Writing YA

The course

Hook teenage readers from page one.

Young Adult fiction confronts the big issues: challenging authority, coming of age and figuring out your place in the world. It’s read avidly by both teens and adults – but how do you write it?

This eight-week online course, run by our partners at Faber Academy, will help you expand your range of techniques, develop authentic characters and a fresh and relatable teenage voice.

Lee Weatherly

Meet your course director

Lee Weatherly

Lee Weatherly (L.A. Weatherly) has written more than 50 books for children and young adults, including the bestselling Angel series, and is published in 20 different languages. She’s passionate about guiding new writing talent and has worked as a mentor across many projects.

In partnership with Faber Academy

Expert guidance from first line to final draft, at the home of one of Britain’s great publishers. We work in partnership with Faber Academy to offer a range of courses for fiction writers at all stages of development – choose from key skills short courses through to advanced novel writing courses.

How it works

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts. In the case of our live workshops, this includes a live online seminar.

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor - a critical part of the writing process.

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

Things to know

Writing YA is an intermediate level course, designed for people who have some writing experience. The course is suitable if you:

  • Are passionate about YA fiction
  • Need the discipline of deadlines, together with a carefully structured approach to developing your novel idea
  • Are keen to further develop your writing techniques
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

Each weekly session explores a different topic and includes reading and writing exercises designed to help you develop a range of creative, practical and critical skills in writing a YA novel. You’ll explore how novel writers use techniques including character, point of view and tense, story and structure, and work towards producing the first chapter of a novel and synopsis.

In each session, you’ll collaborate with a close-knit team of fellow writers to share ideas and feedback on each other’s work.

Session 1: What is YA fiction? – In this opening session, we’ll look at what makes a compelling YA novel and explore concepts, themes, age ranges and average word counts, before working on a back cover blurb for your idea.

Live group webinar with the tutor.

Session 2: Voice and Openings – A strong and vivid voice is a key to drawing readers in and making them connect with your protagonist. We’ll look at immediacy, intimacy and humour, and study voice through a series of successful YA openings, noting how writers use voice to hook readers into the story.

Session 3: Your Cast – This session focuses on creating memorable teen characters that real teens will connect with. We’ll study three different YA characters, break down their appeal, and look at tips on creating an unforgettable protagonist.

Live group webinar with the tutor.

Session 4: Structure, Story and Scene – YA depends on a solid structure: a definite problem or goal, and rising tension all the way. We’ll explore three-act structure, you’ll plot your favourite YA novel onto a graph to see how it fits, and look at beat sheets.

Session 5: Pace and Action – YA is all about keeping it trim and pacey. We’ll look at when to slow down and when to speed up – how to spot the flab and keep the action ticking along using Show Not Tell.

Live group webinar with the tutor.

Session 6: Keeping it Real: Dialogue and Description – The penultimate session focuses on elements that bring depth and veracity to your writing, including how to create dialogue and ways to use description to flesh out your scenes and add immediacy, with a focus on world-building for those writing fantasy or sci-fi.

Live Q&A webinar with featured YA author.

Session 7: Pulling it All Together – Two weeks of quiet writing time as you focus on your final assignment: taking the characters, concept and techniques you have explored through the course, you’ll write a first chapter or prologue for your peers to respond to.

Final group webinar with your tutor during the last week of the course.

Join the Faber Academy alumni

After your course, you can join the online alumni where you’ll meet the growing network of past Faber Academy students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within the online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other Faber Academy courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guest tutors, authors, agents, editors and publishers

Commission a report on your work

If you’d like to receive a personalised, detailed report on your final piece of writing from your course tutor, this is available at an extra cost. You’ll receive detailed written feedback assessing your ideas and writing, plus advice on what steps to take next.

Taking things further

If you’d like to continue on to another Faber Academy course, you’ll receive a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

The team

Meet your course team

Lee Weatherly

Lee Weatherly

YA World Maker

Lee Weatherly (L.A. Weatherly) has written more than 50 books for children and young adults, including the bestselling Angel series, and is published in 20 different languages. She’s passionate about guiding new writing talent and has worked as a mentor across many projects.

More about Lee Weatherly

Paula Winzar


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