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Writing Tips and Advice for YAFF 2021

The Library encourages young authors, ages 5-18, from all over the greater Paris area to use their imaginations and prepare to submit an original story in English to the Young Authors Fiction Festival. YAFF is free of charge to enter.  Through the art and craft of storytelling, the Library hopes to inspire future writers and foster a lifelong love of writing and reading.

The deadline for YAFF submissions is 1 April 2021 by 22h00. When you are ready to submit a story, be sure to fill out the online submission form for your grade and upload your story before the deadline.  The submission guidelines can be found on our website. 

The top five stories in each grade are published by the Library in two YAFF Celebration Booklets, making the winners published authors! The past booklets from 2013 onwards are available for check out from the Library collection.  

The YAFF judging team is made up of over 100 volunteer judges who donate their time and expertise to read all the submitted stories. The judging team chooses the top five stories in each grade. Each YAFF submission is read by at least three judges, and some grades go through multiple judging rounds. This year we asked the YAFF Committee and judges to give advice and tips to our young authors. 

“Think of the story you’ve always wanted to read. Write that story. Think of the characters you’ve always wanted to read about. Write those characters.” That’s a tip from author Kate Gavino, who is judging for the Library’s Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF) for the first time this year. 

“There is no right or wrong way to write a story! Every writer has a different way of doing things, but the one thing everyone has to do for YAFF is follow the submission guidelines   make sure you check them over before you submit your story!” says YAFF Coordinator Kirsty.

Ann Jacobus has been judging for YAFF since its beginning! Her advice is “to use all five senses in your story. Not just what a character sees but what they hear, smell, taste, and feel.”

“If you are ever stuck in your story or writing, try to bring in your own experiences. Your experiences and your way of life are unique, and that will make your story unique,” says the Library’s Collections Librarian Bojan, who has judged for the last 3 years.

Pauline Lemasson was on the YAFF Committee for ten years and is now in her 2nd year as a judge. She says the most important thing for her “is the ending. The ending stays with me. You need to make me feel something.”

George de Menibus, who participated twice in YAFF when he was part of the Library’s Teen Writing Group, “can’t recommend YAFF enough.” He says, “The process is incredibly fun. Even if you don’t get picked [in the top 5], writing a story for yourself is exciting and not like writing for school.” As a past participant in YAFF, George knows how important the judges are, and is going to judge this year for the first time.  

Follow the Library on social media for more advice, videos, and stories from the YAFF Committee and judges

The YAFF 2021 Committee is made up of Library volunteers Katherine Youngblood, Martha Simmons, Brooke Burns, and Molly Belhiteche, who process all of the submissions to the festival, as well as Children’s and Teens’ Services Manager Celeste Rhoads, and Children’s and Teens’ Services Librarian Kirsty McCulloch Reid, who coordinates the festival. 

The Library would like to thank all the YAFF volunteers who are giving their time. Without the volunteers on the committee and the 100 volunteer judges YAFF would not be possible. 

For more information on YAFF, please visit the Library website YAFF page.

Happy Writing!

— Kirsty McCulloch Reid, YAFF Coordinator and Children’s and Teens’ Librarian.

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