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Secrets to Success in YA

R.L. Stine, bestselling author the iconic Goosebumps and Fear Street series, says that with every novel young readers pick up, they are looking to answer one specific question. by Jessica Strawser, reporting from ThrillerFest 2010 (New York City)

I’m not sure I can think of anyone better to speak to what YA readers want than R.L. Stine, bestselling author the iconic Goosebumps and Fear Street series, among others—about 130 YA novels in all.

He says that with every novel young readers pick up, they are looking to answer one question: What kind of teenager will I be? In other words, they want to see themselves in your story, in your protagonist’s shoes.

With that in mind, here are the master’s four essential ingredients for any successful, saleable novel for the YA audience:

1. An interesting, believable, credible protagonist they can relate to.
2. A story told from the point of view of that protagonist, and that protagonist only—no head hopping. The closer you stay to the character, the more readers will be able to connect with him or her.
3. A growing threat to that character until it appears there’s no way out.
4. Lots of twists and turns—YA novels love shocks and surprises.

For examples of novels that do all of these things well, here are Stine’s three picks for aspiring YA writers:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Numbers by Rachel Ward
Dark Life by Kat Falls

Want to get your YA Novel published? Make sure you're on the right path by considering:
Writing and Selling the YA Novel

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