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Writing for Young Adults

ENGL 121.301
instructor(s):
W 1:45-4:45pm

Young adult literature is powerful, inventive, and worthy of respect—and those writing it have enormous potential in their hands. Part workshop and part seminar, this class 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, and we will look beyond straightforward prose into forms such as epistolary and verse novels and other experimental mashups. Students will create writing of their own that pushes the boundaries of form and content, drawing on some of the many possibilities in YA literary fiction such as blurred genres, retellings, and issues of identity and self-discovery. Authors we will study as inspirations and models may include Elizabeth Acevedo, Libba Bray, Malinda Lo, Samantha Mabry, Kekla Magoon, Jennifer Mathieu, Anna-Marie McLemore, Emily X.R. Pan, Randy Ribay, Nicola Yoon, 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 short pieces throughout the semester as well as the opening chapters of their own YA novels. They will produce a final portfolio of creative work that showcases their unique YA voice, with potential for further exploration beyond the confines of this class.