Master Mondays, Week One: The YA Novel class recap

Master Mondays, Week One: The YA Novel class recap

Figure 1.

Figure 1.


Our first class meeting was lovely! There are thirteen of us in the class and the interests and experience brought to the table are of a deliciously wide range.

Here are some things they’re interested in addressing in our 12 weeks together:

– diverse characters: writing honestly and sensitively and with creditability, especially if you’re writing about someone different than you; how to write about another culture w/o co-opting it
– spirituality in YA novels
– character arc: aligning a character’s inner and outer journey
– revision & self-editing
– parents in YA stories: helicopter parents, neglectful parents
– the publishing process
– social media presence and platforms
– getting the language “right”
– what you can/can’t say in YA: swearing, being real
– plot and tension and pacing
– how to share theme without being heavy-handed
– point of view
– structuring scenes
– writing dialogue, especially teenaged dialogue
– voice: what is that, anyway?
– YA short stories: do they exist?
– the epistolary form
– addressing trauma in a subtle way
– adding humor into the story
– establishing a personal writing practice

Needless to say, I’m very excited to discuss all these issues, too!

Figure 1. Norman Reedus making the heart hands. The sole excep tion to my rule of anyone doing this, which usually makes me want to barf.

Figure 2. Norman Reedus making the heart hands. Hooray for happy feelings!


After the jump is our class activity recap, which I’ll be posting each week for students who miss class and for anyone who is interested as well.

From the class log:

  1. discussed class overview, including manuscript review guidelines
  2. introductions: to Loft and each other
  3. Activity: make notes of the following: 1) personal adolescent experience (describe yourself & interests as a teenager) 2) readership (what kinds of books have you read, including YA and other genres) 3) list what topics & themes you are interested in & write about
  4. Writing: what are your goals for this class? what are some topics you’d like to see discussed in this class?
  5. Short history of YA: from 1970’s to present
  6. Activity: students situated their own stories/selves e.g. “I want to be the Sarah Dessen of boy narrators, except with more sex & drinking”
  7. Discussion: what is the definition of YA?
  8. Tropes: identifying common YA tropes and which ones each of us use
  9. Closing activity: pick one trope that you use: why are you using it? how does it fit your story? how are you making it distinctive?

Books/Authors referenced:

Norma Klein, M.E. Kerr, Paul Zindel, Chris Crutcher, Robert Heinlein (Scouting stories for boys), Robert Cormier (The Chocolate War, I Am The CheeseJudy Blume, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer

Sarah Dessen: The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, The Moon and Moore, Lock & Key, Dreamland, Keeping the Moon, That Summer

Leigh Bardugo: The Grisha Trilogy

Andrew Smith: Grasshopper Jungle, 100 Sideways Miles, The Marbury Lens (appearance/reading at Addendum Books on October 16th)

E. Lockhart: We Were Liars, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, the Ruby Oliver novels (writes middle grade novels as Emily Jenkins)

Madeline L’Engle, Corey Whaley, Larry Doyle (I Love You Beth Cooper), Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak), Sarah Maas, Morgan Matson, M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Deb Caletti, Melina Marchetta, Rainbow Rowell.

Pete Hautman: Godless

Meg Rosoff: How I Live Now

Elizabeth Wein: Code Name Verity

A.S. King:  Ask The Passengers, Dust of 100 Dogs, Reality Boy, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future


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