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Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  552 ratings  ·  88 reviews

From a top young adult literary agent, the only guide on how to write for young adults

With an 87 percent increase in the number of titles published in the last two years, the young adult market is one of the healthiest segments in the industry. Despite this, little has been written to help authors hone their craft to truly connect with this audience. Writing Great Boo

Paperback, 191 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Sourcebooks (first published August 1st 2008)
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Start your review of Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal
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
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
Feb 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
May 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
The writing advice was a bit disappointing and honestly, kind of juvenile and demeaning to YA devotees, but I can’t deny the industry advice (on querying and editing) is pretty invaluable.

It’s clear Brooks knows the business half of YA.

I wish the book had been focused on the publication process and her advice for querying an agent and polishing manuscripts instead of dedicating over half of it to her writing advice.
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Regina Brooks tells us that she was originally an engineer, and unfortunately, her approach to her book follows that mind-set: how to write a YA book broken into its component parts of plot, setting, characters, dialogue, etc., etc. At times, it reads like a textbook, at its worst when it starts listing the twenty-six different types of conclusions to plots. Lists are fine, but concrete and engaging examples would have been much better.

Don't get me wrong. The information is all very valuable, an
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
Eleanor Roth
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
May 23, 2015 added it
Shelves: 2015
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.
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Often makes it sound like YA readers are sub-par.
Oct 11, 2019 rated it liked it
This book had a couple of helpful tidbits and information on the industry & craft, which is why I'm giving it 3 stars (which is generous), but I had such a hard time getting over the condescending nature it had towards young adult readers. As someone who was a middle schooler with a college reading level, I'm a little insulted over how belittling this is towards teenagers and how we need to dumb down the writing since they don't have the maturity to handle "complex stories." There were many time ...more
Sarah Tinaburri
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
It had some pretty good advice overall, though I would say that some of it is a little outdated, not surprising considering it was first published in 2008 with the revision done in 2013 — she was very pro-agent and traditional publishing, where as since 2008 there had been giant leaps in the self-publishing industry.

Some reviews on this have said she was guilty of encouraging authors to baby teen readers. I think she was trying to be realistic about the psychological development of teens. This
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had to read this for a course. I'm generally against 'how to' books, so probably wouldn't have picked it up if it hadn't been a requirement. This book reminded me why.

Although I picked up a few useful pointers, and a couple of things I hadn't thought about before, on the whole I found it a mind-numbing experience to plough through endless rules and lists and must remembers and tips. Fine to dip in and out of, but as a whole it actually put me off writing rather than inspiring me. Everything w
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
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
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
Dec 05, 2020 rated it liked it
This has some really good information in it. Though some is now outdated since publication, (Myspace), and at times the author thinks too little of the YA readers she's representing within the pages, there are a lot of really good nuggets in here.
I'd suggest, don't use it as gospel but as a building block to helping you understand and learn, and continue to read more, non just non fiction, how-to books, but everything. And as is stated in here, read everything you can by other authors that write
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Dec 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Wow, it took me five years to finish reading this. That should tell you something about it. Actually, I set it aside for a few years and started reading from the beginning. Still, it's only an okay book. If you read a lot of how-to-write books, they mainly start to sound the same. ...more
Elissa Matthews
Jul 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Howe
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
This is a good place to start learning about some tips and tricks.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very informative. I will be referencing this book for a long time to come.
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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

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