Five successful #LoveOzYA writers on how to write YA

Diem Nguyen  

In the lead up to EWF’s YA Masterclass, we asked five of our favourite #LoveOzYA writers to share some tips on crafting characters and stories that feel real to their teenage readers.

Katya de Becerra, What the Woods Keep

Don’t chase trends! YA is a vibrant and ever-changing field. Trends change quickly. While it could be tempting to get swept away by the next big book hype, it’s better to stick with writing stories that are unique to you. You never know, but your book can be the next big trend-setter!

Michael Earp, Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories

Trust your inner teen. Teens are discerning. They know what they like and they do not waste time on things they aren’t enjoying. We were all teens once. Tap into the teen who could pick up on when they were being talked down to and learn to listen to them.

Eleni Hale, Stone Girl

In YA there are gatekeepers who feel concern about what teens can read. Sometimes this is misplaced. Swearing and realistic and/or impoverished characters are difficult for some adults to accept. This is despite the fact so many teens live these lives and my advice for writers is to challenge this. Teen readers should be respected to choose their reading material. Many consume adult books anyway. But most importantly, literature should connect and include, not divide and segregate into categories of acceptable and unacceptable teen experiences.

Leanne Hall, This is Shyness

For me, the essence of YA fiction is seeing the world with teen eyes, so I concentrate on creating complex and authentic young characters. Generally it involves writing many more scenes and conversations with my characters than ever get used in the final book. I draft and re-draft, trying to get their voice and point of view correct.

Ellie Marney, White Night

Don’t talk down. Teenagers are much more savvy than most adults give them credit for. If you talk down to them, minimise their experience, ignore their ideas, fail to notice the emotional urgency of their lives and the complex social networks they’re a part of, then…why are you writing YA? Trust that your YA characters are smart enough to get through. And don’t baby your YA readers – they know when you’re faking them out.

Hear from these talented authors and learn all you need to know about writing, editing and publishing YA at Masterclass: YA on Tue 25 June at The Wheeler Centre.