Writing the Young Adult Novel

This Summer 2014 course is now closed. Please join our mailing list to find out more about our Summer 2015 course offerings.
WRIT S4323
3 Points
Session II: July 7 - August 15
T, R 11:00 AM - 1:10 PM
Instructor: Jennifer Miller
Young adult fiction is a relatively new category in book publishing, but it is growing fast. YA books are written for readers ages 12 to 18, but their popularity often extends well beyond the intended age range; Harry Potter and The Hunger Games being the best-known examples. YA spans a number of subgenres, including paranormal romance, dystopian sci-fi, and coming-of-age realism. The best YA novels feature fully realized characters and a level of emotional complexity that appeal to teens. But YA books often include frightful displays of violence and are unabashed about sex. They also feature swiftly moving plots combined with a young person's unique world view—pairings that are unlike anything found in traditional literary fiction.

In this workshop, we will embark on writing our own YA novels. With our work always at the center of discussion, we will explore the essence of what makes it YA in terms of narrative point of view and subject matter, while also challenging the conventions of genre fiction. By way of example, we will look at books including The Fault in Our Stars (John Green), A Wrinkle In Time (Madeline L'Engle), Go Ask Alice (Beatrice Sparks), Uglies (Scott Westerfeld), and excerpts from blockbuster series like Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. 

For examples of "new adult" or "crossover" fiction we will read excerpts from books like The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger), and Prep (Curtis Sittenfeld). Course work will include selected readings, but the emphasis of the workshop will be on writing and critiquing our own work. Students will write up to three chapters of an original YA or crossover novel along with a partial chapter outline for their book in progress. The class will also include visits from published YA authors who will speak about craft, audience, and getting published.

Tuition & Fees
Most summer courses are offered at the standard Continuing Education tuition rate of $1,512 per point ($4,536 for a 3-point course and $9,072 for a six-point intensive). For more detailed information, please see "tuition and fees":  http://arts.columbia.edu/summer/tuition-fees
Materials fee: $20

About the INstructor

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a debut novel about outcasts at a New England prep school. Called "a darkly comic romp" by the Washington Post, The Year of the Gadfly was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012. Jennifer is also the author of a non-fiction book, Inheriting the Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005), about Israeli and Palestinian teenagers living through the second intifada. Her articles and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Fast Company and the Christian Science Monitor. She holds a MS in Journalism and an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University.
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