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Writing Books for Children and Young Adults

Upcoming ONLINE course

When Price Presenter Course starts the week beginning:
Five-week online course
Attend whenever it suits you
Judith Ridge
Monday 10 Mar 2014

How to write children’s books –
and get published

  • Are you interested in writing long fiction for older children
    (8yrs+) and teens
  • Unsure where to begin?
  • Do you want to learn at a place and time that suits you?
  • 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…)

(Before we begin, if you’re looking to write picture books for
younger children, we offer a classroom course right here. Hope
you enjoy it! Thanks.)

Kids these days…

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!

YES! Please send me an outline for this course

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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 five-week online 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 this course.

Online learning – real world results

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 to 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 logging in with Judith Ridge, a children’s book editor and industry expert who will share with you the trends and opportunities in the current market.

Within your online classroom environment, you’ll learn tips on getting published and a step-by-step guide 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 online 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…

Exclusive access to our Online Writing Forum

When you graduate, you'll also get exclusive access to our dynamic online writing community.

Course content and outcomes are consistent, regardless of whether you learn at the Centre or online

We are sticklers for consistency and quality in our courses, so you’ll achieve the same outcomes regardless of which presenter you have. Naturally, each presenter brings their own insight to the course, but you can be assured that the content is consistent across the board.

You’ll also achieve the same outcomes regardless of whether you enrol in our online or face-to-face course!

Your online classroom

You can attend the online classroom any time, any day of the week. This way, you can fit your learning into your schedule and lifestyle. You do not have to commit to a set time each week. However, you MUST complete each module during the week specified, or you won't get the most out of the course. Each week builds on the one before and you have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the topics we discuss each week. To sample a taste of how this will work, click here.

How much time should you commit each week?

You need to commit a minimum of 2 to 3 hours a week. The audio program itself is around 2 hours a week. Beyond that, we recommend that you put into practice what you have learnt that week. While you are expected to commit to a minimum of 2 to 3 hours a week, we won't hold you back if you are super keen and want to spend much more time than that on your writing.

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Rave reviews about
Writing Books for Children and Young Adults

"The quality of the Online Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults is exceptional. Cathie Tasker's responses to my assignments are insightful, thought-provoking and highly valued. Each week, I find myself considering Cathie's comments from different perspectives and endeavouring to use her constructive criticism to further develop my writing. In a little more than five weeks I have learnt so much."
- Robyn O'Connell

“I really enjoyed having a reason to write again and looked forward to feedback every week. I found it really motivating and this course has inspired me to spend more time on my writing. Judith was fantastic - her feedback was detailed and insightful. The online delivery was very convenient as I could choose when to do each module, even split it up over the week if I was particularly pushed for time.”
- Alison Millar

“The thing I found most enjoyable about the course was the fact I could do it at home, online. Loved it! Great, constructive feedback from Nicola. It was good to be able to read everyone's feedback too so you got even more tips from her.”
- Kate Griffith

"The fact that you could download the online course material is superb. I'm sure I'll listen to it many times. I've benefited from the course by having a professional review samples of my work and give me real world feedback on what's good and what needs more work."
- Craig Priddle

"I received some good tips in regards to publishers and what they want. There was a great deal of very useful information and it was presented very well."
- Michelle Crook

"The audio programs were really good. It was great reading other people's work and seeing how they approach assignments. It has given me new motivation and inspiration to write. It made me realise I might be good at different types of writing. The best thing was I could make use of time in the car (I work and have two small children so am very time-poor)."
- Jodi Webb

"I really enjoyed participating in the writing tasks set for each module. They challenged me to play with new ideas, voices and genres. The audio recordings and printouts had a great deal of information which I can easily refer back to whenever I need. I found the tutor's responses invaluable. I feel I have truly benefited from this course, the tutor and students were encouraging and insightful. My vision is now much clearer on how and where to begin."
- Amanda Francey

Click here for more ...

Learn from the best

Judith Ridge


Judith Ridge is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts on writing for children and young adults. In a highly specialised career spanning more than 20 years, Judith has worked as an editor, teacher, writer and critic.

Her experience as an editor encompasses more than six years at the NSW School Magazine, in-house at ABC Children’s Books and as a freelancer for Random House, Penguin, Walker Books Australia and O’Brien Publishers Ireland. She has taught children’s literature at Macquarie University and established the Writing for Children and Young Adults course in the MA of Creative Writing program at the University of Sydney.

Judith is an Honorary Associate in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. ... read more
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