The Fault in Our Star(t)s: Writing YA

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  • Session A: July 10 - July 22, 2017
  • Session B: July 24 - August 5, 2017


  • 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.


  • English and Writing


  • Melissa Jensen

Just like its audience, the Middle Grade and Young Adult booklist grows and keeps growing. Is it that more t(w)eens are reading? Or that more adults are reading things written for a younger audience? In this course, we will explore what makes YA/MG novels enjoyable; we will also explore what makes them important, even necessary. 

We will read across time and subgenre, from the everyday to the fantastical, historical to futuristic. Students will complete a series of quick writing assignments: honing their voice, creating believable story, characters, and language. Students will learn about writing from personal experience as well as dreaming the unknown. This course is based around lots of reading and writing, lively exploration and livelier discussion. By the end of the session, students will have a comprehensive understanding of the genre, as well as the basic writer’s toolkit for getting that book started. Without faults.

Each session will begin with a focused lecture from the instructor on the day’s topic: genre, plot, character, etc. We will read topical excerpts aloud from assorted novels, view segments from film and/or television, and discuss as a group what we’ve read and seen as works of fiction: not just whether we like (or dislike) them, but why? What has the author achieved (or not) through plot, character, dialogue, etc. to compel, entertain, illuminate? There will be several quick writing assignments. In the second week, we will discuss students’ work as a group, offering (guided) insights into what is appealing and works well, and what might benefit from revision.

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