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Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Getting Published

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  522 ratings  ·  83 reviews

Break into the Bestselling Young Adult Market with this IndispensableGuide!

Whether you're just getting started or are on the hunt foran agent or publisher, Writing Great Books for Young Adults is your completeinsider source on how to succeed in the flourishing world of YA fiction andnonfiction. In this updated and revised edition, veteran literary agent ReginaL. Brooks o

Kindle Edition, 225 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Sourcebooks (first published August 1st 2008)
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3.71  · 
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 ·  522 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
This had some helpful tidbits of information but I found that for the most part it underestimated and babied YA readers, basically suggesting they should not be challenged and they should have the story handed to them. It also operated under the assumption that those interested in this book are writing YA just to cash in on the market.
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: resource
I have an aversion to reading books on writing so I was a little surprised when I saw this on the library shelf and actually checked it out. I'd seen it recommended on a few sites and was a little curious about what this agent would have to say, what she thought was different in YA than the rest of the market, and if she had any great advice. It failed to impress me.

The first part of the book I kept thinking this was for all those people who at close of Twilight thought, "I could do that, and be
Sarah Pottenger
Please, for the love of all that is holy, don't read this. It's okay until Chapter 4, when things start not making sense. Do not read a book on writing for teenagers that is written by someone who thinks teenagers are too immature and inexperienced to read and understand the breadth of adult fiction.
May 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
About 95% general writing advice, and only 5% (about 10 pages total) insights into YA fiction, mostly common-sense. The author repeatedly advises the reader to go do the research him/herself instead of providing research/examples. I wish more niche genre books would skip the Novel 101 material and get to the specifics of the niche.

Some head-scratchers: Brooks incorrectly refers to a present participle in the progressive tense as a gerund and makes the all-too-common mistake of advising that firs
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Regina Brooks does a fantastic job of outlining the fundamentals of writing for the YA audience. Calling on her vast experience as a literary agent, she breaks down the entire process--from developing ideas to submitting queries to agents--in an easily digestible fashion. She discusses many of the rules you've probably heard before, such as "show, don't tell" and "avoid adjectives and adverbs," but instead of presenting them as inviolable laws, she explains why those guidelines are there and whe ...more
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Starring Zooey Deschanel on the cover!

This book has a lot of annoying exercises which are more for someone who has zero inkling of what they want to do with a YA novel. I guess that's hedging bets for the audience of the book, but it winds up forcing someone who has an existing idea to have to skip around in the text to make the most of what's here/ unnecessary.

There is good, general literary stuff here (list of conflicts, character types, etc), as well as a good section on thinking about litera
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four stars just for the useful tips on the industry. Three stars for the writing advice. Two stars or less for the times when it speaks condescendingly of the capabilities of young adult readers. As someone who read the Iliad at age 11, I know that young readers are often capable (and desirous) of much more than they are given credit for.
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer
Rating: 4 out of 5 Controllers
Review Source: NetGalley
Reviewer: Ariel

If you are someone who loves to write and would enjoy possible writing some Young Adult fiction, I would recommend Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks. I love reading YA books, and writing is also one of my hobbies, so I was really excited to read this book. Regina Brooks breaks the book up in different chapters with each one focusing on a different aspect of writing
Jen Ryland
Some good basic advice, both for fiction writers in general and those who want to write YA. However, if you have previously studied creative writing or read a lot of how-to writing books, you may find the advice a bit elementary. If you are just getting started, this book does a good job of touching briefly on some important concepts and advice.

Not every rule about writing YA fiction is unanimous or clear-cut and there is some stuff in here I disagree with. Yes, YA is generally read by people 12
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, solid book on the craft of writing that is geared primarily toward beginners. Most of the advice is tailored to the young adult market, though the principles apply across all genres. I did not, however, appreciate the repetition that young adult readers (read: teens) aren't emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. mature enough to handle certain topics, themes, or literary styles with the same nuance and sophistication as adults. This sentiment follows a rule that the writer should never ...more
Like any book on writing and young adult writing, you get out of it what you need or what will help you in your own writing. Tips, ideas, strategies, prompts and helps fill this book and can help in some way. I read it for a few chapters then skimmed the rest because I got what I wanted/needed out of the book.

Thanks to netgalley for the read in exchange for my honest review.
I had to read this for the Oxford course I took this year. The book isn't bad, but it can't be considered a stand-alone read. It provides food for thought and investigation if you're trying to write a story aimed at young adult readers, but it's not a manual on how to write a bestseller of course and you can't follow all the advice blindly.
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent enough, commonsense advice on how to write and sell books for young adults. The YA genre isn't that different from any other, and most of the advice could apply to all fiction books. Like all "how to write" books, however, this is of limited use -- I think if you really needed a book like this to be able to write well then you might as well not even bother.
Apr 26, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There are an unbelievable number of TYPOS in this book! The author works in the field; where the heck was her editor??? It's really hard for me to take advice seriously - about WRITING no less - when this happens. I'll probably still finish it. Eventually. But for now, Insurgent was just released yesterday, so THAT is where my attention is at!!! :-)
This doesn't contain anything you can't find for free on a blog, so I'm glad I checked it out from the library instead of buying it.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Often makes it sound like YA readers are sub-par.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing Great Books for Young Adults is a great introduction to the basics of novel writing. It walks you step by step through the process from finding your story through landing an agent. Along the way, it includes small writing exercises and gives lots of practical advice.

I would recommend reading this book before starting your first YA novel. Although I found that some of the tips were still helpful after completing my first manuscript, I feel it would have been more beneficial before hand. I
Eleanor Roth
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Blech, no. The advice in this book is unbearably elementary. Is this a book for adults about writing for a young audience, or a book for young people wanting to write? The title actually could go either way, but the book frequently talks about MG/YA audiences, so apparently, it's the former, but the incredibly basic instructions made it feel like a patronizing version of the latter.

A major issue I had with the book was how little respect the author seems to have for young readers. Respect for th
T.H. Hernandez
This one has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while, and I think I might have found it more useful if I'd read it when I first bought it a few years ago. There's certainly useful tidbits throughout, but it's neither a how-to nor a definitive resource on all things young adult fiction. Instead, it's an overview of fiction writing with additional information on what makes writing for young adults different from writing for adults. It's pretty void of details, but the overall concepts the author ...more
Leah Stapleton
While I thought she did a good job of addressing the key issues writers face with YA, she came short when it came to explaining herself. Her statements were a bit vague and were written as if everyone already understood certain concepts, which can be intimidating to new writers. I did like the simplicity though, I hate reading writing books that give heavy explanations, but I find a great writer can explain concepts simply with clarity. I liked her tips on editing, when she mentioned to cut all ...more
Debra Daniels-zeller
This book was written in 2009 and though some of the information is great, some of it feels a bit dated. YA novels now are more character driven. Perhaps they relied on plot only in the past, but characters have brought movie deals for books like The Hunger Games. That said, this book has lots of useful information, but I've read much of it before in other books: 36 Dramatic Situations, Setting and Timeline, Developing Characters, Understanding Plot--all good, but not much new stuff for YA. This ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It felt very dated in the information and advice. Likewise, it also seemed that the author was giving advice for books that weren’t genre. Perhaps not and I’m being critical for no reason whatsoever, but I often felt that some of the tips and do’s and don’ts wouldn’t apply to sci-fi/fantasy.
Elissa Matthews
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative. I will be referencing this book for a long time to come.
Elizabeth Howe
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
This is a good place to start learning about some tips and tricks.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was able to take a few notes, but this book was written for an adult audience that is out of touch with teenagers.
Zee Monodee
Nov 17, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose this would make a book a newbie to writing would pick up and go through, because all the concepts exposed in there are the basics of what every writer must already know. Under that light, some of the exercises this book asks you to do seem rather pointless, because there isn't a "one way fits all" in writing - every writer comes into his/her own process and trying to fit/conform to another's writing manner is oftentimes futile and counter-productive, too.

I really thought this book woul
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)
When I take the time to read nonfiction, I want to feel like I've spent my time wisely. I want to learn something new and be able to apply that information in a practical way. With Writing Great Books for Young Adults I accomplished both tasks!

I really took my time reading this book because there was SO much valuable information on each page. I teach middle school language arts, so I really did not expect to learn much in this area. Yes, I was full of hubris. I admit it. I spend entire units te
Amy Lawton
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Full disclosure: I received this book (2nd edition) for free through Goodreads' First Reads.

My interest in this book originally came from a few different places. I have an aspiring writer in my immediate family, a friend studying YA fiction at the graduate level, and an acquaintance who is already a published YA author. I wanted to learn about their field, but this book didn't really teach me anything I didn't already know. The first 10 chapters are just basic story-craft. If you have never stud
Sep 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an awesome resource!!!

I recently have been doing lots of research on writing fiction. I looked at books on plot, structure and point of view, but I didn’t think about looking for one in the genre I was writing. I really didn’t find one that totally connected with me until I came across this title.

I knew that I wanted to write a YA novel for some time, but didn’t realize that there was so much I didn’t know about what goes into it!

This book is a great guide as well as introduction in
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Regina Brooks is an award-winning author and literary expert with an indefatigable passion for guiding the careers of some of the publishing worlds best and brightest stars. As the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC., a full-service company based in Brooklyn, NY, which was hailed by Writers Digest Magazine as one of the top 25 literary agencies of 2004, Ms. Brooks continues t ...more
“Today’s young adult readers, having grown up using the Internet and playing high-speed computer games, will skip those paragraphs and pages of dense prose, flipping ahead to find where the story action starts again—or skip the whole novel.” 1 likes
“An author who adds a prologue to his novel is kidding himself if he thinks the reader won’t recognize it for what it is: backstory.” 1 likes
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