University of Iowa

Kickstart Your First YA Novel

Weeklong July 08 to July 13 2018

“…I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing every day and epic dangers.”         Sherman Alexie


Do you remember what it felt like to be a teenager? Do you have an idea for a YA novel that will not let go of you? This workshop is for beginning YA novelists who need a safe space to explore ideas and solicit feedback about story lines, suspense, characters, structure, inciting events, and setting. You will be assigned to read and come prepared to discuss at least two out of the following four YA novels—The Hate You Give (Angie Thomas), The Fault in Our Stars (John Greene), Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell), and Bone Gap (Laura Ruby). We will ask why these novels are memorable and peek behind the curtain to discern what strategies the writers chose and how to employ those strategies in your own work. We will write or brainstorm every day, and you will receive gentle feedback. I prefer gentle feedback at the start of a novelharsh critiques can sometimes cut short the creative process at the beginning. You will return home with your opening scene, deep character studies, and a sense of structurethe rough three acts of your YA novel.