Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson is a thorough guide for authors ready to dive into novel writing for young readers. Most of the information and tips could be used in writing either young adult or middle grade fiction.
From the get go, Halverson makes a few assumptions about her readers: They want to be published, they have a story to tell, they want to be better writers, and they want to enlighten and entertain young people between the ages of 9 and 17.
If this fits you, then this book is worth a look.
This clearly and succinctly written book is organized into five large topic areas:
- Getting ready to write young adult fiction. General information on young adult literature and its audience as well as the actual how to find space and time to write.
- Writing riveting young adult fiction. The crucial story elements are explored here–I definitely sense that Halverson knows even more than she could include in this format; but she briefly explores writing the almighty hook, character development, plot with teen-driven action, setting, and creating an authentic voice. She even suggests places to find inspiration for captivating and relevant stories.
- Editing and Revising with Confidence. She provides a comprehensive self-editing checklist and also discusses the how-to of being in a critique group, along with a critique checklist too. She then moves on to formatting and polishing.
- Getting Published. The nitty-gritty details of submitting are explained here as well as consideration of self-publishing to help make an informed decision regarding that choice. She goes on to discuss marketing strategies as well.
- Common pitfall in writing young adult fiction. This is brief but helpful list of things to check for and to consider in writing your story – I’d suggest checking this chapter as soon as you have a story idea to prevent writing yourself into a sort of fatal hole.
My favorite part of this how-to book are the personal thoughts, tips, and anecdotes from authors, editors and agents.
- Darcy Pattison on marketing and book trailers.
- Cynthia Leitich Smith on paranormal fiction.
- Mary E. Pearson on beating writer’s block.
- Deborah Wiles on the use of dialect in dialogue.
- Jennifer Donnelly about setting and place.
- Gary Soto on developing plot, complication by complication.
- Kathi Appelt on raising the stakes and making the reader worry.
- Erin Murphy on making quiet books loud.
- Karen Cushman on character.
Obviously, Halverson tackles a wide range of topics and issues to consider – and does so in an easy to read, easy to follow style. Perfect for beginners, but worthwhile for more experienced writers as well. I think it would make an excellent textbook in writing courses.
Don’t forget to check out her “Free First 20 Pages Critique Giveaway!”
You don’t even have to be a dummy…
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK