Writing YA

Learn the secrets of successful YA fiction with author Lee Weatherly

This 8-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. You’ll explore your potential within this exciting and diverse age-range of children’s fiction, working in a small group of writers. We’ll be reading a recommended novel through the course and will explore the techniques the author uses in each session before a live Q&A with them in the final session.


Start date: 23 May 2022
Duration: 8 weeks
Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate
Session length: Weekly (final session lasts a fortnight)
Sessions: 7
Price: £495 (inc. VAT where applicable)


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.

You’ll learn in Faber Academy’s online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can balance your learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of fellow learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the sessions. Each group is limited to 15 students or fewer.

You’ll learn from:

  • Videos, podcasts and reading suggestions from course tutor, Lee Weatherly
  • Practical writing exercises to help you experiment and practise your skills as you work on your novel
  • Guided discussions with your group
  • Group webinars with your tutor on Zoom
  • Live Q&A with guest YA author
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers

You’ll need:

  • 5-7 hours per week to work through the course
  • A notebook and pen or pencil, if you like to make notes by hand
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free

*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.

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

This is a Faber Academy course, so you need to book through their website.

Ready to start writing?

Price: £495 (inc. VAT where applicable)
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