Tips for YA Writing from Literary Agent Regina Brooks -- Plus signed book giveaway!

Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal

I recently read Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary Agency. Brooks gave some useful writing tips, and I'll share six of my favorites here.

1. To get into young adult minds, there are the usual techniques of eavesdropping on their conversations and talking to them. But for a high-tech option, try going on Facebook. Teens these days live out much of their lives on the internet and it's a great way to see how they think.

2. On coincidences in stories: It's much easier to get away with a coincidence if it makes the characters situation worse. If a coincidence happens to solve one of the characters problems, it will seem like a copout.

3. Focus on what is unique about the setting of your novel. How does this particular town, planet, or culture  shape the behavior of the characters in a way that another setting wouldn't?

4. If you are writing for particular age group and don't know what vocabulary is appropriate, spelling and reading textbooks at that grade level can give you a general idea.

5. People often recommend reading your manuscript aloud to check the writing. Brooks recommends against this because you, as the author, already know how you're supposed to inflect all the sentences. She recommends instead to have someone else read the manuscript to you, both with natural inflection and in a flat monotone.

6. On theme: Brooks describes theme as the moral of a fairytale. She spends an entire chapter explaining the concept, but one tip that stuck with me was that the theme should play a major role in the protagonist’s greatest choice -- the choice that resolves the conflict.

I received a review copy of this book from the author to review.


  1. ooooo I especially like number two!!!

    PS Hi Livia! I miss you!

  2. Great tips! Here is my link to the post on Twitter:

  3. I twitted!

  4. Whaddya know, I'm a YA writer. This book would be a great addition to my library. I tweeted:!/amberargyle

  5. What a lucky coincidence: my coincidences are never beneficial. #5 also sounds like it could be good advice, but I'll probably ignore it because I don't know anyone who deserves such diabolical, monotonous punishment. Nevertheless, great stuff, Livia. Thanks!

    And yay! Secret RSS code! (Mine translated to "Always drink your Ovaltine.")

  6. Duly tweeted!

    I appreciate tip #6, tying the theme to the protagonist's greatest dilemma.

  7. Ooh, I definitely think I need this book now, thanks. Twittered!


  8. Great tips! Here's my link!

  9. I tweeted.!/booksnbrains

    Wow! I really need all these tips and more. Trying to write a YA novel (have only written picture books and one MG novel).

    Thanks for the opportunity.