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Writing for Young Adults

ENGL 121.301
instructor(s):
Wednesday 2-5:00pm

Young adult literature is powerful, inventive, and worthy of respect—and those writing it have enormous potential in their hands. This writing workshop will explore the craft of YA literature through creative assignments and readings of texts by both giants in the field and emerging voices, and discussions of student work in a constructive environment. Students will focus on craft concerns crucial to writing about and for teens, such as: voice, point of view, immediacy, pacing, and opening hooks. Students will create writing of their own that pushes the boundaries of form and content, drawing on the many possibilities available in YA literary fiction: blurred genres, unreliable narrators, retellings, and issues of identity and self-discovery. We will look beyond straightforward prose into forms such as epistolary and verse novels and other experimental mashups. We will consider how tolerant YA literature can be of ambiguity, and address the handling of so-called taboo subject matter. Authors we will study as inspirations and models may include Elizabeth Acevedo, Elana K. Arnold, Libba Bray, A. S. King, Justine Larbalestier, Malinda Lo, Kekla Magoon, Anna-Marie McLemore, Emily X.R. Pan, Jason Reynolds, Randy Ribay, and Ibi Zoboi. Come ready to challenge any preconceptions you may have about YA literature and examine what some believe is its greatest potential: to offer young readers a vehicle for recognizing themselves, and for reflecting and even transforming the world around them. Students will write the opening chapters of their own YA novels and produce a final portfolio of creative work that showcases their unique YA voice, with potential for further exploration beyond the confines of this class.