Writing Fiction for Young Adults (Online)

Course details

From £390.00
10 CATS points

Wed 15 May 2019 - Fri 26 Jul 2019

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.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following books:

  • Brooks, R., Writing Great Books for Young Adults (Illinois: Sourcebooks, 2009) (Hereafter Brooks)
  • Rosoff, M., How I Live Now (London, Puffin, 2010)
  • Sachar, L., Holes (London: Bloomsbury, 2010)


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.

For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php

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 both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.

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.


Home/EU Fee: £390.00
Non-EU Fee: £495.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Mr Dave Cousins

Dave Cousins’ books have been hailed as "teen realism with action, humour and heart". 
He is also the author/illustrator of the Charlie Merrick's Misfits series.

Published in over twelve languages, 15 Days without a Head was a Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week, a Junior Library Guild Selection in the US, and has won awards in both the UK and Europe. Waiting for Gonzo won the Grampian Children's Book Award, and was shortlisted for the prestigious German Children’s Literature Prize in 2017. Gonzo also has its own original soundtrack album and music videos. Both books were nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

The first Charlie Merrick's Misfits adventure Fouls, Friends & Football was described as “football—Tom Gates style”. It was selected for the Book Trust School Library Programme and the First Minister’s Reading Challenge in Scotland. The next installment, I’m a Nobody, Get Me Out of Here! was chosen as one of The Times Best Summer Reads. The story finds Charlie and the gang stranded at a bush-craft and survival training camp, and features a number of real survival tips.

Having abandoned childhood plans to become an astronaut, and a decade of playing in a band (who were almost famous), Dave now writes full time. When not scribbling stories in his attic, Dave tours extensively giving talks and running workshops in schools and at literary events across the UK and abroad.

Dave's events have been described as “stand-up with books”, or as one student put it: “well funny!” A mix of anecdotes, pictures, readings and leaping about! Audiences learn some of the true tales that inspired the books, as well as tips on writing and drawing their own stories.

Dave lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, children, and a grumpy cat.

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

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.

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


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

Level and demands

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