How to Write For Teenage ReadersNovember 02, 2015

Many authors of Young Adult (YA) fiction have no idea that they're writing a YA novel until they're done with the draft. It will be about teenage characters, with their teenage problems. And how they get on with their lives. Unless it's Katniss Everdeen, who must save the human race.

The popularity of YA fiction rose to an unprecedented high during the last twenty years or so. Thanks to J.K. Rowling and other authors of the genre, anyone can be a YA author. But don't expect a bestseller after the publication of your first book. Here are some factors to consider:

Talk like a teenager. Rick Riordan can be the best teacher on this aspect of YA fiction. Zeus turned out to be a distant, if not old-fashioned, father, while Hera didn't make an effort to reach out to his children. If it's not like the Kardashian siblings, then it might be another family who are desperate to extend their fifteen minutes of fame. As for the demigods, the Texan thought of his former students. The result hardly surprised readers.

They must deal with teenage issues. The Lorien Legacies might not been a hit if not for the teenage characters. They were the survivors of the Garde, who have unimaginable powers. But they were teenagers. Abandonment, friendship, loyalty, these are issues they must deal on a daily basis. And the world is in danger. It couldn't get worse than that.

Talk to teenagers. What can be a better way to make a YA novel more engaging than the other books? You have the teenage readers in mind, so make sure you speak their language. If you're older (and reading this), then this might be a challenge. Spend some time with your nephews (or nieces). Them them like they're your equal, while ignoring the protest of your siblings. Nothing like having a relative as your buddy. You'll write sooner than you plan.

Recall your teenage years. All of us have pass through the teenage phase, and many haven't outgrown it. There are reasons, issues not included. Some look at it as a special phase of their lives. You can recall those memories, even recreate it. This might make your book stand out from the rest of the pack.

Do a thorough research. What if your teenage experience is far different from the premise of your book? Unless you're about to write a Holocaust story, then imagine how your teenage characters will look like. It will help if you listen to the conversations of teenagers. (If you have to ride on the bus, then do it.) A dystopian setting will be relatively easy. (Just look at James Dashner's post-apocalyptic series.) If it's fantasy, then you won't run out of references. (Cassandra Clare's "The Mortal Instruments" is a good example.) Always remember your immature ways.

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