Writing Young Adult Fiction: Outline Your YA Novel

Jeffrey R., Writer, editor, designer, poutine lover

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5 Videos (13m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • What Makes A Novel YA?

    • Novel Structure

    • Start Your Outline

    • Final Thoughts


About This Class

J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, John Green, Sherman Alexie—some of the biggest names in fiction these days write for children and young adults. YA fiction covers a variety of genres from the literary realism of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian to the dark, dystopian fantasy of The Hunger Games. YA literature is so compelling that more than a quarter of readers are not teens at all, but rather adults.

If you've ever wanted to write such a story but didn't know where to start, or you started but never got around to finishing, this class is for you. We’ll start by exploring what makes a novel a YA novel and discuss aspects of structure, plot, and pacing and how they help shape your storyline. Next, we'll learn about the three-act structure and the hero's journey as popularized by historian Joseph Campbell, and we'll use them to identify the key turning points in our own story ideas and create dramatic tension. From there, we'll be ready to turn our ideas into an outline that will guide us through our writing.

37 of 40 students recommendSee All

I always knew about the three act structure and hero's journey, but you described them in a way I never thought about before! Thanks so much for the lesson.
Quick overview of two common story structure outlines and good tips for outlining your novel.





Jeffrey R.

Writer, editor, designer, poutine lover

I’m a writer, editor, and graphic designer currently based in St. Louis, Missouri. I'm the author of two novels, Detours (published in 2011) and The Unwanted, a YA fantasy, published in 2014. I'm a graduate of the MFA in creative writing program at the University of British Columbia and currently teach creative writing in the continuing education program at St. Louis Community College.

I tend to lead a bit of a double life: I started my career as a newspaper designer and editor before moving into design and marketing for higher education and not-for-profit institutions. Sometimes I think I could use InDesign with my eyes closed. (I think I could, but I can't say I've tried. Yet.) You can check out my design work here.

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