’d committed to it, so I jumped in with both feet and shared from my heart.

If you want to find out what made me blubber and cry, (I think I went through an entire box of tissues,) then check out the post here.

Thanks for taking a look if you did.

If you have any questions, just leave me a comment. I love hearing from you. And if you’d like to read a YA novel, then feel free to check out my YA/NA Magio-Earth series with its abundance of 4&5 Star reviews. Enjoy, and take care this week.

1.1.2 magio-earth women

Amazon Author Page for all Books

ENCHANTER (Magio-Earth #3): Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / Kensington Publishing iTunes / Kobo

HUNTER (Magio-Earth #2.5): Amazon Kindle

WARRIOR (Magio-Earth #2): Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / Kensington Publishing iTunes / Kobo

PROTECTOR (Magio-Earth #1): Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / Kensington Publishing iTunes / Kobo  


12 thoughts on “How Do You Write YA?

  1. In my Kasdtien Cycle series I focus on the changes thattake place at around sixteen where the world begins to impose it’s ideals and responsibilities on you. Even in a fantasy setting, characters need to be someone who the reader says,”I know exactly what that feels like.

  2. I’ve been writing YA for a while now and it’s hard work but I get such a thrill out of it. One story, which I published on wattpad for a bit of fun, was a huge hit. It’s such a great feeling knowing you’ve hit the nail on the head. Loved your post by the way, it’s great to be reminded of how to write for teens and keep them interested.

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