Online Course: Writing YA for Beginners with Helen Donohoe

Find your voice in Young Adult fiction. Explore the essentials of compelling storytelling in the YA genre.

This course will help you find your YA voice, explore how the genre works and the ways in which it is written. It’s a great introduction to this exciting and ever-evolving genre.

Drawing on some of the best examples of YA writing and exploring the essential techniques for writing good fiction, the course will nurture confidence in your writing techniques, language and storytelling and the ways in which voice can be used to harness this.

What will you do on the course?
This course will develop your skills through a variety of writing exercises, reading assignments and feedback, and encourage you to experiment with YA writing, explore character, dialogue, vernacular, world creation and find your compelling storytelling voice.

Who is it for? 
If you are a writer at any stage of your writing  and are keen to explore or start exploring the distinctive features and opportunities within Young Adult fiction, this course is for you!

About Spread the Word’s discounted rates
London Writers Network members receive a 10% discount on Spread the Word’s paid programme of activities, and access to two free specially programmed London Writers Network events a year. You can find out more about the London Writers Network scheme here. If you are a London Writers Network member please login to receive your discount.

To see if you are eligible for a concessionary rate, please take a look at our concessions policy.

If you’d like to read our terms and conditions before booking, you can do so here or they are visible at the bottom of every page on our website.

Course Timetable

Course tutor Helen Donohoe will upload assignments containing exercises and reading materials once a fortnight on the following dates:

Thursday 16th May
Thursday 30th May
Thursday 13th June

Assignments for each week will be due by the following Thursday, with feedback and discussion for the work written each week to take place between:

Assignment 1: Thursday 23rd May - Wednesday 29th May
Assignment 2: Thursday 6th June - Wednesday 12th June
Assignment 3: Thursday 20th June – Wednesday 26th June

We ask that participants commit to providing feedback to at least 1 other participant for each feedback period. Helen Donohoe will give feedback on two of the three assignments you complete during the course.

Although this is not concrete, to help with your planning we would suggest that completing each assignment will take a minimum of 3 hours, and feedback takes around 1 hour for one piece of work.

The course will take place online and will require you to have access to the internet in the dates above. Because of this, we ask that you are confident with using simple online sharing platforms, or at least willing to explore with guidance from Spread the Word. Full instructions will be emailed to participants a week before the course starts. Although there will be no live chats, there will be opportunities to interact with other course participants via feedback and general discussion.

The course will run with a minimum of 10 participants and a maximum of 15.

Helen Donohoe

Course Tutor


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Helen Donohoe’s debut novel Birdy Flynn was published by Oneworld in 2017. She recently completed the MA in Creative Writing (Novels) at City University, London, winning the PFD Novel Writing Prize.

Her other written work has ranged from peer-reviewed papers through to blogs for The Huffington Post and New Statesman and contributions to collection such as For the Love of London (ed. Conrad Gamble). She is also the author of the young person’s book World Issues Today: Terrorism and regularly visits schools to talk to young people about writing.