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Getting To Know You…

August 2nd, 2019

First, thanks to Marisa for last week’s thoughtful post. We all know that when we’re writing for children we need to be particularly sensitive to their needs – and (let’s be honest) sensitive to the perceptions of the adults and teachers who are often the ones who buy the books for them!

On the other hand we can be dismissive of teenagers – they often come across as inscrutable, worldly wise beyond their years and Teflon coated. But, their attitude is often just that – a thin veneer. And you’ve got to take that into account if you want to write for them successfully.

So, if you do decide that this is the market for you, how should you approach it?

First, and most obvious, read, read and read more. If you don’t know what’s already out there find out. Why not have a look at some of the books written by Lauren Oliver, Angie Thomas and Laurie Halse Anderson (all American) and on this side of the Atlantic, Malorie Blackman, Juno Dawson, Nikesh Shukla and Marcus Sedgwick.

But don’t just read the books, also read about the genre. Lots of YA authors have websites and blogs, or you can follow them on Twitter.  #UKYAChat is a Twitter event held fortnightly on Fridays, 8.00-9.00pm. Or there’s #ukteenchat – Tuesdays 8.00-9.00 fortnightly.

Finally, don’t pretend you know how teens think, if you don’t have any contact with them in daily life. Spend time with them so that you know their views and how they talk (online and face-to-face). Also, try to talk to young people from various backgrounds. And best of all, if you have a son, daughter, nephew, niece or sibling to advise you, ask them to read through what you’ve written and tell you if you’ve ‘lost the plot’ when it comes to theme, emotions and dialogue. I know it’s a tall order, but it’s the only way you’re going to write  realistic books – books with empathy –  that get a firm fan base.

Moving on, our 2019 Poetry Competition has now closed for entries. But do keep going back to our website so that you can find out who the winners are and when our next competition is launched.

And before I leave you this week I’ll just mention a competition that caught my eye. It’s The Young Walter Scott Prize 2019 – the only UK creative writing prize for budding historical writers. There are two categories: 11-15 years and 16-19 years and the closing date is 31st October. Entries must be 800-2000 words and can be prose, poetry, drama… as long as they are set in the past.  They must be historically relevant and accurate, original and well written with good dialogue and plotting.

For the winner there is a £500 travel grant; a week at the Borders Book Festival 2020 and a chance to see their work in print. Full entry details can be found here.

My guest next week is Peter Jackson who’ll be talking about how to start writing poetry – even if you’re a beginner!

Author: Diana Nadin



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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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