How to write young adult fiction: A practical masterclass with Emily Barr | Guardian Masterclasses

You need only pop your head into a bookshop to see that young adult – or YA – fiction is one of the most popular commercial genres in the world. There is a good reason for this: people aged 12 to 18 tend to want fiction that captures much of the imagination and escapism of children’s books, but with more grit, more reality. They want to see the sticky or difficult parts of their lives reflected back at them. They want to feel seen.

In this highly practical creative writing masterclass with award-winning author Emily Barryou will learn about the fascinating – and short – history of YA as we know it, as well as what differentiates it from novels targeted at other age groups.

Through writing exercises and looking at other texts, you will gain a solid understanding of what makes good (or bad) YA writing, to give you the skills to begin drafting your own ideas. Emily will guide you through the importance of your character’s journey, and how to write for a teenage audience without being patronizing. She will also provide you with tips for strengthening specific writing tools: setting, dialogue and space.

Emily will also be joined by special guest Ruth Knowlesa book editor at Penguin Random House Children’s, who will offer insights into the YA publishing process, and give you the opportunity to explore your own potential publishing journey.

This is an unmissable masterclass for anyone who wants to begin planning and developing their own YA novel, with a view to gaining the necessary tools and insights to publish a debut.

This course is for …

course content

  • What is YA fiction?

  • How does it differ from writing for adults?

  • Coming of age: the character’s journey as the crux of your book

  • Writing for and about teenagers without being patronizing

  • Setting, dialogue and pace

  • Insights into the YA publishing process

  • Q&A

mentor profile

Emily Barr is an experienced creative writing tutor and the award-winning author of 19 published novels, including five YA novels. Her first book for young adults, The One Memory of Flora Banks, was nominated for the Carnegie medal and published in 27 countries. The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods, published in 2019, was also nominated for the Carnegie. Her de ella next YA book de ella, Ghosted, is published in May 2022.

Ruth Knowles is the publisher of the 6+ list at Penguin Random House Children’s. She and her team edit and publish across all genres in fiction and nonfiction. She has worked with Emily on all of her YA novels. Ruth also works with the likes of Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman, Lucy Hawking and Susie Day.


Date: Thursday 19 May 2022
Time: 6.30pm – 9pm BST
Price: £65 (plus £3.56 booking fee)

** Book & ticket price UK only – +£7.63 – Emily’s newest YA novel Ghosted is published on 12 May

This masterclass is available globally. If you are joining us from outside the United Kingdom, please use this time zone converter to check your local live streaming time.

6.30pm BST | 7.30pm EST | 10:30 a.m. PST | 1:30 p.m. EDT

You will be sent a link to the webinar 24 hours and 2 hours before the start time of 6pm (BST)

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Once a purchase is complete we will not be able to refund you where you do not attend or if you cancel your event booking. Please see our terms and conditions for more information on our refund policy.

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