How to Write Teen Literature

Опубликовал Admin
10-06-2019, 16:00
Updated: March 19, 2019 You've seen them in the bookstore - their shiny covers enticing pre-teens, teens and late-teens alike. Maybe you yourself are addicted to some. Their characters have inspired terrible fanfics all over the internet. What keeps every teen hooked on their favorite series? And what keeps them coming back for more?


  1. Choose an interesting title for your work of literature. Ideally, you'll want certain buzzwords that your demographic can respond to: for the 9-11 market, try "boys". For the 11-14s, go for something that suggests a 'social scale'. Mean Girls was inspired by a book called Queen Bees and Wannabes. Your title needs to have lots of 'zing', helped along by clever puns (It's Not Easy Being Mean) or lines from songs.
  2. You're going to need a reliable narrative voice throughout your book. It can give some personality to the work, as your characters may end up having very little. First-person tales are effective and easy to relate to, but be careful not to make the book sound whiny. Third-person allows you to describe multiple points of view.
  3. Now that you've decided what your narrative will be like, come up with some 'trademarks' and catchphrases that can be inserted in to your book (and its inevitable sequels!). Gossip Girl has those lovable sarcastic one-word paragraphs. The Clique separates words in to syllables (ah-dorable!) for those readers who don't know how to pronounce hard words.
  4. Set some rules for your style. Are you going to describe each and every outfit, or only on certain characters? Which characters do you like, and who do you hate - will you make this obvious when writing? How vivid are you going to be with emotions: "Mary was sad" vs. "Mary felt like a stiletto had just stabbed her C-cups in the middle of a sample sale, and now she'd have to get $50,000 surgery."
  5. Now all you've got left to do is actually start writing your book. But first, you need some characters. Don't have too many, but keep a wide variety in order to have the reader interested. Try not to make two characters clones of the other, even if they 'worship' her. Below you'll find character outlines of some popular teen-lit stereotypes.
    • Firstly, you need The Mean Girl. No book is quite the same without her! There are a few variables, but on the whole, every mean girl is the same. She will have a crowd of adoring minions, her glossy parents will give her anything she wants, and she will repeatedly be, well, mean to anyone that comes in her way. She's a fun character to write, but make sure to give your mean character some unique points. For example, does she have a 'dark past'? Did she used to hang out with losers or even the The New Girl?
    • The Hot Boy/The Jock is completely necessary in any teen lit work. He will be inhumanly good looking, probably with superhuman strength and have impossibly colored eyes. By way of convention, he will need to be going out with The Mean Girl, but it will be a relationship of convenience rather than love. There are two types of Hot Boys/Jocks: those who are revealed to be lovely, and those who are revealed to be jerks. This dictates which girl he ends up with in the end, but he will never be single. The key when writing about him is how you describe his looks, because this description will be the motivation for many things that will happen in your book. His personality is not too important, and never write from his point of view as he will have nothing interesting to think.
    • The New Girl is an eternally used device in any book. Think of the possibilities! She is often pure, unscathed, and from a land very much unlike the setting the rest of the characters have grown up with. She too will have her qualities: probably threateningly pretty, and with a heightened sense of moral judgment that differentiates her from her peers. Uniquely, she will be immune to the wanton charms of The Jock but only if indeed he turns out to be a jerk. She is a popular choice for the first-person narrative, and usually the most fully-developed character. Make sure to document her first impressions of your other characters, particularly The Mean Girl, who she will inevitably have some sort of relationship with.
    • The Sidekick is always a source of amusement to readers, so make sure to have your sidekick be a hilarious but completely hopeless pushover. She will worship The Mean Girl completely, being less beautiful, less intelligent, and overall less interesting. She may, in the occasional book, end up having a good heart, and form a friendship with The New Girl, against The Mean Girl's wishes. When describing her, make her real wishes clear: does she hand The Mean Girl her nail polish "eagerly" or "reluctantly"?
  6. Now, all you need is a story!! Keep chapters of a good length, and make sure the book is not too repetitive. You'll want some key turning points in the plot - these will probably involve a cat-fight, kissing/sex (depending on your age group), and mass humiliation for a certain character.

Sample Excerpts


  • People respond well to certain settings - such as Gossip Girl choosing New York's Upper East Side. Every high school in teen lit is essentially the same, but having something unique about it is always helpful.
  • When describing your more beautiful characters looking into each others eyes, remember that brown eyes are generally "liquid", whereas blue ones are "piercing" and green ones are "fox-like".
  • Make sure to have a handful of pop-culture references every few words, just to show your readers that you are in fact 'with it'.
  • By the end of your book, you want the situations to be somewhat resolved, but remember: always leave room for the sequel.


  • Avoid random plot-twists: they seem too rushed in such short books, and always upset the reader.
  • Everyone loves an unrealistic plot, but be careful!! There is a line, and it is crossed all too often. Read some of your favourite series' fanfic for an idea of what not to do: give your 14-year-old characters cars, or make your 12-year-old Jock is model for adult brands.
  • Avoid gushing about certain characters - there is a tendency to do this in allteen-lit (why is it that The Mean Girl merely bursts in to tears while The New Girl 's piercing blue eyes well up with trapped tears and it is a painful sight for anybody with a soul to see because she is just too, too beautiful?)
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