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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

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Upcoming course dates

StartsThursday 23 April 2015

Location Sydney
Ground Floor
55 Lavender Street
Milsons Point NSW 2061

WhenThursday EVENING classes
(once a week for five weeks)


Presenter Judith Ridge

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StartsSaturday 28 March 2015

Location Perth
Wembley Hotel
344 Cambridge Street
Wembley WA 6014

WhenSaturday and Sunday classes
(2 consecutive days)


Presenter Deb Fitzpatrick

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StartsMonday 12 January 2015

Enrolments open until Wednesday 14 January
(Unless booked out prior)

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 Judith Ridge

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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. Something that’s popular today could be tomorrow’s “epic fail”! Fortunately, you’ll be learning from Judith Ridge, a children’s book editor and industry expert who will share with you the trends and opportunities in the current market.

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…

Can’t make it to one of our centres? 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!

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

  • Judith Ridge

    Judith Ridge, Online, Sydney

    Judith Ridge is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts on writing for children and young adults.... View Profile

  • Deb Fitzgerald

    Deb Fitzpatrick, Perth

    Deb Fitzpatrick is a writer for children and young adults and lives in Fremantle, although one of her... View Profile

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Graduate testimonials

  • "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

    "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