Writers On Writing / Wai Chim on writing YA fiction

“Early on in my writing career, I wasn’t quite skilled enough to control a longer and more complex YA narrative. There’s a lot involved in writing strong and impactful stories for teens – their bullshit meter is finely tuned so we as writers have to make sure what our writing will resonate with their core truths and that takes a lot of practice and craft.”

How did you get started publishing YA fiction?

I started out writing junior fiction and early chapter books for younger readers before making the switch to YA with Freedom Swimmer published in 2016 and The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling in 2019.

What are the trends dominating YA fiction at the moment? Are there any you wish were more prevalent?

I’m thrilled to see that diversity and representation are becoming hot titles in YA at the moment – it has taken a long time to get here and there’s still a lot of work to be done to make up for decades of marginalising and silencing these voices. I’m seeing a trend in the US for writers of colour, LGBTQ+ writers and #ownvoices coming to the forefront and it’s great to see this is happening in Australia too. I’m excited to read more!

You’re about to run a workshop with us called Online: Writing YA, can you give us a hint regarding what’s in store for our writers?

The workshop provides a breakdown on some of the differences between writing for kids and writing for young adults and how an emerging writer can start to bring together the elements that are needed to create a riveting YA story. I look forward to meeting all the writers and finding out more about what they’re working on!


Wai Chim is the bestselling author of The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling. She is a first generation Chinese-American from New York City. Her previous books include the Chook Chook series and Shaozhen, part of the Through My Eyes: Natural Disaster Zone series. Freedom Swimmer was her debut novel for young adults and was shortlisted for the inaugural Readings Young Adult Book Prize.

Join Wai Chim for her online course for writing YA, 14 July to 20 July. Enrol here >>

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