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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > COMPETITION SPECIAL - October 2016 > Writing YA: Teenage kicks

Writing YA: Teenage kicks


Perhaps fittingly, young adult fiction is constantly changing and often misunderstood. Sophie Hickman, venue manager at the YA Shot festival, corrects the misconceptions and explains how to get started

Young adult (YA) literature has grown fast: so fast that many people still don’t really know what it is. What is YA fiction? Come to that, what is a young adult? Why are so many YA books being read by adults? Aren’t they all about beautiful young people in clichéd romantic relationships? If some YA novels really are excellent and complex, surely they are wasted on the young?

Young adult books are aimed at young people (from early teens to early twenties) and normally have teenage protagonists. They deal with themes and issues that concern young people: first love, grief, family problems, the horrible process of trying to become an adult.

Catherine Johnson, author of The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo, sums up YA’s appeal: ‘[It] does complex characters and situations in a totally accessible way. Big ideas are laid open. Plus it’s such a brilliant time to write about – full of firsts.’

YA lends itself to fantastic stories, whether they’re science fiction, contemporary or historical – or a mixture of all three. Most people feel like their world’s falling apart at some point when they’re a teenager (if not multiple times a week). There’s schoolwork to do, friendships and family relationships to navigate, decisions to make about the future and how on earth you’re going to make your own way in the world.

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