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Book Review: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies

Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies book coverThe newest book in the For Dummies line is dedicated to writing young adult fiction, and true to the series’ tag line, it does make “everything easier.”

Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies is written by Deborah Halverson, who knows a lot about the subject. She worked as an editor for Harcourt for 10 years and is the author of two young adult novels, Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth, both published by Delacorte/Random House. Deborah also founded the DearEditor.com website, dedicated to helping writers. (Check out an interview with Deborah.)

In her first non-fiction book, Deborah gives readers a complete beginning to end guide to writing novels for teens. She’s quick to stress that this book isn’t just for writers who want to create stories for teens; it’s for writers of middle-grade fiction as well. MG novels are for children ages 10-14, while YA is for 12 and up.

Now, when I say this book offers advice for all the steps from beginning to end, I mean it. Deborah gives tips on creating a good writing space and carving out — and protecting — time to write. Very important! And she goes through things to look for in book contracts and everything in between.

One of the things I love about this book is that throughout, Deborah reminds us that writing is an individual skill. As she says early on, “There’s no such thing as a recipe for the Great American YA Novel. Too much depends on how each writer blends the ingredients together. But there are ingredients, and I give those to you here. The bewitching brew you concoct with them is up to you.” Too true.

Here are just a few of the ingredients Deborah discusses:

  • characters
  • point of view
  • voice
  • dialog
  • plotting and subplots
  • word choice
  • grammar
  • research
  • critique groups
  • revising
  • manuscript formatting
  • submitting to agents and editors
  • publishing options
  • marketing

Phew! And that just scratches the surface.

Best of all, Deborah’s casual writing style makes this book easy to read and enjoy.

Is this the only book you’ll ever need on writing YA fiction? Possibly, because it covers so much. Of course, subjects such as characters, plotting and grammar are huge, with entire books available on each one — what writer doesn’t have multiple writing books on their shelves? But Deborah has provided a great resource that will get any writer typing and on their way to writing young adult fiction. I highly recommend this book.

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