Writing Fiction for Young Adults (Online)


You will find your own voice and your own niche in writing for young adults, in sub-genres from realism to the supernatural. You will become confident in writing convincing dialogue and gripping narrative, and in creating situations and characters with which young adults can identify. You will also learn to critique and edit your own and others' work.

This course will introduce you to one of the fastest-growing sectors of the publishing industry. You will discover how writing for young adults has evolved since Eleanor Fenn wrote School Dialogues for Boys: Being an Attempt to Convey Instruction Insensibly to Their Tender Minds and Instill The Love of Virtue, and the elements of contemporary Young Adult Fiction. You will find your own voice and your own niche in the sub-genres of writing for young adults, from realism to fantasy and the supernatural. You will become confident in writing convincing dialogue and gripping narrative, and in creating situations and characters with which young adults can identify. You will also learn to critique and edit your own and others' work.

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details

1. What is Young Adult Fiction?

  • Introduction to the course and each other
  • Changing styles
  • A typical teenager?
  • Excitement, experience and knowledge

2. Reading and Writing Young Adult Fiction

  • The dos and don'ts: generally accepted guidelines for writing young adult fiction
  • Applying the 'rules'
  • Genres and sub-genres
  • On writing a series
  • Multiculturalism

3. Ideas and Inspiration

  • Where do ideas come from?
  • Different strokes
  • Plot structure
  • From 'spiders' to a detailed synopsis
  • What if....?

4. What's it All About?

  • Plots, sub-plots and underlying themes
  • Gently does it
  • What is it about vampires?
  • Stating your theme
  • Genre-bending
  • Holes

5. Characters: Their creation and development

  • Popular protagonists
  • Getting to know them
  • The best friend
  • The bad guys (or girls...)

6. Point of View

  • First- and third-person narrative: their advantages and disadvantages in young adult fiction
  • Who's telling the story?
  • Perspective
  • Know-it-alls and other narrators
  • Teen-speak: Getting it right
  • He said/She said

7. Dialogue

  • The purpose and mechanics of dialogue
  • Speaking volumes
  • Talking heads
  • Adding 'filler'
  • Your dialogue checklist

8. Descriptive Writing

  • Giving them goosebumps and touching their hearts
  • Less is more
  • Dramatic tension
  • Giggles...
  • ...And goosebumps
  • Writing for laughs - or for shivers

9. Conflict

  • Resolving plot or character-driven conflict in a believable and satisfying way
  • Sticking points and stumbling blocks
  • Creating and developing conflict
  • Internal and external conflict
  • Tackling taboos

10. Good and bad endings

  • What to avoid at all costs
  • Getting it right
  • Different endings
  • What next?

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting the final course assignment. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.


Description Costs
Course Fee £515.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Nicky Browne

Nicky Browne has published eight books for young children and nine novels for older children with Bloomsbury. Her tenth novel 'Bad Water' is out in February 2021. Her work has been nominated for many awards including the Carnegie medal. She has extensive teaching experience and a PhD in Creative Writing.

Course aims

This course will enable students to:

  • Debunk the misconception that you have to be someone special to write.
  • Show how important it is to cultivate the right mind-set first.
  • Take broad overview of the topography - from the blank page to revision and polishing, and what comes after.
  • Break the process of writing down into constituent parts and reveal the art and craft at work.
  • Have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and 'have a go.'
  • Have the opportunity to put it all together and create a short piece of fiction.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts.
  • Guided use of existing websites.
  • Discussions of particular issues and responses to reading in the unit forums.
  • Written non-assessed exercises discussed by the group.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will understand:

  • Generally-accepted guidelines for young adult fiction.
  • Key points in the history of young adult fiction.
  • Their own working methods.
  • Techniques for maintaining writing and avoiding writers’ block.
  • Kinds of writing which appeal to and are popular with young adult readers.
  • Constituents of genres in young adult fiction.

By the end of this course students will have gained the following skills:

  • Ability to write dialogue suitable for young adult fiction.
  • Ability to write descriptive prose suitable for young adult fiction.
  • Ability to create characters with whom young adult readers can empathise.
  • Ability to critique and edit own writing and that of existing authors.
  • Ability to formulate and develop plots for young adult fiction.

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link: https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/english-language-requirements


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.