A great Middle Grade (MG) or Young Adult (YA) novel will push you to the edge of your seat and quite possibly pull you off it. It will connect you with characters and events and circumstances (and times and places) that may be familiar or boggling. It will elate you or strike you with grief or make you crazy with suspense. A great MG or YA novel can make you chortle or furious. It can change you.
Great writing, and probably all great art, seems inevitable, as though not created, but discovered whole. After all, the characters are so real. The plot so compelling. The voice so right. So, it seems there could never have been a time without such words as "It's a sin to kill a mockingbird," or, "Where's papa going with that ax?," or "Come back to the raft ag'in, Huck honey."
Probably the ability to write a novel is genetically endowed. Some can do it, some (who are whip smart) can't. You have to have just the right sort of brain for the job as a mathematician or musician or mechanic needs just the right brain for their work. If you're going to write novels you have to be a long-distance runner, not a sprinter (who is better suited to picture books). A fair predictor or perhaps pre-requisite of ability to write novels is whether you love them. Writers relish words as chefs relish food.
As with chefs, there's much technique that can help you to channel the talents you possess. How do you form a plot? How do you create a real character? What is voice and how do you write with it? How do you start? How do you finish? There are no definitive answers, but there is good general wisdom. This online course that you can take at any pace you like from anywhere with an internet connection has condensed much of this wisdom and shares it.
It's comprised of six lessons by highly accomplished YA and MG novelists (Pamela Smith Hill and Christine Fletcher) as well as an esteemed children's book editor-turned-agent (Rachel Orr). I, David Greenberg, who have written mainly picture books, but also one MG novel, administer. The teachers with whom you will interact are all published MG or YA novelists. I'm one of them.
1. Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
2. The Nuts and Bolts of Good Writing
3. Strong Beginnings in Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature
4. Conflict, Crisis, and Resolution: Plotting the Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel
5. Unforgettably Conflicted: Creating Memorable Characters for Middle Grade or Young Adult Novels
6. Voice in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
7. Writing the first chapter of your own novel
8. If you wish, for an additional charge, we will send your manuscript to a practicing, professional Middle Grade or Young Adult writer for critique. The price for this will vary depending on the amount of writing you'd like reviewed and the writer available for critique.
After you complete a lesson, you'll e-mail it to your instructor (a successful, professional, practicing MG or YA author) who will respond within ten days with feedback. You will then have the chance to try it again for yet more feedback, up to an hour of instructor time total per lesson.
And then, as a final exercise, you will have the opportunity to write your own original manuscript incorporating all the information you've received from the lessons. Your author-instructor will work with you concentrating on one chapter, probably the first one to help make it the best possible. He or she will give advice on submitting it. So, as a grand total, you will have up to seven hours of instructional feedback from your author-instructor.
Schedule for Course
The course is online and is one-on-one between you and your instructor. So, it can start any time you like and proceed at any pace you like, swift or sedate. In other words, starting time and pace are completely up to you. Start now or, if it's more convenient, start in several months.
Graduate Level Credit
This course is available for graduate level credit through University of the Pacific.