1. Your characters need to talk like teenagers. BUT ... they need to talk sensibly. Don't use words like "Bae," "On fleek," or "Goals," because they will probably not be in use anymore when your book finally goes into print. Words like "Cool," "Seriously?" or "Whatever" have more staying power, but should still be used sparingly.
2. Romances need to be believable. Instalove is a no-no, and love triangles are highly dubious. It all comes down to realism -- could these two characters conceivably fall for each other under these circumstances? For some quick tips on writing realistic romance, check out this vlog from Ava Jae.
3. Teenagers are NOT stupid. Sure, there are some teens who are stupid, just like there are some adults who are stupid. But they should be the exception, not the rule. Most teenagers are quite mature, so make sure you reflect that in your writing.
4. Cuss with care. Cuss words are totally acceptable in YA fiction. Just make sure you don't use them gratuitously, because that lessens their impact. Basically, if you have an F-bomb in every other sentence, you probably need to cut a few of them out.
5. Got some diverse characters? Make sure they're not stereotypes. Guys. Stereotypes are BAD, especially when you're writing diverse characters. Underrepresented groups deserve to have realistic representation. Do your research, talk to people of the same group you're writing about, and even employ a sensitivity reader if you can (especially if your main character is from an underrepresented group that you're not a part of). You can find a huge database of sensitivity readers here.
6. Your plot has to make sense. Teenagers are quick to notice inconsistencies and flaws, so make sure your plot is cohesive and sensible.
7. If you're writing literary YA, metaphors and similes won't cut it. Literary fiction is supposed to be about characters and human nature, not fancy words. Make your writing beautiful without making it dense.
8. Heck, throw a couple of text messages in there if you like. Teens aren't always on their phones, but electronics are a really big part of our lives. If your modern-day teen characters never pull out their phones, consider having them use their devices once or twice.
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Do you have any more tips for writing YA? Share in the comments!