How to Write Young Adult Fantasy: Part 2 — Big-Picture Elements

Diane Callahan
13 min readApr 14, 2021

“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if you only dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”

The above quote comes from a pivotal moment in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Some might find it cheesy, but writing YA means tapping into those teenage moments of feeling the world is full of infinite possibilities. When looking at the big picture, remember that fantasy stories are about capturing that sense of adventure.

Part one focused on the target audience and qualities of popular YA fantasy novels. Here, we’ll cover the first three of the six core elements of a successful work in this genre:

  • Using a high-concept premise
  • Creating vivid world-building
  • Writing in a strong narrative voice

Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, I’ve chosen example titles that are widely popular or have won awards. They represent what has captured readers’ imaginations in the past few decades.