Introduction to Writing Middle Grade and YA Fiction Webinar and Workbook

Ready to really understand the main differences between middle grade, YA and adult fiction? Want to learn what agents and publishers are looking for in manuscripts for children and teens? This video and workbook package is an easy-to-digest, quick-start guide to kidlit, whether you’re completely new to fiction altogether or an experienced author switching over to books for a young audience.


What’s included?

  • A 48-minute recorded webinar (to watch in your own time) on the fundamentals of writing middle grade and YA fiction
  • A 22-page workbook including all the content from the webinar plus interactive quiz questions

What’s it about?

Do you dream of writing a novel for children or teens one day? Are you wondering what terms like ‘middle grade’ and ‘YA’ even mean and what the differences are? Trying to get your head around the conventions, trends and guidelines associated with kidlit?

Think writing for children is the easy option? Think again!

Back in February 2021 I gave a talk to the lovely authors at Sutton Writers, a local writing group full of excellent, clever people who wanted to learn more about kid lit. I enjoyed the talk so much – and got such brilliant questions and comments at the end – that I wanted to develop it further and share it with more authors. So here it is! A webinar and accompanying workbook covering the fundamentals of writing middle grade and YA fiction.

What we’ll cover

  • An overview of the various age categories in publishing from board books to adult fiction
  • An explanation and definition of ‘middle grade’
  • An explanation and definition of ‘YA’
  • The differences between middle grade and YA
  • The difference between YA and adult
  • A discussion of child characters in adult books
  • Golden rule #1: think like a child
  • Golden rule #2: don’t make your hero an adult
  • Golden rule #: don’t lecture your readers
  • Quiz: match the book to the audience
  • Quiz: identify three excerpts as middle grade, YA or adult
  • Quiz: a list of 20 books to test yourself with

Excerpt from the intro

‘The most common concern I hear from authors I work with is ‘I’m not sure if my book is middle grade or YA – or maybe something else entirely!’ And I can absolutely understand that. There’s so much terminology in publishing that it can be hard to get your head around, plus not even everybody in the industry agrees on terms and categories! So, in this course I’m going to try and clear up confusion and bust myths about writing books for children and teens. I hope by the end you’ll understand

      1. the differences between middle grade, YA and adult fiction
      2. where they fit into the wider publishing landscape
      3. the conventions and expectations associated with middle grade and YA so you can write a story that appeals to your chosen audience as well as agents and editors
      4. what clues to look for when trying to determine if a novel is middle grade or YA
      5. the most important things to consider when writing for children or teenagers.’


Here are some of the lovely things authors said when I gave this talk to writers’ groups (in person and over Zoom):

‘You gave an excellent talk and interested even those of us not writing books for children and young adults. The buzz created after your talk was testament to how you got us all inspired as writers.’ – Nicola Manesseh, member of the Society of Authors

‘Great session from Siobhan O’Brien Holmes last night at Sutton Writers. It was a really informative session, thank you.’ – Jonathan B Evans, writer

‘I thought you were brilliant but my in my gut I knew you would be.’  – Jon-Jon Jones, Society of Authors group organiser

‘You were brilliant!’ – Cindi Ongers, writer and newsletter editor at Sutton Writers

‘Such a great talk, Siobhan! I feel like I actually understand the categories now.’ – Lauren McMenemy, writer and former co-chair of Sutton Writers

‘Thank you for such a brilliant session. I really did find it so inspiring and motivating.’ – Eran Edry, member of the Society of Authors

So glad you came along and gave a talk, everyone thought you were wonderful!’ – Tanya Fenton, member of the Society of Authors

How to access

Once you’ve paid for the webinar and workbook you’ll receive an email with a download link for the workbook PDF. This email should also include a private link to the password-protected webinar video along with the password. Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing either part of the package!


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