From coming-of-age tales to dystopian thrillers, young adult fiction is a diverse and exciting genre. With our expert tips and tricks, you can learn how to write a young adult novel that will capture the imagination of readers everywhere. So, whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, our guide to writing a young adult novel is packed with valuable insights and practical advice. Let’s start creating your next YA masterpiece today!
Young Adult VS New Adult Genre
Young adult fiction, or YA, is aimed at readers aged 12-18, although many adults also enjoy reading it. Fiction books for adults often deal with issues of identity, coming-of-age, and first love, and may have a strong focus on friendship and family. While YA books can cover serious topics such as mental health, abuse, and social issues, they are generally more accessible and easier to read than adult fiction.
New adult fiction, or NA, is aimed at readers aged 18-30, and deals with themes such as identity, self-discovery, and navigating early adulthood. New adult novels often explore issues such as college life, first jobs, and romantic relationships, and may have more explicit content than YA fiction. While some new adult books may be classified as romance or erotica, there is a growing trend towards more diverse representation in the genre.
Top 12 Most Popular Themes of Young Adult Novels (With Examples)
Young Adult Fiction is such a broad and versatile genre, with unlimited possibilities and storylines to discover. However, certain themes appeal the most to the readers.
Here are the top 12 most popular themes of young adult novels:
Coming of Age
This theme often focuses on a young protagonist’s journey of self-discovery and personal growth. For example; a high school student struggling with her identity and self-worth while navigating her first romantic relationship.
Young adult novels often explore mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and trauma. For example; a teenage boy battling depression and suicidal thoughts while trying to find his place in the world.
Romantic relationships are a common theme in young adult novels, often exploring themes of love, heartbreak, and identity. For example; a shy girl falling in love with a popular boy, but their relationship gets tested when she discovers a secret about him.
Many young adult novels tackle social issues such as racism, discrimination, and inequality. For example; a group of friends confronting racism and discrimination when their school faces a controversy over a Confederate flag.
Adventure novels often feature a young protagonist who goes on a journey, facing challenges and obstacles along the way. For example; a young orphan setting out on a quest to find his missing father and discovering a hidden world of magic and danger.
Young adult dystopian novels often depict a bleak future world where society has collapsed, and young protagonists must fight for survival. For example; in a future world where people are divided into factions based on their virtues, a young woman discovering a conspiracy to overthrow the government.
Science fiction books often feature futuristic settings and advanced technology, exploring themes such as artificial intelligence, space travel, and extraterrestrial life. For example; in a future where Earth is uninhabitable, a group of teenagers being sent on a mission to colonize a distant planet, but soon discovering a dark secret about the mission that threatens their survival.
Young adult novels often explore themes of sexuality and sexual identity, including LGBTQ+ representation. For example; a teenage girl exploring her sexuality and coming to terms with her attraction to girls, while navigating the challenges of high school and the disapproval of her conservative family.
Fantasy novels often feature magical or supernatural elements and a richly imagined world. For example; a young wizard having to defeat an evil sorcerer and save the kingdom from darkness.
These novels often involve a young protagonist investigating a mystery or trying to solve a crime. For example; a teenage girl investigating the disappearance of her best friend and uncovering a web of lies and betrayal.
Horror novels often feature supernatural or psychological scares, exploring themes of fear and terror. For example; a group of friends spending a night in a haunted house and fighting for their lives when they become trapped inside.
Sports novels often explore themes of teamwork, dedication, and overcoming obstacles to achieve success. For example; a high school football team overcoming personal obstacles and learning the value of teamwork as they pursue a championship season.
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How to Write a Young Adult Novel (Step-by-Step Guide & Tips)
Make Sure You Have a Clear Idea
When writing for young adults, it is important to start with a clear vision of the story you want to tell. This includes identifying your target audience, selecting a genre, and developing a concept that resonates with readers.
Establish a Well-Defined Storyline
Writing a young adult novel can be a daunting task, so it is helpful to create a road map or outline to guide you through the process. This includes developing a plot, creating a timeline, and identifying key milestones in the story.
Enhance Your Writing Skills
Writing is a skill that requires continuous improvement, so it is important to focus on improving your craft when writing a young adult novel. This includes learning about the craft of writing, studying the works of successful authors, and practicing your writing regularly.
Put Effort in Character Development
Characters are the heart of any young adult novel, so it is important to create complex and relatable characters that readers can connect with. This includes developing a backstory, identifying character traits and flaws, and ensuring that each character has a unique voice and perspective.
Challenge Pre-Existing Stereotypes
Young adult literature has the power to challenge established stereotypes and provide readers with diverse and inclusive representation. This includes breaking down gender, racial, and cultural stereotypes, and portraying characters with a range of experiences and identities. It is important to approach this with sensitivity and authenticity, doing research and consulting with people who have lived experiences that differ from your own.
Moral Lessons are Not a Necessity
While many young adult novels have a message or lesson, it’s important not to focus too heavily on moralizing your story. Instead, focus on telling a compelling and engaging story that will resonate with your readers. If you have a message or lesson, it should be woven seamlessly into the story, rather than feeling forced or preachy.
Know Your Target Audience
Young adult literature covers a wide range of ages, from middle grades to older teens, so it’s important to understand your target audience and what they want to read. This includes researching current trends in young adult literature, understanding your readers’ interests and concerns, and ensuring that your writing is age-appropriate.
Optimize Your Writing Schedule
If you are going to write adult fiction, it will take time and dedication, so it’s important to establish a writing routine that works for you. This may involve setting aside a specific time each day to write, breaking up your writing into smaller sessions, or finding a quiet and distraction-free space to work.
Produce Something Unique & Innovative
Young adult readers are intelligent and discerning, so it’s important to challenge yourself to think harder when writing your novel. This may involve researching new ideas and concepts, developing complex characters and plotlines, or exploring themes that are relevant and thought-provoking.
Outlining VS Going with the Flow
Some young adult authors prefer to outline their stories before they begin writing, while others prefer to dive right in and see where the story takes them. Both approaches have their benefits, and it’s important to find the method that works best for you. Outlining can help you stay organized and focused while writing freely can spark your creativity and help you discover new ideas and plot twists.
Specific Language and Writing Style
The language and writing style you use in your young adult novel is important in creating an immersive and engaging reading experience. Consider using a tone and voice that matches your target audience, and pay attention to pacing, dialogue, and description.
Don’t Expect Overnight Progress
Writing adult fiction books is a challenging and often solitary task, so it’s important to be kind to yourself throughout the process. This includes setting realistic expectations, celebrating your progress, and taking breaks when you need them.
Grow Your Authors Network
Connecting with other writers can provide valuable support, advice, and inspiration when writing a young adult novel. Consider joining a writing group or online community, attending writing conferences or workshops, or finding a writing buddy to share your progress and feedback with.
Stay Passionate & Enthusiastic
When writing a young adult novel, it’s important to love your project and be passionate about the story you are telling. This enthusiasm will show through in your writing and help keep you motivated and engaged throughout the writing process.
Happy Endings VS Cliff Hangers
While not all young adult novels have a happy ending, many readers appreciate a satisfying conclusion to the story. This includes resolving plot threads, providing closure for characters, and leaving readers feeling hopeful and inspired. However, it’s important not to force a happy ending if it doesn’t fit with the story or characters. A bittersweet or ambiguous ending can also be effective if done well.
Final Thoughts: Writing a Young Adult Novel
Writing a storybook for adults can be a surprisingly unique experience. It requires a deep understanding of your target audience, a strong vision for your story, and a commitment to improving your craft. It’s important to be kind to yourself throughout the writing process, connect with other writers for support and inspiration, and love your project to keep yourself motivated and engaged. Whether you’re outlining your story or diving in and writing freely, remember to challenge yourself to think harder and craft a compelling and engaging story that will resonate with your readers. With dedication, persistence, and a little bit of luck, you can create a young adult novel that will inspire and delight young readers for years to come.
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Should a YA Novel Include Sex Scenes?
The inclusion of sex scenes in a young adult novel is a contentious issue. While some authors choose to include such scenes to accurately portray the experiences of their teenage characters, others may feel uncomfortable with the idea of including explicit content in a book aimed at younger readers. Ultimately, the decision to include sex scenes is up to the author, and should be made based on the story they want to tell, the tone they want to set, and their target audience.
How Much Money Does a YA Author Make?
The amount of money a young adult author can make varies widely depending on factors such as book sales, publishing contracts, and advances. Some young adult authors may make a modest income, while others may earn a substantial living from their writing. It’s important to keep in mind that writing is a competitive industry, and success may take time, hard work, and dedication.
Is YA Fiction Writing Profitable?
Yes, young adult fiction writing is pretty profitable. Despite the challenges facing the publishing industry, young adult fiction remains a popular and lucrative genre. However, success in this field requires a strong understanding of your target audience, a compelling story, and a dedication to improving your craft.
Should I Hire a Professional YA Book Writer?
Hiring a professional young adult book writer can be a good option if you have a story to tell but lack the time, skills, or experience to write it yourself. A professional writer can help you develop your story, create compelling characters, and craft a well-written and engaging book. However, it’s important to do your research and choose a writer who has experience in the young adult genre and shares your vision for the story you want to tell.