Ultimate Guide for Writing Fiction for Young Adults (With 10 Tips)

Last Updated on September 24, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD


Books written for readers aged 12 to 18 are commonly referred to as young adult fiction. It softens the shift to adult fiction by being the next level of reading material after middle-grade imagination. It provides tales that are more emotionally and intellectually sophisticated in general.

The genre of YA isn’t a genre at all but a label for books targeted toward teenagers. It comes in various genres, such as Fantasy, mystery, and science fiction, representing a certain demographic’s reading level, worldview, and maturity.

The majority of teenage books focus on youngsters in their struggle to become adults. They discover hidden characteristics about themselves, resolve personal issues, and gain control of their behaviors. As a result, coming-of-age tales are another name for YA tales.

You’ll find out what makes a successful YA book here and the components of young adult fiction (also known as YA fiction).

Top 10 Tips for Writing an Excellent Young Adult Fiction

Good YA literature is often found in nearly any genre that would make for a good adult novel. YA books are distinguished by the qualities that elevate all great works:

  • Powerful viewpoint
  • Emotional authenticity
  • A relatable primary character
  • Entertaining secondary characters
  • Efficient language usage
  • A plot worth investing in 

Generally, a reimagined version would resonate as a young adult novel if a book succeeded as adult literature. Horror, thrillers, and dystopian sci-fi are prevalent among teenage readers because they respond to a certain level of edginess.

There are several distinct YA subgenres available:

· Horror

· Science fiction

· Sports novels

· Thrillers

· Coming of age stories

· Fantasy

Top 10 Tips for Writing a Compelling Fiction for Young Adults

1 – Write for 3D characters

Just because you’re writing adolescent characters, don’t stereotype your characters; give them depth and dimension. Multi-faceted characters are the most fascinating. Reading (and writing) about protagonists who are too good or antagonists with no redeeming qualities is dull. Ultimately, how can a person who isn’t well-rounded and relatable connect with a reader?

2 – Focus on genuine moments in the story

Remember that a teen perspective is almost always present in YA literature. Rather than using the knowledge and practiced vocabulary of an adult looking back on her teenage years, we should be experiencing your adolescent protagonist’s environment as she experiences it at the moment. Authenticity goes beyond a character’s unique voice. It’s also worth noting that story development must include a convincing ring of truth. 

3 – Take insights from real teenagers

Rainbow Rowell had no intention of becoming a YA novelist. However, in Eleanor & Park, a teenage love tale set in 1986, she used the same technique to write younger characters. Attachments were her first book, and it was written for adults.

She only found out it would be YA after the book was finished, and even then, she disagreed with the choice. Several readers and commentators questioned if the YA designation was appropriate since Rowell encouraged her to begin writing for adults, and the tale’s realism challenged many adult notions of a “teen novel.”

Yet, according to a fellow novelist, the fact that the central characters were teenagers was just one of what made Eleanor & Park a YA novel. That was because the story allowed them to see things through their eyes.

4 – Take references from pop-culture

Hazel is a sucker for America’s Next Top Model marathons, which makes her seem relatable to YA readers. In addition, the references to Hazel’s long-running reality program, Tyra Bank, provide insight into her as a person and a teenager that Green did not pretend for.

Rowell isn’t afraid to use pop culture to anchor her tales in reality, but she understands that references may not age well and may not behave as one would anticipate.

5 – Consider the right age for characters

Your YA novel’s protagonist should be between 14 and 18. So, about high school age, think about it. In reality, there are numerous adult books featuring adolescent protagonists. The fact that the novels are published with an adult readership makes these publications most often viewed as adult literature.

Two prominent examples are Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides, both of which feature adolescent protagonists reflecting on their teenage lives from an adult’s perspective.

6 – There’s no harm in writing about a heavy subject

When creating a YA book that is accurate and relatable, it’s vital to write with purpose rather than just being edgy. It is necessary to approach serious subject matter (or at least avoid it). Remember that your target audience is exposed to sex, drugs, terrible language, and any other Big Bads you can imagine throughout their everyday lives. The teenage experience is the focus of writing young adult fiction.

7 – Show some emotional honesty without being too quick

Some describe it as teaching, while others describe it as didacticism. Please don’t patronize your YA reader by whatever name you choose. We’re referring to the fact that you should never make your main character fall to teach them a lesson. Your YA book will be in trouble if your teenager reader can smell the study a mile away.

Writing YA is about the experience of writing a book, not about how it ends. An actual, relatable human being in flux and figuring things out is the subject of this journey to emotional truth. ARA readers appreciate your heartfelt honesty. They deserve real characters whose emotions connect with the audience, rather than people whose sole purpose is to convey moral high ground or life lessons.

8 – Write something robust and firey

Avoiding the opportunity to choose your topic material based on a recent Publishers Marketplace transaction that went for a “significant deal” might be challenging. Trends in young adult literature, on the other hand, are fickle. The movement may have passed you by the time you buy your book.

Writing about something that ignites you on fire is the most proper technique to make an agent, editor, or reader fall head over heels in adore your book. Regardless of the trend status of the topic, you are ecstatic to write about it every day. There’s nothing more infectious than your passion and creativity, and they’ll come through.

9 – Give readers at least a little for hopeful endings

Endings should be written creatively. Notwithstanding whatever dark events may have occurred before, most young-adult novelists instill optimism in their readers. While dealing with the same concerns, adult novels may leave readers downright melancholy, even bereft. However, there appears to be a responsibility in writing for young adults to allow for the possibility rather than drill in lessons and give warnings. Let your audience believe that they have an ultimate say in the matter.

10 – Always look for the ideal protagonist’s voice

The personality of your principal character, which emerges via the words they use to convey their tale, is best characterized as voice. Unfortunately, many new writers believe that voice is solely determined by how your character speaks in their literal conversation, which seems to be valid — but when we talk about voice, we mean every word on the page.

The belief that adolescent voice automatically equates to snide and sarcastic is one of the most significant errors we see YA authors make. Of course, such characteristics are viable options, but don’t confine yourself to just one voice; there are a limitless number of representatives worldwide.

In the novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” author Stephen Chbosky uses first-person narrator Charlie as a representation of all teenagers. They are rapidly growing, developing, and changing individuals who have to find their way in life through mistakes and lessons learned from trial & error while going through high school. 

The narrator’s point-of-view is unique because it shows how awkward he is but depicts his growth by sharing his thoughts with an adult reader throughout the book. 

Final Words

Over the years, the popularity of young adult fiction has increased. It’s a perfect genre for anyone who wants to explore different worlds and experience life from a new perspective. To help you write a captivating young adult novel, we’ve put together ten tips to help you create stories that will indeed engage your readers! So, what are you waiting for? Start writing today and see just how great your imagination can be! Thanks for reading!

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