An Introduction to Writing Middle Grade and YA Fiction

For brand new authors and seasoned professionals dipping their toe into writing for a young audience. Get clear on these distinctive readerships and how to create fantastic stories that meet middle grade and YA conventions.

Welcome to the best job in the world! 🌈

Hello, lovely author! Do you dream of writing a novel for children or teens? Well, I don't blame you because it's the most fabulous, rewarding job ever (apart from maybe getting to edit it!).

But if you're new to this space, it can feel a little overwhelming. Even if you're coming to kidlit (that's children's books) as an experienced adult fiction author, there are so many new terms and conventions that it's easy to get lost.

Are you wondering what terms like ‘middle grade’ and ‘young adult’ even mean and what the differences actually are? Trying to figure out what's allowed and what's considered too mature for children? Struggling with how various genres work in middle grade and YA?

Don't panic! This pre-recorded webinar and workbook offer an easy-to-digest guide to understanding and writing middle grade and YA, whether you’re new to fiction or an experienced author switching to a new audience. I'll answer questions like:

  • How old should your middle grade main character be? 
  • Can middle grade and YA feature romance?
  • What's the ideal word count in kidlit?
  • How can you tell the difference between middle grade, YA and adult books?
  • How prominent should adult characters be in the story?
  • How can you make yourself sound like a child?
  • What are agents looking for in middle grade and YA?

There are also some self-marked quizzes to test your own market knowledge and see how much you already know about the differences between the various age categories. Don't worry – there are no assignments or exams here. Everything can be done in your own time and I'll give you all the answers!

Watch a 50-second sneak preview!

Here's a super short snippet from the webinar to help you decide if this course is right for you. Although this clip only features my voiceover, you WILL get to see my smiling face in the webinar, too!

What we'll cover

This webinar and workbook will give you a solid introduction to the world of middle grade and young adult fiction and how to get started if you're thinking of writing for this really awesome audience. Whether you're a total beginner who's never written a word or you're a seasoned pro switching from a different audience, you'll come away from this course with a solid understanding of the middle grade and young adult space and what you need to consider before writing books for children or teenagers. Here's a rundown of the topics we'll cover:

  • An overview of the various age categories in publishing from board books to adult fiction
  • An explanation and definition of ‘middle grade’
  • An explanation and definition of ‘YA’
  • The key differences between middle grade and YA
  • The key differences between YA and adult
  • A discussion of child characters in adult books
  • Golden rule #1: think like a child
  • Golden rule #2: don’t make your hero an adult
  • Golden rule #3: don’t lecture your readers
  • Quiz: match the book to the audience
  • Quiz: identify three excerpts as middle grade, YA or adult
  • Quiz: a list of 20 book titles to test your knowledge

Preview a clip from my webinar intro!

Here's another sneak peek, this time from my introduction where I discuss some of the questions I'm going to answer in the course.

About your course teacher, Siobhán

Siobhán is a freelance developmental editor who spends her life reading children’s books, watching scary films and drinking unicorn gin. She lives in Surrey, England, with her graphic designer husband and five-year-old son who wants to be an artist, mechanic or Pokémon when he grows up.

Siobhán works directly with authors of middle grade and YA genre fiction, specialising in horror, mystery, fantasy and science fiction (or anything with a dash of magic or macabre).

She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children’s Literature and is a Professional member of the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders. She was a judge on the 2020 British Fantasy Awards horror panel and the IPNE Annual Book Awards’ YA category and reviews YA for the British Fantasy Society. 

Read more about her at Writer and the Wolf.

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