Summer Writing Course | Writing the Young Adult Novel

3 points
Session, date and time TBA
Instructor: Nova Ren Suma
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Young adult fiction is a popular and still-growing category in book publishing that encompasses all genres—fantasy, paranormal, romance, historical, science fiction, dystopian, coming-of-age realism, literary fiction, and more. YA books are written for a core audience of teenagers, but their reach often crosses over to adult readers, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green being well-known recent examples. What most YA novels have in common are a teenage protagonist and a sense of immediacy—beyond that, anything goes.

In this workshop, we will embark on writing our own YA novels. Each student’s work will be critiqued in weekly writing workshops, with the discussion focusing on guiding each writer to find the best way to tell his or her story. With an eye always on our own work, we will discuss craft issues including outlining and other planning methods, character development, setting, voice, plotting, and revision techniques.  There also will be weekly readings from and discussions about the work of current YA novelists including Gayle Forman, Libba Bray, Matt de la Peña, Courtney Summers, David Levithan, Coe Booth, Sara Zarr, Laurie Halse Anderson, E. Lockhart, and more.

The emphasis, however, will be on writing and critiquing our own work. Students will write up to three chapters of an original YA novel along with a partial chapter outline for their book in progress. In addition, we will touch on practical matters, such as finding an agent and what to expect when working with an editor and a publisher. The class will also include visits from published YA authors who will speak about craft, audience, and getting published.

Tuition & Fees
The 2016 Columbia summer tuition rate will be published in February. The 2015 rate was $1570 per credit, and we anticipate a 5% increase for 2016. 

Materials Fee: $20
For questions about School of the Arts summer courses, including those concerning admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Professional Studies summer team at, or 212-854-9666. With questions about specific course content, please contact Writing Departmental Representative Dorothea Lasky at

About the Instructor


Nova Ren Suma

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novel The Walls Around Us, which is now available from Algonquin YR and was named the #1 Kids’ Indie Next Pick for Spring 2015 and a Best YA Book of the Month for March 2015 on Amazon. more
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