The Buzz Girls Dish Out Advice to Aspiring Writers of Young Adult Fiction

It’s the middle of our month-long focus on Aspiring Authors here on the RT Daily Blog and while we’ve brought you writing advice from authors across many genres, there’s one hot genre we haven’t touched – until today. Get tips on how to improve your young adult manuscript from seven authors turned bloggers, The Buzz Girls. These multi-published YA authors (and friends) have joined forces on the blogosphere to chat about books, boys and all sorts of buzz. Today they are giving advice to aspiring writers for young adult fiction based on their collective experiences. You can follow the Buzz Girls daily on their blog at


Tera Lynn Childs

Keeping Your Voice: Just Because It’s For Teens Doesn’t Mean It’s Not You
Let's face it, we're not teens anymore. (Most of us haven't been for quite some time.) But if you're worried that your voice won't sound "teen" enough for YA, then relax. The key to writing for teens isn't in sounding (or trying to sound) like one. It's in creating a relatable teen protagonist who either encounters situations that are inherently teen or reacts to situations in a believably teen way. Find your character, put her in your story, and write what happens using your authentic voice. Anything less will sound fake, and teens can spot a fraud from a universe away.

You can learn more about this author at


Dona Sarkar Mishra

Tapping the Untapped Audience
There are many audiences for YA fiction out there. There’s the group who likes older YA, about teens who are in college or about to go to college, there’s edgy YA that covers some of the more controversial issues such as drug use, gangs, teen pregnancy and such. There’s sweet YA that includes things like family relationships and first love and there’s the plethora of “genres” such as paranormal, fantasy, multi-cultural, historical, mystery and much, much more. Why not try going after a genre that may have many fans out there in the YA audience, yet there may not be a lot of books available on the market? When I was a teen, I longed for a Nancy Drew-type series featuring a multi-cultural heroine who was in college. To this day, I haven’t seen such a series or even a book! When I did my book tour in Detroit, Michigan a few years ago, I kept hearing the same thing over and over, “I was so excited to see people with my last name in the book!” or “My boyfriend’s name is Ishaan!” I realize how much teens related to stories about people “like them.” This may not always just be racial, it may be the location your book is set in, the religion, or even the same parental style as characters in the book.

You can learn more about this author at


Stephanie Hale

Using Pop Culture References to Connect With Teen Readers
A good way to connect with your teen readers is to reference pop culture. The important thing to remember is that you don't want to overdo it. Teens love feeling like they have something in common with the fictional character they are reading about and this is where some pop culture references can come in handy. Just be careful to choose references that are still going to be “in” in a few years. As tempting as it might be to reference Snooki in your work in progress, she probably won't be around in five years. There are many bands, brands, and movies that are classics and you are better off referencing those. I knew that one of my characters would have a purse fetish so I did some research on some of the most popular bags. I picked a company who had been in business for over thirty years. So hopefully if someone picks up my book in ten years it won't seem dated. Think of any references you make as condiments, and your characters and their world as the meal. You wouldn't go dumping a whole bottle of ketchup on a meal it took you an hour to cook, so just use them to spice up your already delicious novel.

You can learn more about this author at


Wendy Toliver

Common Issues That Teens Face
If you’re writing teen fiction, it’s necessary to create a world that’s centered on the teen mindset, whether you are a teen or you haven’t been a teen for decades. Just like any character, you’ll want to know your teen character(s) inside and out, and of course your characters will have unique personalities, goals, flaws, and strengths. But here are some issues that most teens deal with, no matter what type of story you’re writing: clashes with parents or guardians, challenges in school/training, fitting in (or, conversely, standing out), economical strains, curiosity about love and sex, and the treacherous bridge between childhood and adulthood. Of course there are others, but these are examples of themes that will be relatable to your readers; and writing “real” characters—whether they have supernatural abilities or spend their afternoons cleaning stables—is the golden key when it comes to writing for the best audience in the world, teens. 

You can learn more about this author at


Tina Ferraro

Read and Write With Abandon! It’s Not Only Fun, It’s Research!
I love talking to teens about their reading and writing, and sharing that when I was their age, I was an avid reader and writer, too, but that it wasn't until later that I would realize how important all that early "research" was. While I thought I was simply taking a breather from the stresses of real life, it turned out that I was actually developing a list of teen storylines, themes and issues intrigued me---most of which remain clear in my mind today. So I always encourage teen writers to read with abandon, and write stories and keep journals, even if they don't want to show them around. For they are prepping for their future careers...and how wonderful is it that today's "fun" will someday count as "work" already done?

You can learn more about this author at


Heather Davis

How to Keep Yourself Motivated to Write
Even if you’re writing a YA story just for fun, it takes motivation to get the words down on the page. And if you’re hoping to complete a novel, self-discipline is a must. Try to make a daily practice of writing – or at least thinking about your story, jotting plot notes or character sketches down. If you need to schedule the writing time on your calendar to make it happen, do it. I get inspired in the morning, when my mind is foggy yet fresh. I sit down to write for an hour before my busy day begins – it’s a great way to kick things off, and knowing that I’ve got my pages done for the day makes the rest of the day guilt-free. More writing time later in the day becomes an added bonus – time when I can really escape into the story. Like me, you might want to keep a log of the time you spend each day on the story and how many pages you complete each session. Seeing your time add up in the log and your manuscript grow and mature is the best motivation of all.

You can learn more about this author at


Marley Gibson

Bottom Line: Write, Write, Write…and Never Give Up!
If writing young adult fiction (or any genre for that matter) is your true dream, then don’t just talk about writing…do it. So many times I talk to aspiring authors who will tell me their great story idea, yet, when I ask how much they’ve written, oftentimes, they haven’t done anything. In order to be an author, you have to write. Sure, you can read how-to books and research the market and go to conferences and read message boards, but what it all boils down to is you have to put in the work. You have to sit at your computer and get the story out of your head. And then, when it’s completed, polished, edited, revised, and critiqued, you have to send it out into the publishing world to be judged by agents and editors. Don’t be afraid of rejection, edits, or revisions. They are part of the business that you will have to deal with. You will get rejected along the way. It happens to the best of us. But you persevere through the challenges that only serve to make you a better writer. Be tenacious and never give up. Because one day, you never know what will jump out at an agent or editor. Write because you have to. Write because it’s your dream. Write because you’ll explode if you don’t. If it’s truly your dream, no matter how long it takes, never give up.

You can learn more about this author at

Want more from The Buzz Girls? Check out their antics on their blog at, where all week long they will be hosting a series of special giveaways!