January 23, 2018

Writing Young Adult Fiction

Writing Young Adult Fiction at Colorado Free UniversityKeys to Writing Young Adult Fiction by Caitlin Berve

Writing young adult fiction is often thought of as just writing “books about teenagers,” but it is so much more than that. Reaching both teenagers and adults, YA has the largest audience of any category of literature. It is one of the newest, largest, and fastest changing categories, which makes it uniquely suited to experimentation with writing.

While most young adult literature protagonists are around seventeen, they don’t have to be. The most important component of YA characters is that they think and act with the passions of hormonal adolescents. Teenagers are rash, bold, impulsive, and stubborn because they feel so intensely. To ring true, YA characters need to react to the world in the same way; they need to feel everything at a ten, not a four. If the characters don’t experience the world like teenagers, the story will not ring true to a young adult reader.

Because the YA category is so new and fluid, writers are not only allowed, but encouraged to have fun and experiment with their writing. Genres are bent, mixed, and fused on a regular basis. Think of the fantasy/romance series Twilight by Stephanie Meyer or the historical/science fiction components in Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. Young adult literature also experiments with the form of the text. Crack open The Book Thief by Markus Zusak to any page and look at all the white space and the way some sentences are centered and bolded. Young adult literature gives writers the freedom to adjust the structure of the writing and how it looks on the page to tell their stories in the most interesting and effective forms they can.

These are just a few of the reasons young adult literature is so exciting for readers and writers. The newness, the evolution, the experimentation, the characters – all of it comes together to create a work of art book lovers find addictive.

If you want to learn more about Writing Young Adult Fiction or try it for yourself, Caitlin Berve teaches Exploring the World of Young Adult Fiction: An Intro for Writers

About Caitlin Berve

Catlin Berve has an MFA in creative writing and poetics from Naropa University and wrote her critical thesis on “What Makes a Young Adult Novel.” She is the owner of Ignited Ink Writing, LLC, where she freelance and contract writes and edits. Her work has been published in several literary magazines, and she has written three novels, two YA and one adult.


About Colorado Free University

Colorado Free University is an adult continuing education center in Denver.  We offer a wide menu of enrichment and skill-based classes for anyone over the age of 17.  CFU is a relaxed learning environment and there are no entrance requirements, grades, or tests.  Classes are taught by independent contractors who are experts in their fields and are motivated to give back to the community. 

[Find out how to register and see CFU policies here]

[Learn about teaching at CFU here]

Speak Your Mind

*