Bildungsroman Writing Tips For YA Success

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What is a Bildungsroman?

A Bildungsroman is a coming of age story that emphases the psychological, spiritual and moral changes that the protagonist endures as they transition from an innocent youth to a mature adult.

Where does the word “Bildungsroman” come from?

“Bildungsroman” originates from two German words Bildungs (formation) and Roman (novel).

What is the general plot line of a Bildungsroman?

The young protagonist goes on a quest for answers to questions that they have about themselves and the world around them. This may also be a mission to save their community, where the protagonist will learn more about themselves as well.

The story commences with an emotional loss, conflict or breaking point that thrusts the innocent protagonist on their journey of self-discovery.

He/ She matures in the duration of the novel due to a combination of external circumstances and challenges as well as choices that they have to make.

After the protagonist reaches maturity they are equipped with the knowledge of how to deal with the situation that sent them on the journey in the first place and they are able to make peace with themselves in the end.

How do you know a story is a Bildungsroman?

Bildungsromans usually have a character who looks back on their childhood.

They are often narrated in first-person, but may have a third-person narration if the author wanted to show the protagonist’s development from a distance.

Tips for writing a Bildungsroman:

  • Write with your reader in mind – Show them how to deal with their emotional realities through your protagonist.
  • Address your reader’s philosophical needs in a way that is easy for them to digest.
  • Answer questions that the young adult may have about the world and their imminent journey into adulthood, while paying special attention to the questions that they may have about defining themselves and finding their space in the world.
  • Your reader should be able to step into the shoes of your protagonist in order for them to gain the maximum value from your novel.

Famous Bildungsroman examples:


Great Expectations

Harry Potter

Inside Out

Little Women

Lord of the Flies

Star Wars: A New Hope

The Hunger Games

The Secret Garden

To Kill a Mockingbird

Toy Story


Have you written a coming of age story before? Do you have any tips you would like to share with me? Did you find this post helpful? Let me know by commenting below!


Love and Blessings,

Lindsay Sign Off New


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