This eight-week workshop is open to beginners and experienced writers both—anyone who has started work on a YA novel.
Writing for teens is less complex and easier than writing for adults. Right? Wrong. As adults, we can’t fully know what it’s like to be a teen right now. So we have the extra job of trying to bridge that gap.
In the first hour of class, we’ll workshop excerpts from participants’ novels-in-progress. We’ll look at YA-specific issues (e.g., teen dialogue) and also at general craft issues such as characterization, setting and use of flashbacks.
In the second hour, we’ll discuss the following topics and more:
Week One: YA novels we have known and loved. Please bring a favourite and describe it to the group. This week only, we’ll do in-class exercises instead of workshopping; we’ll take passages from adult novels and “YA them.”
Week Two: Which famous Canadian work of adult fiction was submitted to its publisher as YA? What are the differences, really? Could your book go either way?
Week Three: “YA novels must have happy endings, or at least hopeful ones”—true or false? We’ll look at examples including Lauren Oliver’s popular Before I Fall.
Week Four: World building in YA novels. We’ll look at successes such as Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.
Week Five: “YA can’t be too violent or sexually explicit”—true or false? For examples, we’ll talk about Raziel Reid’s controversial Everything Feels Like the Movies and Elise Moser’s Lily and Taylor.
Week Six: Discussion and in-class exercises in dialogue. We’ll revise some successful dialogue from adult novels to make it more teen friendly.>
Week Seven: How not to sound dated when working with music, technology, and slang. Which big-selling author put a “vintage” form of technology in his book, as a way to get around this?
Week Eight: We’ll close things off by looking at elements of a great YA love scene. I’ll bring examples including one from Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks.