OpenEd Welcomes Alexandra Jones as Young Adult Writing Instructor

Posted on Friday April 22, 2022
Alexandra Jones
Alexandra Jones

Phillip Pullman, S.E. Hinton, Lois Lowry, Judy Blume. What do all these names have in common? They are just a few of the many authors who have contributed to the influential young adult genre. But there is another name missing from this list: Alexandra Jones—published author and Young Adult Writing course instructor.

While Jones’ passion for writing can’t be traced to a specific moment, having been writing for as long as she can remember, she recalls a time when she first became aware that creative writing was something she could do on a larger scale.

“When I was around 10 years old, I started going to gifted classes once a week,” says Jones. “In that class, I didn’t get in trouble for ignoring lessons to read under my desk like I always had before; instead, Ms. Carlson saw my love of reading and encouraged me to write poetry and short stories, which led me to enter writing contests for kids and gave me the audience I desperately desired as a shy kid who struggled to express herself.”

Even though the popular young adult market is competitive, there are a lot of engaged readers and eager publishers who are looking to read the story you’re dying to tell. And Jones hopes to provide students with the fundamental skills and knowledge needed to be successful.

“We’ll be going over the basics of creating an engaging novel for the young adult audience and talking about key things like voice and pacing,” says Jones. “But I think one of the most valuable parts of any creative writing course is the opportunity to share your work with others and receive feedback from an interested group of peers.”

The unique workshopping format of the course allows students to not only practice giving constructive critiques, but also learn to accept critiques and prepare for working with an editor—as any novel getting published will first be thoroughly edited by the publishing house.

“Hearing what others think about your writing can be key to helping you work through a problem or figure out what is essential and what is not,” explains Jones. “Sometimes an outside perspective can be helpful when you’ve read and reread the same section over and over. And even if you disagree with the feedback, thinking critically about why a person gave a certain critique and why you responded the way you did can help you narrow down what you want to communicate versus what readers might be getting.”

As Jones notes, one of the best ways to develop writing skills and grow as a writer is to read and familiarize yourself with the number of stories and possibilities out there in the young adult world. For those specifically interested in the Young Adult Writing course, she adds further insight.

“Bring your enthusiasm for writing! The biggest thing I’m bringing to the course is my genuine love of young adult writing and I’m excited to talk craft with other writers who are equally invested. And make sure to participate in workshops—writing can be lonely so taking every opportunity to share your work with others and make those connections is so important to maintaining a writing community.”

Young Adult Writing begins Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

 

After completing an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, Alexandra Jones attended the University of Guelph for the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program. She is currently a freelance journalist with CTVNews.ca and previously with the Toronto Star. As a bisexual author, a lot of her work centres on queer experiences and queer communities. Her debut young adult novel, a coming-of-age book called, The Queen of Junk Island, is coming out on May 3, 2022.