Five Tips for Writing YA

2 minutes read

How do we create a story that will appeal to and resonate with teenagers and young adults? Multi-award-winning author Penny Joelson shares her top tips for writing YA below.


Read YA books

A wide range of amazing books for young adults are being published and if you want to write for this age group it is important to get a feel for what is out there and see how other successful authors do it. Visit your local bookshop or library and get reading!

Listen to Teenagers

It is important to get a feel for the way teenagers talk, so you can get the voices right in your story. Whether you have teenagers in the family or listen to teenagers talking on the bus, or watch teenagers on TV/YouTube/TikTok etc, it will help your writing. This doesn’t mean including the latest slang which can date as slang can be short-lived.

Think about Theme

A YA book doesn’t just need teenage characters, it needs a theme that will be of interest to young adults. What do they care about? What interests them?


Don’t be scared – experiment, play with words. Have a go! Don’t worry about getting it right first time, or about whether it will be published. Write for pleasure and enjoy it!

Do a course!

As an author, I started my career with a course in Writing for Children which helped me so much and gave me the skills and knowledge to make sure my first novel was as good as it could be. Without the course, I don’t think I would have found a publisher and a book deal!

Photo of Penny Joelson, Writing YA tutor at Faber Academy

Penny Joelson is a multi-award-winning author, currently working on a new Young Adult thriller. Among twelve published books, Penny has written three YA novels including I Have No Secrets which was Carnegie-nominated and won the FCBG national Children’s Book Award (Older Readers category) as well as ten other regional awards. Penny’s other YA books, Girl in the Window and Things the Eye Can’t See are also award-winning. Her books have been published in countries including the US, Germany, Japan and Taiwan. Penny has been teaching Creative Writing to adults for twenty years and is the tutor on our upcoming Writing YA course.



Writing YA is an invigorating introduction to writing fiction for teenagers and young adults that will give you the skills – and inspiration – to get your YA novel started.


This online course will equip you with knowledge of genres and themes for YA, and give you skills and techniques to go from idea generating to plotting, developing interesting, relatable characters and strong, engaging dialogue along the way. You will build confidence in your writing, finishing the course with an opening chapter or more that will grab the reader’s attention.


Find out more about the course here.


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