This course is designed for anyone interested in young adult fiction, from super fans who read all the new books, to adult literary writers who are wondering if their adolescent character might be better served in a more intentionally YA novel, to those who’ve never thought about the genre but would like to try something new.
Even if you are not sure you’re ready to write a young adult novel, the elements that appear in much of contemporary YA fiction—clear and direct vocabulary, page-turning scenes and structured arcs, consistent and imaginative worlds, and the raw emotional lives of young characters described with searing immediacy—are useful tools to learn no matter where you go with your work. In this workshop, you will learn how to apply all of these elements to YA fiction and all your future writing endeavors.
Discussions will lead to a deeper understanding of what makes a book with a teen character “YA”, and how that can help you find the right tone and pace for your project. We will do exercises and close readings to refine your concepts (or come up with them) and foster a supportive environment to think through problems and ideas together with the goal of moving forward to a complete manuscript. Each student will get to submit for workshop twice.
This class will meet over our text-only chat platform. There will not be any video or audio component to class.
- How to write a convincing teen character for a teen audience.
- How to build a scene or an overall plot to keep young readers engaged.
- How to create a consistent and thrilling sense of place—whether contemporary, historical, interplanetary, dystopian future—and situate your characters in it.
- How to tighten your hook to best express your themes and your character’s journey.
- The confidence and enthusiasm to continue with your manuscript!
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Week One: But is it YA? Exploring the differences between books for and about teens.
Week Two: Character. How to create an authentic voice and render the big emotions of first experiences.
Week Three: Concept. What is the sharpest version of what your project is about, and how can that guide you when you are lost?
Week Four: World. Who lives here and what rules govern this place? Can it be familiar and strange at once?
Week Five: Plot. Beyond beginning, middle and end.
Week Six: Revision. Some would say this is the most important part. How to return to pages to make them part of a consistent and engaging whole.
Anna Godbersen is the author of The New York Times bestselling LUXE series for young adults and the BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS series. THE BLONDE was her first book for grownups. She was born in Berkeley, California and moved to New York to attend Barnard College. After graduating she worked in the literary department of Esquire magazine, where she vetted short story submissions and wrote book reviews. Her most recent book is WHEN WE CAUGHT FIRE, a young adult novel set during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which HarperTeen published in October 2018. She lives in Brooklyn.
“Mystery, romance, jealousy, betrayal, humor, and gorgeous, historically accurate details. I couldn’t put The Luxe down!”
“THE BLONDE by Anna Godbersen is platinum-hot. This extraordinarily vivid and totally unforgettable novel is on fire. Or… is it a novel? I was spellbound.”
“The author’s talent for creating flawed, maddeningly selfish high-society personalities is on full display in Emmeline, as is her knack for drawing sympathy for social underdogs such as Fiona, the real heroine of this love-triangle novel. Readers will root for Fiona and hope that she prevails with Anders, despite the possibility that their futures might just burn to the ground.”
"I have taken many workshop courses before and the recent six-week fiction workshop I took with Anna was one of the best. I found the class to be motivating, insightful, and inspiring. Although only six weeks, each session was valuable, and I left the course with a renewed excitement in my writing thanks to Anna’s instruction. I gained both support for my own work as well as a deeper understanding of the craft of fiction writing through lively class discussions, reading materials, and writing exercises provided by Anna. Most importantly, she created an extremely welcoming and supportive environment for such discussion to take place and skillfully prompted conversations forward with thought provoking questions so that they were constructive and helpful to each individual student. Anna also provided unique and profound insights into my work, as well as my classmates, that gave me a new perspective into writing that I truly would not have gotten anywhere else."
"I took a fiction workshop class led by Anna, which I highly recommend to any writer looking to further develop their craft. I looked forward to receiving her comments on my submissions, as she always provided insightful, helpful feedback. Her questions and prompts during class helped us think more deeply about our characters and story lines. The discussion led by her gave me new insight into how I could develop my main character, as well as the underlying themes of my novel. If you're looking to take a writing class, take one with Anna!"
"Anna approaches manuscripts with a keen eye, always looking beyond the superficial to identify the themes that drive the story. She's offered many valuable suggestions that have enabled me to to approach my characters with added nuance and sensitivity. She's that rare writer who understands people in all their complexities, and is able to deftly articulate her observations (and help others do the same)."