Hello wonderful friends!

It’s time for another Spotlight Week, where I feature a book review, a matching author interview to go with it—and of course, a book giveaway!

This week I train the spotlight on another wonderful book I’ve discovered:

Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by the fabulous Deborah Halverson.

I had been writing and re-writing my Middle Grade Fantasy book for almost two years when I decided that it was time to set it aside and start working on another book.

This time I wanted to write a Young Adult Fantasy novel. I had a great story idea but I had no clue how to start writing a YA book.

I knew I needed help and I knew just where to find it. I began searching online for books about writing YA, and after comparing tables of content and reviews on several books I found, I decided to that Deborah Halverson’s Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies was the only book I’d ever need to help me write my first ever YA book.

And I was so right!

Product Details

Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (July 5, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0470949546

ISBN-13: 978-0470949542

Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

About the Author

Author Deborah Halverson

Deborah Halverson certainly has the skills and experience to talk about how to write YA books. (You’ll learn more about her in Wednesday’s author interview). She spent 10 years as an editor for Harcourt Children’s Books until she decided to try a hand at writing. She wrote the award-winning teen novels Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth. She also founded DearEditor.com, a very helpful website for writers.

About the Book  (From the Back Cover)

The book’s back cover reads:

Your hands-on, friendly guide to writing young adult fiction

Are you interested in writing a young adult novel, but aren’t sure how to develop a style that appeals to young readers? Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies gives you tricks of the trade and proven tips on all the steps to write a marketable YA book, from developing an idea to publishing your manuscript.

Get ready to write — get the scoop on everything you need to know before you begin writing, like pinpointing your audience, finding an angle that’ll make your story stand out, and making use of outlines

What a novel concept — find out how to shape your plot, create teen-friendly characters, develop a convincingly youthful voice, write natural dialogue, and find techniques for connecting with your audience

Put on your editor’s cap — discover how to rewrite and polish your story to transform it from a first draft to a seamless, fluid final draft

Get published — find the right agent and/or editor, craft a one-of-a-kind submission package, and promote your novel once it’s published

Open the book and find:

  • Helpful sidebars from notable YA authors
  • Ideas for timeless themes
  • Four easy steps to writing a killer hook
  • Tips on writing believable characters, settings, and dialogue
  • How to edit and revise with confidence
  • Answers to the most common publishing contract questions
  • Common pitfalls to avoid
  • Advice on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing

Learn to:

  • Develop a writing style that appeals to young readers
  • Turn your ideas into a compelling manuscript through writing exercises
  • Submit your novel to young adult publishers

How the Book Helps Writers (Or My Review)

Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies is a gem of a find. I usually buy at least two books when I want to learn about a particular topic, but Deborah Halverson’s book was so comprehensive and detailed that I didn’t need any other book!

Like most of the For Dummies books, Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies is written in a style that’s simple and easy to understand. Deborah Halverson’s casual way of explaining concepts in the book isn’t only informative, but actually very engaging. It’s like having a one on one session with your favorite English teacher.

The book is divided into five parts:

Part I: Getting Ready to Write Young Adult Fiction, gives us the lowdown on on YA fiction. Here, Deborah helps us understand what YA Fiction is, and how and why it’s different from other genres. She also talks about how to face the challenges of writing YA, and how to exploit the unique opportunities that writing a YA book presents.

More importantly, Deborah discusses things we must know before we even begin to write a YA story. She gives great insight into the minds of the teens we wish to write for. She also lists popular themes that teenagers can relate to, no matter what generation they may belong to.

In Part II: Writing Riveting Young Adult Fiction, Deborah gives various techniques and exercises to turn our ideas into a solid first draft. She explains how to shape a plot, sculpt believable and memorable characters, develop a youthful narrative voice and natural teen dialogue, and manipulate setting to enhance all these elements.

Part III: Editing, Revising and Formatting Your Manuscript shows us how to assess the story we’ve written so far, identify problem areas and perform a plan to fix these storytelling/grammatical problems.  Part III also offers great tips and techniques for revising and editing our manuscript so that the story flows into a perfectly executed final draft.

Part IV: Getting Published tells us how to get our manuscripts out there. She discusses how to find the right agent and/or editor, craft a great query letter and synopsis, and create an enticing submission package. She also talks about self-publishing and other marketing tips and strategies.

And finally, in Part V: The Part of Tens, Deborah discusses other helpful topics such as common pitfalls in writing YA fiction, facts about book contracts, and ways to make the most of writing conferences.

Other important tidbits are sprinkled throughout the book such as important things we should keep in mind as we read onward, trouble spots we should watch out for, extra in depth technical information about writing, and exercises we could do to help us get out of writer’s block.

The book is incredibly well organized and can be read from cover to cover, or by part.

I found her chapters on Creating Teen Friendly Characters and on Building the Perfect Plot the most effective when I began writing my own YA novel. I actually shared some of the book’s exercises with my writing group members when I did a session on plotting and they all found it incredibly helpful.

I wish this book had been around when I first started writing.  Deborah’s tips, techniques and exercises apply not only to writing YA fiction, but also to writing any other kind of book.

Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies is the only book you’ll ever need if you wish to learn how to write great middle grade or young adult fiction.

Deborah Halverson is debuting her Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies book trailer this week. Go to DearEditor.com to watch the book trailer.

To celebrate the release of her book trailer, Deborah is also giving away a FREE CRITIQUE of the FIRST 20 PAGES OF YOUR FICTION MANUSCRIPT. You can check out the rules of the giveaway HERE.


Stay tuned for the next post in the Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies Week: An Author Interview with Deborah Halverson on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

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13 Responses to “Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies Week: Book Review”

  1. Sounds excellent for young adult writers!

  2. shelly says:

    Very nice review! Thanks for sharing.

  3. rekha says:

    Excellent review and looks like a good add on to help polish your writing…good luck with the YA attempt.

  4. Sound like a great start and motivator for YA writers.

  5. Bish Denham says:

    Now that sounds like a good reference book to have around. I’ll need to go see if they have one for middle grade. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Sounds like a good book and useful tool, Nutschell.

  7. Thanks for the review! :) It sounds like a good book . . . I’ll have to put that down on my list of writing books to read.

  8. Thanks for posting this most informative review. I love the Dummy series and have read quite a few myself.

  9. Lynda Young says:

    Thanks for the great review. It’s a great book, well worth the read.

  10. Thanks for this review! It sounds like an excellent book.

  11. I am thrilled to read this review–and what a good review it is. I keep hearing about this book and keep meaning to read it. Now I’m really inspired. Thanks!

  12. […] the Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies Spotlight Week, in which I featured a Book Review of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies (WYAFFD), an interview with WYAFFD author Deborah […]

  13. Sarah says:

    Sounds really helpful! I’m writing a teen fiction novel right now… Maybe I should read this one too :) Thanks for the post!

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