Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults

by Cheryl B. Klein

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THE MAGIC WORDS: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults

by Cheryl B. Klein

384 pp., $18.95


W. W. Norton

Released September 6, 2016


Great children’s and young adult novels offer their readers both wonderful outward adventures and stirring inward journeys. In The Magic Words, Cheryl B. Klein draws on fifteen years of experience as an editor to guide writers on an enjoyable and practical-minded journey of their own. She provides a complete overview of the writing, editing, and publication processes, from developing a saleable premise for a novel to querying your dream agent. She also explains the differences in content and approach for middle-grade vs. young adult novels, and discusses vital contemporary topics in the field like self-publishing, world-building, and creating diverse characters. The book delves deep into the major elements of fiction—intention, character, plot, and style—while its original exercises, thought-provoking questions, and solid rules of thumb help writers apply its insights to their individual creative work. With its generous tone and useful tools for story analysis and revision, The Magic Words is an essential handbook for writers of children’s and young adult fiction. 

Click here for links to professional reviews, interviews with Cheryl, and Cheryl's writing published in conjunction with the book.


Advance Praise for The Magic Words

The Magic Words manages to articulate, in clear and compelling language, what others rely on intuition to understand. The result is a comprehensive and engaging examination of what readers will recognize to be true about the best novels―and yet have never heard expressed.” ― Eliot Schrefer, two-time National Book Award nominee for Endangered and Threatened

“Inspiring, comprehensive, and insightful, The Magic Words ably fills a gaping hole on the shelves of developing and experienced writers alike. An essential guide to the art and craft of writing for young readers.” ― Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy and Breadcrumbs

Insightful, enlightening, and practical, The Magic Words is a book that belongs on every writer’s shelf. Loaded with concrete examples and specific strategies, it’s likely to end up dog-eared and well worn―that favorite book on craft that writers revisit again and again with each new project.” ― Kate Messner, author of The Seventh Wish and the Ranger in Time series

“What Cheryl B. Klein talks about when she talks about writing is what every aspiring children’s and young adult novelist needs to hear. She offers generous insights, frank talk, nuts and bolts advice, editorial wisdom, and ample encouragement. The Magic Words is all the inspiration and guidance you’ll need to get your novel started, and more importantly, to get it finished.” ― John Dufresne, author of The Lie That Tells a Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction and I Don’t Like Where This Is Going)