How to write for the Teen scene

Writing for the Young Adult market is the same as it is for any genre. The first rule as with all writing is to know your audience. This genre spans a great age distance; preteens to adults love reading the adventures full of magic and creativity that is one of the staples of books in this arena.

There are several common mistakes made by Newbies when setting their hand to writing for Teens (myself included :). I will cover only a few. I believe the outcome differs with each individual writer and with each book; I am only able to account for my own experience…

Top 5 mistakes made by Newbies writing YA fiction

Mistake #1: Writing down to the audience.
Many Newbie’s who write the books loved and adored by the 11-18 year old set, at times pen their beloved creations more so for one age group, but commit to a mass marketing of all . So, where an 11 year old who might be expected to follow the adventures of Nan and the Neighborhood detectives, solving mysteries before bedtime is enthralled; the 18 year old high school senior may not be excited about going on the adventures of your fabulous tween detectives! So, basically even when deciding to write YA, know which target audience WITHIN that group you are attempting to reach.

Mistake#2 the Cool Factor
Many Newbie’s mistakenly believe that when writing for teens, then of course their writing and characters much be cool:)….but what is cool to one person, or group is not to another. So, what should be exhibited, and hopefully our young people are taught and exhibiting in their own lives; that they should be themselves. So the characters in Young Adult stories should be true and real, if not then this too will be recognized and rejected by the reader.

Mistake#3 Slang
There should not be any. I mean, do not get me wrong, slang can be used if that is simply the way the character speaks. In other words, it should be in line with the character’s personality and what is happening in the story. Anything else will be distracting

Mistake#4 Too Happy?
Newbie’s sometimes make the mistake that the stories have to be happy…ALL the time. Really, is anyone happy all the time? No, adults are not and neither are teens. No, I am not saying that the story has to be gruesome. But there can be conflicts and problems, tensions for the young people to work through. This really is okay:)

Mistake#5 Writing from their own teen years
Some Newbie’s, who’s old enough for this to be a problem (myself included:); make the mistake of writing for teenagers based on what was happening when they were teens. Now of course, placing in details and such that aide in helping teens grow is important, they can learn from us. But fads from decades ago, unless a time period story, might not appeal to today’s teens.

So basically, know your audience, get around young people, whether through those in your family, volunteering (Boys/Girls club). Read teen books, magazines, listen to their music; talk with teens…and really listened to them, all of this will make your characters real and appealing to today’s young people.

Michelle Cornwell-Jordan
Guest post by Michelle Cornwell-Jordan
Bio: Michelle Cornwell-Jordan is a book lover, with YA paranormal adventures as her favorite genre, although she can be a glutton for any young adult title. Michelle’s other love is writing, Michelle has been writing about as long as she has been a bibliophile! Losing herself in a fantasy world that she or others have created is how she loves spending her spare time...
One last thing about Michelle, she believes that she has her own secret powers:)

Night School: Vampire Hunter


Fifteen year old Dasheen Bellamy’s world is turned upside down, when she is accused of killing her father and godmother. Dasheen cannot remember the events of the night her world is destroyed, but she feels inside that she is innocent; due to lack of evidence against her and with no other family; Dasheen and her younger brother Jordan, are sent to the elusive and mysterious Ame’ Academy ; a residential school where all is not what it appears.
There all goes well, until Jordan, begins to become distant and behave strangely as if he is afraid of something or someone. Jordan is transferred to Ame’ Academy’s Night School track, which is usually only open to special cases.
In order to discover what is happening with her brother, Dasheen is finally allowed to also transfer, attending classes in the evening while the rest of the world sleeps. Soon Dasheen’s world changes again as she discovers that things out of fairytales and horror stories exist, that she has ancient powers and is the major player in a mystical prophecy; and then she falls in love with a boy, whose mission is to see that she is destroyed before her destiny is fulfilled


  1. Some of these rules can be set to other readers too.

  2. Oh most defintely! These are suggestions that can be used for any genre or manner of writing! Like I said,these suggestions come from mistakes I have made myself:)It's a learning process...and I am always learning:)


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