So you have an idea for a young adult novel. Maybe it’s one you can’t get off your mind or one you’ve had for years and are finally getting around to pursuing. Ideas are exciting to think of, but a little scary to actually execute.
What if it doesn’t turn out how you envisioned? How can you make it exactly how you want it to be? Before you panic, it helps to know a few concrete steps to turn a story idea into a young adult novel. Here’s how you can do it.
Table of Contents
How to Turn a Story Idea into a Young Adult Novel
Gather your elements/ideas
When you think of story ideas for your young adult novels, no doubt you have a bunch of additional thoughts bouncing around. This is the time to narrow these mini ideas down and decide which to get rid of and which to keep.
Do a brain dump! This means sitting down and listing each and every idea you have for your story. Think of characters, plot, dialogue, setting ideas, and more.
Whatever you think you want to happen in your story, write it down! Then, choose which ones work for your story and which don’t.
Figure out the specifics
Once you figure out which ideas to go with, write a general plan or outline for what your YA novel will be about, and go a bit deeper. Start with your characters:
Who is your protagonist and what do they want?
Who are the surrounding characters and what do they want?
What’s motivating them?
Don’t forget to figure out the conflict, or what (or who) is going to get in your characters’ way.
Next, where is your story set? What is the year? Where the characters will be set–in other words, the location? Is your world big or small, is it real or fictional? What is it like there?
This step is important for providing you with clarity. Some writers, also known as pantsers, tend to go with the flow. While others, the plotters, are better off creating an outline to guide them. While there is no one-size-fits-all method, it will be helpful to have a plan or rough outline of your story to facilitate your YA characterization as you are starting out.
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Do your research
Some stories require research. Say your story is set in Greece, or you have a character who is an astronaut, or you want to write a young adult historical fiction novel that takes place in medieval times. If you don’t know much about these subjects, you’ll need to start researching so you know what you’re talking about. This way, you will write a convincing story for your readers.
It can be as simple as doing a quick Google search or heading to the library. Researching can also be watching documentaries or traveling to locations. Once you learn more about the subject, you will be better equipped to turn a story idea into a young adult novel.
Construct a plot outline
Plot can seem scary, but it’s really not! At its most basic level, the plot is a beginning, middle, and ending, or the sequence of events in your story.
In a more developed sense, your young adult mystery books, for instance, will need these elements for the plot:
Exposition: Where your story starts. For your characters, this is the status quo or their normal life. For example, the exposition on a story about a guy with his girlfriend would be the guy living with the girlfriend.
Inciting event: What event happens that changes everything? In our example, what if the girlfriend went suddenly missing and the guy couldn’t find her? This changes everything in the guy’s world.
Rising action: Events that occur in the middle of the novel that are the result of the inciting event. Here, characters are usually trying to solve a problem introduced in the inciting event. In our story, this would be the guy doing everything to try and find his missing girlfriend.
Climax: Everything in the inciting event leads to this! What if the guy finally gets a clue as to where his girlfriend may be?
Falling action: After the climax, things start to fall down. Now the guy is following the clues to where his girlfriend might have gone.
Resolution: How are things tied up and how do they end? Finally, the guy finds his girlfriend and everything we’ve been following comes to a nice conclusion. (Though because this is a young adult mystery and not a romance novel, the story might not end so happily!)
Get writing your young adult novel!
It’s time for the part you’ve been waiting for! Gather your notes and get writing. But don’t even think about trying to be perfect with your first draft. Just get the story down and worry about it being perfect after several drafts or during revisions. For now, enjoy the process!
If you need the help of some writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing, go for it.
Once you finish your first draft, “let your story sit” for a while. In other words, take a break from your writing, so when you go back you can see it with fresh eyes. Some seasoned writers recommend leaving your story untouched for at least a week, others two weeks. There are still others that recommend a month.
Once you are ready for revisions, go over your story carefully, and work on as many drafts as needed. This applies whether you are going through the traditional route or are self-publishing your books. This way, you increase your chances of creating a polished young adult novel that you will not only be proud of, but readers will be excited to read.
Final Thoughts on Turning Your Story Idea into a Young Adult Novel
Writers are known for coming up with a large multitude of ideas, from many different places. While you may not use some of these story ideas, at some point, you can end up brainstorming an amazing YA story idea that will keep readers turning pages.
So what are you waiting for?