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Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies

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Your hands-on, friendly guide to writing young adult fiction With young adult book sales rising, and bestselling authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer exploding onto the scene, aspiring YA writers are more numerous than ever. Are you interested in writing a young adult novel, but aren't sure how to fit the style that appeals to young readers?

Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies gives you tricks of the trade and proven tips on all the steps to write a YA book, from developing an idea to publication.

Unique writing exercises to help you find your own authentic teen voice Tips to avoid when submitting manuscripts How to break into the flourishing young adult market With the help of this step-by-step guide, you'll have all the skills to write an inspiring and marketable young adult novel.

384 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2011

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About the author

Deborah Halverson

6 books38 followers
Deborah Halverson is the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies and the forthcoming Writing the New Adult Novel: How to Write & Sell New Adult Fiction, as well as the founder of the popular writers’ advice website DearEditor.com. Deborah edited young adult and children’s fiction with Harcourt Children’s Books before picking up a pen to write the teen novels Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth, the picture book Letters to Santa, and three struggling reader books for the “Remix” series. She speaks extensively at workshops and conferences for writers and freelance edits adult fiction and nonfiction while specializing in teen fiction and picture books.

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5 stars
126 (43%)
4 stars
101 (35%)
3 stars
48 (16%)
2 stars
9 (3%)
1 star
3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Carol Riggs.
Author 13 books275 followers
December 1, 2012
Excellent resource--not just for Newbies!

I'm glad to have added this book to my collection of writing resources! The book is comprehensive, starting out from setting up a writing workspace all the way to the how-to's of publication. The book is organized into self-contained logical sections so you can browse it like a smorgasbord, choosing what you want, when you need it. There are great details for the beginning writer, but also wonderful reminders, juicy tidbits, and food-for-thought for more seasoned writers. I learned new things reading it, even though I've been writing and absorbing info for 10 years. The book covers what NOT to do as well as what to do--nitty-gritty do's and don'ts. Learn them in this book and avoid awkward mistakes!

I love the really cool checklists for novels, as well as writing exercises that make writers think about what's going on with their themes, characters, and plots. I am SO going to use the "Using Your Hook to Shape Your Story" section with its handy checklist, for my next novel. The sidebars include tips from well-known YA authors and agents, which are fun and informative. I also love this intro sentence, as Deborah's goal for what writers can take away from the book: "…how to think like a kid but strategize your novel and your career like an adult."
Profile Image for Margo Kelly.
Author 3 books146 followers
April 6, 2012
Well ... I had no intention of reading this book because I hated the title ... but when an editor rejected my manuscript and told me I should read this book, I let out a sigh and conceeded.

It's a very quick and easy read (maybe because it was written for DUMMIES *please note intended sarcasm*). I read it in less than a day, and although I was resistant, I came away from it with about twenty pages flagged.

The author gives basic and easy tips for improving your writing and tackling that tricky topic of VOICE. I'm excited to get to work revising (again), and I will definitely employ some of her suggested techniques.
Profile Image for Luna Erica.
117 reviews
August 25, 2016
"Show, don't tell." It is by far the most important tip I'm keeping close after reading this book.
The book is actually really useful for anyone interested in the skill of writing. Most, if not all, elements of writing YA fiction are discussed and portrayed with examples.
The book is written for adults, yet it is also perfectly applicable to teens like myself. I personally read it because I intend to write a novel myself, but there are also plenty of general writing and scening tips in there for any other form of writing.
And yes, at some points the book gets a bit dull to read, but that is to be expected from a tutoring book. Overall, I found it greatly interesting and enlightening to read.
Profile Image for Mary Ellen.
534 reviews37 followers
December 31, 2017
I definitely enjoyed this book. It is a great writing guide, and story development guide. It is a good way to get the ball rolling if you don't know where to start. The only thing I didn't care for was that it was a little dated. A lot of young adult fiction has changed since this book was written, which isn't the author's fault but I would love to see her right a new book based on current young adult literature. A lot of the information was geared a little more towards middle grade rather than young adult. But that being said the same author also wrote a guide on new adult fiction which I absolutely love! I highly recommend both guides.
Profile Image for Lady Entropy.
1,219 reviews45 followers
May 31, 2012
Not as informative or organized as "Writing Novels For Dummies", it's still full of interesting information, and a must read for people planning on writing YA fiction.

It dedicates WAY too much time (almost a fifth of the book) to promoting book\finding agents\working with editors\sending your submission -- maybe that could be left for "Book Publishing For Dummies"? I would have liked to see more in working the plot, and revising, rather than "general" guidelines.

Still, worth the money.
Profile Image for Cyndi.
Author 1 book8 followers
July 18, 2018
This is a fairly comprehensive book and there is probably a little something for everyone.

It started off with more general stuff about approaching writing that I didn't find particularly useful, although another writer might.

As it got into the nitty-gritty issues of writing, it dealt with both common stuff about writing in general (which I didn't really need) but also about specifics on writing in a novel format, which I didn't necessarily have already.

The latter section is on publishing, different types of elements of publishing, contracts, marketing, and using conferences. Stuff that isn't useful to me at this stage of writing my book but that is useful to me in helping my husband with his.

Overall a good resource but unfortunately quite dated. This edition is from 2011. So talking about the publishing and websites and social media and all of that is really not as useful as it could be. But there's still a lot in there. Hopefully there will be a newer addition at some point. If not already. But this was the one in the library.
Author 1 book3 followers
July 4, 2017
Surprisingly, a very good reference and reminder of all the aspects to keep track of in writing and publishing a creative work. Comprehensive, if abbreviated coverage, checklists and reminders, pointers to areas where deeper insight is beyond the scope of the book. Instructions and recipes for approaching problems without diving into techniques for solving them.
Profile Image for Sharon Hughson.
Author 30 books55 followers
April 6, 2021
This comprehensive guide is a great starting place for the author looking to dig up the mystery of writing for the booming young adult fiction market. Best of all? Halverson’s narrative voice will reveal the elusive topic of voice through example.
Profile Image for Kaylynn.
20 reviews
July 5, 2017
Informative. I appreciate how easy to read it is. This is a book with helpful breakdowns of what to do and look out for when writing YA Fiction.
Profile Image for Marian.
94 reviews2 followers
June 30, 2018
Highly recommend this book for anything be looking to write Middle Grade or Young Adult fiction. The book is filled with a lot of valuable information.
Profile Image for Anna.
165 reviews1 follower
February 8, 2020
Really great tips in here on publishing and revising a manuscript
24 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2020
I don't write reviews for dummies books, but this was an excellent book on writing for YA. Great book to keep near you for reference. While I recommend reading more books to learn more about writing, this is a great start.
684 reviews26 followers
January 27, 2014
The book I read to research this post was Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies by Deborah Halversen which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. There are 2 major types of young adult fiction, there is tween or middle grade aimed at 12 or under and teen or young adult fiction aimed at 12-17 year olds. Many adults read young adult fiction particularly the fantasy and science fiction types as it reminds them of happy times. Fantasy and science fiction are probably the 2 most popular types. The first example of teen fiction was The Outsiders published in 1967 and later made into a feature film which dealt with issues like girls and alienation and was very popular with teens. Actual sex is best avoided in young adult fiction particularly ones aimed at younger people although you can look at things like relationships. This book features portions written by well known authors about aspects of writing. It's probably a good idea for an aspiring writer to have a blog, as there are many platforms where you can do this for free. There are dedicated book writing blog sites like http://goodreads.com & http://jacketflap.com. There is also a site called http://nanowrimo.org where you are encouraged to write a book in 1 month. You probably need to sort out your plot and characters prior to taking up this challenge but when you consider it even if you only write for 1/2 a day that is 3.5 hours a week although you may find with this challenge you need do several hours per day and have little time for rewrites. Humor is important in a book as it can be used to tell you a lot about a character. Also it's not enough to understand what a character is doing, people need to understand why it's important and what motivates him. Especially if you are writing fantasy you need to write about the world you are writing about, what led up to this etc. If you are writing about a house describe every room in the house, if you are writing about a family write about every member. If you try to get a book published there should be lots of short paragraphs and white space. Children will often look at a book prior to buying it and a heavy duty read will put them off. An agent or publisher shouldn't charge you to read your book as that is regarded as unethical. Sometimes they will give you suggestions and offer to re read it once they are implemented which is a good sign and indicates interest in publishing it. JK Rowling had the Harry Potter series turned down by 12 publishers and Bloomsbury who finally agreed did so because the publisher's daughter read it and begged him to publish it. This is a really interesting book which is very relevant to any would be publishers & I really enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Yudron.
Author 3 books11 followers
December 20, 2012
I'm writing my first young adult fiction book, and this book answered all my basic questions like how to write for various age groups literacy level, what kids like to read, how many pages, can I refer to drugs or sex, what boys read, and so on.

It's written in according to the "dummies" formula. I got the small format Nook version and found it unpleasant because it was not easy to skim parts that I didn't need to read and find parts that were relevant. I'd recommend getting a hard copy of this one, or perhaps an e-book would be okay if it was viewed on a larger device with less clunky navigation tools.

The book itself is very useful.
Profile Image for Christie Speich.
23 reviews12 followers
March 12, 2012
I was pleasantly surprised at how well this book covered "writing for teens" vs just writing. It doesn't fall into the category of "the ONLY book on writing you'll ever need!" (but really, does any book?) which is fine with me, because what I was really looking for were things like writing believable teenage dialogue, believable teenage characters, etc. This book delivers on those kinds of topics, just as the title promises.
Profile Image for Barbulescu Diana.
26 reviews2 followers
September 26, 2014
It was a very good book that covers everything from plot to characters and dialogue, to publishing and all, a book that emphasizes what young adult fiction is and how it is different from other genres of fiction. I recommend it to all those that want to write YA. If there is one guide book to read before starting your piece, it's this one.
Profile Image for Zara Hoffman.
Author 25 books126 followers
March 20, 2013
A great easy to understand guide that walks you through every step of the writing process from a first draft, to revision, to submissions and conferences (and much more). I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 12 books25 followers
August 26, 2013
It's a must read for young adult authors. I was wary of the "For Dummies" label, but Deborah Halverson delivers a writing guide that is applause-worthy for both its breadth and depth. From an author's first word to publication, Halverson covers in detail what quality teen fiction looks like.
Profile Image for AJ.
432 reviews1 follower
Shelved as 'didn-t-finish'
February 13, 2016
I started this in hopes of getting possible ideas for my final Masters paper next year. I got halfway through. It was hard to take the advice seriously because the examples were pretty poorly written.
Profile Image for Joann.
346 reviews
September 26, 2011
Deborah will be appearing at the SDCL Book Fest Oct 1, 2011. Very hwlpful book for anyone interested in writing for the Teen market.
Profile Image for Elaine.
Author 2 books67 followers
May 5, 2012
A must have for anyone writing YA fiction.
Profile Image for Catrina Barton.
Author 3 books35 followers
June 10, 2012
Absolute enlightening book for people who like me want to break into the YA market!
Profile Image for Jen Halligan.
490 reviews251 followers
November 12, 2012
This is a great reference book! I borrowed this from the library but I'll be buying a copy.
Profile Image for Taleed.
14 reviews
March 24, 2013
I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in writing young adult fiction. Deborah is an expert in her field and her insight is invaluable.
Profile Image for Alec John .
Author 23 books66 followers
July 4, 2015
This book is absolutely amazing. It's really helped improve my writing.
Profile Image for Royce Ratterman.
Author 14 books15 followers
October 28, 2019
Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast.
Read for personal research
- found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews

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