How To Write For A YA Audience

By on March 7, 2017
How To Write For A YA Audience -Writes

'Know your reader' is a great piece of advice to take on board when writing a novel, regardless of which genre you are writing. However, this perhaps has never truer when it comes to writing for a YA audience.

Unless you are a young adult yourself, it’s important to get into the mindset of one to be able to deliver the kind of story that will keep them engrossed and get them talking.

Writing for a YA audience is tough, but, done right, it can be one of the beast ways to become a successful author - the YA readers are tough critics, but they are also a powerful influence, and often we see popular YA books being read by a far wider audience once they catch on.

So if you are thinking about writing a book for a young adult audience, here are some things to consider:

Avoid teen speak

It can be tempting to fling all sorts of teen slang or text speak into your novel in order to try and make it sound ‘real.’ However, be warned, this is a huge red flag. Not only will this make your book harder to read, it can come across as pretty patronising to your readers - so do so only at your own risk!

Be truthful and direct

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to writing YA fiction. Don’t shield them from events that would happen in the real world. Your story can have parts that are dark, sad, or horrifying - your readers can handle it. Young people tend to be more truthful and direct when they speak and act too, so the more you do this the more realistic your characters will seem.

Research properly

Throwing in a well-timed pop culture reference can work wonders, but if you get this wrong or are inaccurate your readership will be pretty unforgiving. make sure you thoroughly research before you begin.

Don’t try too hard

You know that parent at parties that tried to just ‘fit in’ with the kids? Don’t be that guy! It’s obvious when a writer is trying too hard. If you spend too much time worrying about whether you sound authentic and agonising over every word then you’ll never get your book written in the first place. Remember, you can always go back and edit anything that doesn’t sound right - so, as with any book, your priority should be to get the story down.

See the world through their eyes

Understand what interests them, and what bores them too. They way we thought and what we were interested in as young people is not the same as when we grow up. Really get to know what inspires and excites them, what embarrasses them, makes them happy, sad, angry and frustrated. Make your protagonist relatable, if your audience can’t place him or her they won’t be able to engage with your book. End of story.

Make it fast paced

Often books aimed at an older audience have a slower pace and are more indulgent with the details, but a YA audience wants action and drama on every page. You’ve got to keep things moving otherwise you run the risk of losing your readers.

Writing for a YA audience can be great fun, and it is an interesting journey for any author to take themselves back to a time when they were a teen and remember what it was like. If you are writing YA fiction use these tips to guide you, and let us know if you have any other tips to share too!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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