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Writing Books for Children and Young Adults

Inspire and entertain a new generation of readers

Learn how to grab young readers’ attention with clever characters, structure, dragons and the occasional bottom joke. More detail

Upcoming course dates


StartsWeek beginning Monday 28 November 2016

Location Online
New module released each Monday.
You can complete the module any time during that week.
All you need is an internet connection.
Learn from anywhere.

WhenFive-week online course


Presenter Sue Whiting

Book Now

We run this course Online every two months (or so). Click here to be the first to know about new dates!


StartsSaturday 8 October 2016

Location Sydney
Ground Floor
55 Lavender Street
Milsons Point NSW 2061

WhenWeekend classes
(2 consecutive days)


Presenter Sue Whiting

Book Now

We run this course in Sydney every six months (or so). Click here to be the first to know about new dates!


StartsNew date to be announced

Want to be notified when a date is announced?
Click the big button below!

Location Melbourne
The Abbotsford Convent
1 St Heliers Street
Abbotsford VIC 3067

WhenSaturday and Sunday classes
(2 consecutive days)


Presenter Judith Rossell

Booked Out

We run this course in Melbourne every five months (or so). Click here to be the first to know about new dates!


StartsNew date to be announced! Did you know we offer this course online?

Location Perth
3/185 Eighth Avenue
Inglewood WA 6052

WhenSaturday and Sunday classes
(2 consecutive days)


Presenter Deb Fitzpatrick

Booked Out

We run this course in Perth every six months (or so). Click here to be the first to know about new dates!

Course description

  • Are you interested in writing long fiction for older children (8yrs+) and teens?
  • Unsure where to begin?
  • Wondering what kids these days actually want to read about?
  • Keen to learn the secrets to getting your book published?

If so, read on… (Preferably under the covers with a torch.)

Please note: If you’re looking to write picture books for younger children, you might be interested in our course on Writing Picture Books.

A story for the ages

Writing for children and teenagers. It’s easy, right? After all, if there’s one thing we ALL were once, it was a kid. But just as eating ice-cream doesn’t automatically make you a gelato expert, so too with children’s fiction.

There’s a special craft in writing fiction for older children and teenagers. These unique readers are looking for characters they feel passionately about and strong stories that amuse, entertain and challenge – all without talking down to them. In many ways, they’re some of the toughest critics you’ll ever face!

Unlock your imagination

Many of us have great book ideas for children and teens, but simply aren’t sure where to start. That’s where the Australian Writers’ Centre can help. Whether it’s epic fantasy, comic adventure, romance or realism you want to write, this course covers all the essentials of writing fiction. And more specifically, we tackle the most common questions about the dos and don’ts of writing for children and young adults:

  •     What age reader is my story best suited for?
  •     Are there rules about vocabulary in books for children and teens?
  •     How long should my book be?
  •     What topics are acceptable to publishers and the adults who buy the books?
  •     How do I know what today’s young people are interested in reading about?

When a story hits the mark, it can be extremely rewarding. It can also find universal appeal – in recent years, great novels for kids and teens have “crossed over” to be read by adults with equal enthusiasm. In fact, during tough times, it’s often these types of books that keep the publishing industry afloat.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Your first words – how to get started.
  • Finding the right voice – one that won’t alienate your readers (unless you’re writing about aliens, that is…).
  • Creating characters and stories young readers will enjoy.
  • Talking the talk – how to write believable dialogue.
  • Common assumptions about writing for children and about young readers in general.
  • Ups and downs – how to structure a story that works.
  • Plotting and scheming – the secrets to plotting for different age groups.
  • Your next steps – everything you need to know about getting into the children’s and young adult publishing market.
  • And MUCH more!

Remember, this course will focus on longer fiction for children aged 8+ and teenagers. If you’re thinking more along the picture book lines, please check out our course on Writing Picture Books.

Kids these days…

You may have kids of your own. Perhaps you know someone who does. Maybe you once saw some in a park. Whatever the case, it’s really important you understand your audience. The world of writing for young readers changes quickly. You’ll learn what to avoid if you really want to get published and she’ll guide you step-by-step on how to approach a publisher. In short, you’ll gain a blueprint for succeeding in this market!

A captive audience

Duelling wizards, angst-ridden vampires, high school dramas and hungry games… The characters may change, but the fundamentals to writing great children’s fiction never go out of fashion. This course can’t guarantee you a movie franchise (sorry). We can’t even promise you’ll be any better at making gelato. But what we can do is provide you with a hefty bunch of keys to help unlock your imagination and inspire a new generation of young readers. And that’s an epic win in anyone’s book…

Prefer learning at home? Learn online!

If you have an internet connection, you’ve come to the right place! With our online courses, you get the same juicy content as the classroom course PLUS backstage passes to Q&As, assignments and feedback direct from your outstanding online tutor! You could be anywhere on the planet, or you could be just round the corner. Either way, you’ll be joining thousands of online graduates from here and overseas who’ve already had an awesome time learning online. Check out our demo today.

Online or classroom course – which one is better?

Ha! It’s a trick question… they both have the same high quality – it just depends on how you learn and sometimes where you live. In fact, we’re fanatical about consistency across all our courses, so rest assured that when a class begins in Perth (or Sydney, or Melbourne), it’s going to cover the same ground as its online cousin. Now, we’re not talking robots here. Each one of our talented presenters does of course bring their own unique flavour, but the core lesson material remains the same!

What internet connection is required?

To participate in any of our online courses, you will need high-speed internet. For us, high-speed internet means ADSL or Broadband/Cable, with a speed of 128kBps or higher.

Dial-up connections or using the internet on your phone are not recommended — you may find that the audio in the online course will pause, skip or completely stop.

Previous students have let us know that they have had no problems accessing our courses using Satellite internet or wireless broadband, but it depends on each connection.

If you’re not sure what kind of internet connection you have, there are two things you can check:

  • Speed – If you can play a YouTube video from start to finish without issues, your internet should be fast enough.
  • Download limit – We recommend contacting either the person who takes care of your internet, or your internet provider directly to see what your download limit is. Each week there will be 40-50MB worth of materials to download, so you need to make sure your internet connection will allow for that (times five for each week!) without speed limitations or excess charges.

If your connection is not fast enough but you’d still like attend the course, we recommend checking with your local library to see if you are able to download the files there.

If you can do that, you’d just need to pop them onto a USB drive and then take them home with you to listen to later.

Exclusive access to our AWC Graduates’ Club

Want to know where all the cool kids hang out? The Graduates’ Club of course! Now, calm down – there’s no cigars, leather armchairs or loud ticking grandfather clocks here. But it IS exclusive invitation only (on completion of a course) and it’s free!  Meet other writers online and share successes, seek help or just get something off your chest. Many students believe this ‘legacy learning’ is one of the most valuable things about our AWC community, and who are we to argue?

So if you want to receive feedback, support and a heads-up on opportunities … join the Club!

Your presenters

  • Sue Whiting

    Sue Whiting, Online, Sydney

    Sue Whiting is the author of more than 60 books and has worked in the publishing industry for over 15 years. Sue’s... View Profile

  • Judith Rossell

    Judith Rossell, Melbourne

    Judith Rossell is a full-time writer and illustrator of children’s books. Over the past 15 years, she has... View Profile

  • Deb Fitzgerald

    Deb Fitzpatrick, Perth

    Deb Fitzpatrick is a freelance editor and author with five published novels. Her most recent novel is At... View Profile

Graduate testimonials

  • "It was a great experience all round and extremely helpful. The class has given me an excellent sense of direction, it's fantastic."

    - Liam O’Leary

    "I loved the course and truly Judith is a brilliant and enthusiastic teacher ... she is passionate about children's books and such a huge knowledge of all the different age groups so that she could be speaking of four year old book of verse and switch to fifteen year old teenage writing with ease as she knew her subject matter ... so thank you for your help and advice and thank you to Judith too."

    - Robyn Elliott

    "I am writing more, and within a week of finishing the course, I was able to have a fresh look at one of my manuscripts, re-edit the work, and finally take the plunge and submit it to publishers."

    - Jacy Kattan

    "The feedback from Judith Ridge was useful and interesting, especially being able to read her feedback on other participants' work. The examples from published books that were used in the course notes to illustrate a point in the audio were excellent".

    - Rebecca Newman

    "I enjoyed being able to do the course in my own time. I got a lot out of sharing my work and reading the work of my classmates. Judith Ridge was excellent! Very informative."

    - Elizabeth Pigott