Writing YA

Writing primarily for young adults means you need to know your audience, and writing for young adults in 2015 is very different to writing for young adults in the year 2000. This is because our culture has developed and evolved in ways that are much more visual and engaging than 15 years ago. Here are 5 steps that specifically apply to the YA audience.

Tip 1 | Pacing

Keep the action moving. In classic fantasy writing the author can take his time producing long drawn out descriptions that continue for pages upon pages. Young adults don’t like this. You will lose them and they will put the book down. This isn’t to say that some won’t conform to this rule, but you’re not writing for some. You’re writing to connect with as many people as possible right?

Tip 2 | Characters

Young adults don’t always think things through and they will connect with characters that sometimes make rash decisions. At the beginning of the World of Pangea the protagonist Idris makes a rash decision. It’s a typical teenager decision based on naivety and hope. That’s okay. Have you ever stopped to ask a teenager why they did something dumb? You already know the response you will receive don’t you!

Tip 3 | Emotion

Young adults are much more emotionally driven than other audiences. This ties in with the rash decision-making. 50 years ago fact and science drove the decision-making process, today teenagers want to connect emotionally and think emotionally. They will understand a character that does the same.

Tip 4 | Art

This is about the cover art. A new book needs cover art that connects with the YA audience. If you can’t find a good artist then you’re better off sticking to a title only on a plain colored background. Why? Because there are so many visual things out there that a young adult will spot a poor artist a mile away and want nothing to do with it.

Tip 5 | Beta Readers

Make sure some of your beta readers are teenagers. It will be a teenager that reveals to you some of the problems with the novel. Some adults have reviewed my novel and felt like the description was a little week, absolutely no teenager that has read it has given me this feedback. Some adults think that Idris acts without thinking it through, the feedback from teenage readers is that he’s ‘relatable’ and they love ‘connecting with him.’ One more example is an adult reader who told me they felt there was too much action in the novel, while teenagers told me they loved that it never slowed down and went from one thing to another.

Know your audience, the faster the culture of society changes and develops, the wider the gap between teenage perception and adult perception will become.


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I'm the author of The World of Pangea, a blogger and eSports journalist. In my spare time I love to write about the history of fantasy, writing tips, family history and occasionally politics. Sometimes I interview other authors and review their work. I am an avid collector of Superman comics and I love to write poetry.

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