Yallwrite plans to put emphasis on young authors and the craft of writing | Photos Courtesy of YALLFest

Grab a Pen

Nov. 13 (12 p.m.), Nov. 14 (10 a.m.)
Free to Register

YALLFest, the Lowcountry’s annual festival dedicated to written works for young adults, is at it again with a new approach. Just like its sister festival, YALLWest, YALLFest is moving onto the internet this year. And along with the new format, YALLFest organizers are referring to 2020’s festivities as YALLWrite.

“We realized that [moving online] presented a unique opportunity to do something totally different and to focus on craft, and to bring some of the most acclaimed and best-selling writings for young adults together to actually teach the nuts and bolts of craft,” said festival co-chair Alex London.

YALLWrite is all about the process of creating stories, building worlds and everything that goes into putting the pen to paper. “It’s an exploration and a celebration and a chance to learn about the art and craft of creating literature for young people,” London explained. 

This year’s panels and classes will cover a wide mix of conversations that can help aspiring and established artists better understand their craft. Some of the topics up for discussion are broad and heady, like writing as a political act or creating queer inclusive worlds on the page. Others will study the nitty-gritty of creative writing: how to plan a series, how to write realistic dialogue, how to write graphic novels. 

London is particularly excited about a panel on story structure, which he is moderating. “I’m obsessed with story structure,” he said. “There’s a lot to explore from different writers about how they structure their stories, how Western conceptions of stories are structured versus non-Western conceptions.”

Plenty of genres will also be represented, thanks to the swath of writers YALLWrite pulled, including Brandon Mull, Brandy Colbert, Renee Ahdieh and Soman Chainani. In all, over 70 authors will participate in YALLWrite. Each individual, London said, brings their own experiences.

“Each writer is an expert on their own writing and each person we’ve invited brings some unique perspective to the table on creating stories and on this particular moment in American life,” he said. “We designed the topics to be interesting and engaging and inclusive, but we’re certainly not going to dictate what the authors talk about or should be concerned with.”

YALLWrite’s online format is one factor that could impact the festival in a few ways, including its spontaneity.

“Part of YALLFest’s fun is that it’s one of the wackier book festivals you’ll ever attend, and I hope that wackiness is preserved,” London said. “That could change the nature of it, but this is all very new, so I’m not sure how it changes the nature of it.”

But, not every aspect of YALLWrite could be done away with next year. London’s excited about this year’s focus on young creatives gaining a foothold in the craft of writing. “I like the idea, especially with the students that we’re reaching out to, that there will be a lot of opportunities for their creation to be emphasized, for them to be celebrated as writers,” he said.

Thanks to some outreach by YALLWrite and book donations to local schools, London hopes to continue to put the attention on young writers. “It’s not just about the authors and their expertise, but it’s really about readers as writers and the students as writers, and decentering the author as this wise force of all expertise, and really uplifting the young writers and readers as a part of that writing community.” 

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