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FICT 49 W — Writing the Groundbreaking Young Adult Novel

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 26—Sep 1
Drop Deadline: Jul 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $850
Instructor(s): Malena Watrous
Limit: 17
Jun 26—Sep 1
10 weeks
Drop By
Jul 4
3 Units
Malena Watrous
At a moment when “dead-tree publishing” seems imperiled, young adult fiction is experiencing a renaissance. It’s a robust and varied genre that runs the gamut from contemporary to historical, paranormal to science fiction, and contains all of the brilliance and complexity of adult fiction (some would argue more so). Young adult and middle-grade novels tend to be tightly plotted and quickly paced, with an idiosyncratic and believable voice, often raising the kind of challenging moral questions that teens in particular struggle over. The “kid lit” books that become beloved grow from original ideas, feature nuanced characters and sharp dialogue, and take unpredictable twists and turns. Kids don’t like being preached to, and resist moralizing, as much as they’re open to exploring difficult moral questions. In this course, we will study bestselling and critically acclaimed novels by such authors as John Green and R.J. Palacio, using their work as springboards for weekly guided craft exercises from which to build your opening chapters. This is not a workshop course. Students will submit 750 words of new writing each week and work in small groups. Each student will work on developing a solid premise, plot, cast of characters, and opening section of their novel. Expect to have fun and learn a lot about how to write a groundbreaking young adult or middle-grade novel.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.

Malena Watrous, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford; Online Writing Lead Instructor, Stanford Continuing Studies

Malena Watrous is the author of the novel If You Follow Me, which received a Michener-Copernicus award. She frequently reviews books for such publications as The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Mary Kole, Writing Irresistible Kidlit (ISBN 1599635763)
(Required) R J Palacio, Wonder (ISBN 0375869026)
(Required) John Green , The Fault in Our Stars (ISBN 978-0142424179)
(Required) Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall (ISBN 0061726818)