How to Write for Children and Young Adults

Your step-by-step guide to becoming a children's author

This course is ideal for: Anyone who wants to write fiction for readers aged 8 to 18

You will:
Learn what stories appeal to children and publishers
Create believable characters and dialogue
Find the right voice to suit your reader
Receive feedback on your writing
Explore the YA market and all publishing options

Where Starts Duration Presenter Price
Online with tutor Learn from anywhere at your convenience. Monday 26 October 2020
Any time during the week
5 weeks (Allow 3-4 hours per week) Stephen Hart $450

Enjoy the benefits of your online classroom

  • This course gives you access to your own online classroom, where you’ll be able to connect with other classmates and share your stories with each other in a supportive environment – with people who share your passion!
  • Your class also has its own online tutor – on hand and online for any questions you may have and to provide personal feedback on your work. Our tutors are experienced experts with years of knowledge to draw on. They’re your secret weapon!
  • Each Monday we’ll release a new learning module in the form of audio lessons, along with handouts and other resources. You can choose to save the audio and listen to it later – perhaps during your favourite walk or in the commute in the car. It’s up to you!
  • A fan of 9am starts? Easy. 2pm before the kids get home? Sure. 10pm? 5am? You choose the time and place that best suits your schedule. A practical weekly assignment (assessed by your tutor) will help you stay on track and gauge your progress along the way.

How does the online course work?

When you enrol:
  • You’ll receive login details to access your online course
  • Your course contains five weekly modules, each with audio lessons and handouts
  • Each week, you can submit a small assignment and receive feedback from your tutor
  • There are no set class times – complete each module when it suits you during the week
  • We suggest allowing 3-4 hours per week to complete each module and assignment
  • You can post questions and comments in the classroom and get to know your classmates
  • You’ll be able to enjoy access to the course for a full year – plenty of time to revisit your lessons and refresh your knowledge whenever you need.

Watch our video tour of the online classroom.

How to Write for Children and Young Adults

Five-week online course

In this online course, you’ll discover how to write memorable stories for children and teenagers. 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 – and this course will show you how!

There’s a special craft in writing fiction for young readers. They respond strongly to stories that amuse, challenge or entertain but also never talk down to them. In this course, you’ll learn the dos and don’ts of writing for children, what topics are acceptable and gain a blueprint for succeeding in this market!

Each Monday, a module covering a new topic is unlocked. A small weekly assignment is due each Sunday night – with direct feedback from your online tutor – an expert in the world of young fiction.

Lessons include:

  1. All about children’s literature

    In your first week, we will be challenging some assumptions about children and the books written for them. You’ll work through many examples of writing for children including the current trends for each age group and why publishers are making these choices. This process will help you choose the kind of story you want to write. You’ll receive feedback on a point of view exercise.

  2. Finding your voice

    This is a key part of writing for children. We’ve all been a child, but capturing the appropriate voice to suit the age of our reader is not always as easy as it seems. To do this, we build on the idea of point of view of your characters, including making them as believable as possible – complete with back stories, appearance and motivations that drive their decisions. You’ll receive feedback on a character dialogue assignment.

  3. Beginnings

    Having established characters and points of view, we have all the kindling – we just need to figure out how to get the story fire roaring. We’ll explore contemporary examples to see how they launch their characters into the story and why the decisions you make here are crucial in capturing your reader’s attention. You’ll receive feedback on writing the beginning of your own story.

  4. Structure

    Once the story is up and running, it’s all about three things – character, plot and pace. In this week’s module, you’ll look at how to manipulate each of these elements to create desired narrative tension that will keep your young reader engrossed (under the covers, with a torch). Along the way, you’ll look at the three-act structure and controlling pace, as well as why the number of scenes is so important. You’ll also receive feedback on writing the climax to your story.

  5. Writing for Young Adults

    Previous weeks lessons were universal to all children’s fiction, however this final module takes a look specifically at the Young Adult (YA) segment – as most children’s authors will write YA at some point. You will explore what YA publishers are looking for and how to handle topics like sex, romance, violence and more. Even if you don’t plan to ever write for teens, you’ll learn a lot from understanding this age of readers – with feedback given on writing in a teenage voice.

There is no prior reading required for this online course. However, we recommend visiting a local bookstore or library (or your child’s bookshelf!) to get acquainted with the current selection of books on offer for children and teenagers.

Catherine Pelosi completed How to Write for Children and Young Adults

“During the course, there were also many opportunities to write and share our work. To me, this was the most useful aspect of the course. Receiving feedback from peers and the presenter was incredibly helpful in figuring out what I was doing well and what areas I needed to work on. If it wasn’t for the Australian Writers’ Centre I don’t think I would be as far into my writing career as I am. It really gave me a great boost of confidence right at the start when I needed it most.”

– Catherine Pelosi, published children’s author

Tamsin Janu
Graduate of Australian Writers' Centre, author of “Figgy and the President” and “Figgy in the World”

Tania Blanchard
Graduate of Australian Writers' Centre, author of “The Girl from Munich”

Magic & Mayhem
The free ebook and podcast series for children's authors

“Is this course for me?”

How to Write for Children and Young Adults has been designed as an introduction to writing middle grade and/or YA fiction – appealing to a range of aspiring writers. People like these:


Q: I'm a complete beginner. Is this course right for me?
A: It’s a great place to start. Most students simply have a love for writing young fiction and that’s all the experience that is required.

Q: Do I need to have a story idea?
A: Not at all. This course will teach the techniques to writing great stories, but you don’t need one at the start.

Q: What kind of books will this course help me write?
A: Anything aimed at readers aged 8 to 18 – because many of the concepts are common to all young fiction. This includes the popular middle grade fiction and expanding ‘tween’ market, as well as specific YA fiction techniques to engage with a teenage audience.

Q: How many others will be in the class – and are they all experienced writers?
A: The online classroom is a supportive learning environment and we purposefully keep classes small to make everyone more comfortable (no more than approx 20 per class). Everyone is there to learn and no experience is necessary, so you don't need to worry about being out of your depth.

Q: How does the online tutored class work exactly?
A: Each Monday, a new course module will be made available. You can choose any time that week to go through it – there is no set class time. Through the online learning hub, you can chat to classmates and your online tutor and get feedback on your weekly assignments (due each Sunday night).

Q: I'm a busy parent and work full-time. Can I fit this in?
A: Most of our students are busy people just like you. This course is flexible so that all you need to find is a few extra hours in the week, not necessarily all at once. You've totally got this!

Q: Do you have courses that focus on books for younger children?
A: We sure do. Our Writing Picture Books course is perfect if you'd like to write illustrated books for the tiny tots. And the Writing Chapter Books for 6-9 year olds course will help you write a book series for newly independent readers. Complete all three and become the ultimate triple-threat children’s author!

This course covers writing middle grade stories in the vein of NevermoreWonder or the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, as well as YA bestsellers like the Harry Potter series, The Fault in Our StarsThrone of Glass or The Hunger Games.

NOTE: We also offer courses in Writing Picture Books and Writing Chapter Books for 6-9 Year Olds.

Ongoing story and publishing support

How to Write for Children and Young Adults provides you with all the foundation skills you need to start creating middle grade (8-12 years) or YA (13-18+ years) fiction. Once you have these skills under your belt, our Novel Writing Essentials course helps you get YOUR story off to the best start through workshopping and theory. Finally, your manuscript is in safe hands with our motivational six-month Write Your Novel program – Australia’s best!

By the end of this course you will have:

KNOWLEDGE:You’ll understand not just what young readers want, but how to present it to them in the best way.
CONFIDENCE:You’ll gain the skills to begin properly structuring stories immediately.
INSPIRATION:Even if you didn’t have ideas before, after five weeks you’ll have a notebook of story starters to take you to the next level!
MOTIVATION:This course will have you fired up to start writing the next big thing for little readers – and our pathway can help you get there.
Graduates have gone on to score book deals and be a part of the HUGE children’s and YA fiction market.

But don’t just take our word for it…

"I did take a lot away from the course. There were various ideas and tips which were lightbulb moments which were quite powerful. The written material was excellent. Listening to the audio while reading the handouts is really useful and provides a 'double dipping' way of reinforcing the useful information."
– Amanda Snowden
“It was relevant content, delivered in a professional and passionate way. The course provided me with practical tools that I can start using immediately in my writing and the online classroom, peers, and tutor inspired me to keep going.”
– Meran Robinson
“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. The online tutor was excellent! Very informative.”
– Elizabeth Pigott
“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

Become a children's author!

  • Duelling wizards, angst-ridden vampires, or high school dramas?
  • The characters may change, but the fundamentals to writing great children’s fiction never go out of fashion.
  • Unlock your imagination and inspire a new generation of young readers!

Enrol in this online course today…

Where Starts Duration Presenter Price
Online with tutor Learn from anywhere at your convenience. Monday 26 October 2020
Any time during the week
5 weeks (Allow 3-4 hours per week) Stephen Hart $450

About us

The Australian Writers’ Centre offers courses in creative writing, freelance writing, business writing, blogging and much more. Our practical and industry-proven courses will help you gain confidence and meet your goals faster!

Contact us

Phone: (02) 9929 0088
Head office: Suite 3, 55 Lavender Street, Milsons Point NSW 2061

© 2020 Australian Writers' Centre | FAQs | Terms, conditions & privacy policy


Back to top ↑

Nice one! You've added this to your cart

Did somebody say "course outline"?

Yes AWC, it was me:

Please note: We’ll never sell or distribute your personal details. Any details collected will only be used by the Australian Writers’ Centre to notify you of relevant course information every fortnight or so. Read our full privacy policy.