Online | Fiction | Seminar

4-Week Fiction Seminar: Demystifying The YA Novel

This class is all about unraveling the myths, misconceptions, and assumptions about young adult fiction. Is it a genre? Does it have to teach a lesson? Is there always a romance? "Novels for teens" have been published for generations, but the concept of "YA" started taking shape in the 1980s and became most well-known outside of "KidLit" publishing in the mid-'00s. In this class, we will discuss the trend-driven era that started the YA boom, and the many ways the market has evolved beyond the kid's table since Twilight made it a household term.

We will also discuss the differences between YA and "adult fiction with young protagonists," why reading level and "age-appropriate content" don't (but can) matter, and where the market is going next. We will look at current YA novels across different genres and styles, such as Last Night At The Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo, Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson, and Darius the Great Is Not OK by Adib Khorram, among others, while paying attention to technique and tone that can be applied to your own writing. Writers should come away from this class with a better understanding of how to approach a YA voice and perspective in their own works in progress or gain inspiration to write something new.

Each class will be split between short lectures, discussions about selected readings, and conversations about your own YA projects. The goal of this course is to provide you with the knowledge and confidence to write your own YA fiction. I will also assign optional writing prompts for you to further explore your own approach to a YA voice and style.

This course is for any writer who is new to YA fiction or is coming back to it after a long hiatus. No prior experience writing for teens is required.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- A deeper understanding of the current Young Adult market as a reader and writer.

- Confidence in writing for a teen audience, and the skills to meet them at their level without talking down.

- Generating new novel ideas to develop and explore further.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Outside of class: Reading assigned novel excerpts, never more than 25 pages total per week, to be discussed in the following class. In class: occasional generative writing exercises to be (optionally) shared. No written peer or instructor feedback will be given.


Week 1: Defining Young Adult Fiction

Week 2: Teen Voice and POV

Week 3: Pacing and Tone

Week 4: Literary, Commercial, & Everything in Between

Sarah LaPolla

Sarah LaPolla is an editor, writer, and former literary agent. As a literary agent at Bradford Literary Agency, Sarah primarily represented YA authors such as Pamela Harris, Katie Henry, and Laura Pohl, among others, whose works went on to become bestsellers, star reviewed, and regionally and internationally awarded. Sarah has an MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from The New School and a BA in Creative Writing from Ithaca College. In 2020, she started Next Chapter Editorial and regularly teaches writing workshops and offers critiques through Inked Voices, Writer’s Digest, and Manuscript Academy. She is currently writing her own YA novel and can be found procrastinating on Twitter at @sarahlapolla.


“Things truly clicked for my client after speaking with Sarah. I haven't seen her this excited, engaged, and joyful about her writing in a long time. I know she's felt stuck, and Sarah was the exact boost she needed. So warm, kind and chock full of knowledge and advice to help get her over this hump.”

Elizabeth Copps President and Literary Agency, Copps Literary Services, LLC

“Sarah is an incredibly talented editor. She has a keen eye for story structure, pacing, and character development. I worked with her on a full manuscript developmental edit in preparation of querying agents. I was so pleased with her feedback and insights, which helped strengthen the book in ways that exceeded my hopes and expectations. I'll be coming to her with all of my future novels!”

Kerri Schlottman Literary Fiction Author/Former Editorial Client

“I’ve never worked with an editor who recognized the potential in a manuscript better and then was able to get it there. Sarah asked the right questions up front and then took the puzzle apart, made some difficult choices without sacrificing any of the characters’ voices or motivations, and put it all back together. She was equally efficient at helping with plot and keeping the book moving and subplots intertwined without forcing the issue. Her work opened up what was possible for the project, and I ended up reading her notes again and again as a supplement to the manuscript realizing she had created a fully realized world.”

YA Romance Author/Former Editorial Client