A Fiction Editor’s Advice

Just in time to inspire you to write and SUBMIT to YARN this summer, Fiction Editor Diana Renn has some excellent tips for you.  What’s your YARN?  Seriously.  We want to know.  Oh, and don’t forget to check out Diana’s globetrotting YA mystery Tokyo Heistwhich just came out in paperback for your summer-travel-and-beach reading convenience.


Where has the time gone? I just joined YARN in February . . . but what a whirlwind four months! Since I’ve come on board, I have had the pleasure of working with a variety of writers on polishing their pieces for publication, from high school student Amir Tamimi (“Iman in Iran”) to New York Times bestselling author Ned Vizzini (“Strike a Chord.”) I’ve had so much fun getting to know my fellow YARN staffers, celebrating National Poetry Month, picking up great new writing tips from author interviews (Elizabeth Hand! Sarah Tregay!), co-hosting a YA party with Kerri Majors at the AWP conference, and cooking up some other fun surprises. My YARN experience so far has been anything but straightforward. It’s got all kinds of bows and loops and pretty cross-stitches. I am having so much fun!

I’ve also loved reading the fiction submissions. We have an amazing team of readers to help us manage everything. Everything sent to YARN goes by at least three readers. I also look at every single story that comes in. I love seeing the wide variety of topics, genres, and styles. But I especially love seeing how many young authors are sending in work. Exactly one-third of our spring season submissions have come from writers in high school or college.

This thrills me. Because you know what? It is an act of courage to take something you’ve written – something from your heart, something you’ve labored over, maybe something you’ve never even shown anyone before – and send it to complete strangers at a magazine. In the hopes that it will find a home there and be read by even more complete strangers. Yikes!

But that’s what authors do. We’re writing not just for ourselves. We believe that our stories are important and can impact other people.

So if you are young, and if you are submitting work to magazines like ours, I want you to know, you are rare. Trust me. Most people do not do this. To see a story (or a book, or any creative project) through to completion, really, that’s special. To take time to polish a story, to research markets, to send that story out into the world –not everyone goes that extra mile. Not everyone takes the risk.

If you’ve submitted something to YARN, and received a rejection from us, please don’t be discouraged. Rejection is part of the business. Learning that early is an important lesson in every writer’s career. The rejection of a story is not personal at all. It just means that the story may not be developed enough yet, or it’s not right for our market. Even authors far along in their careers continue to get rejections.

If we’ve asked you to send us something else? Please do! That request means we saw something in your work that intrigues us. Maybe it’s your voice, your style, your characters, your subjection matter, or the emotional terrain of your stories.

And before you send in a story, you might ask yourself (or ask a trusted reader friend) questions like these:

  • Is my story really YA? Is it focused on characters who are 14-18 years old, and dealing with situations of interest to YA readers?
  • Does my story start in the right place? Is the ending satisfying?
  • Is my story really a short story – or should it be a longer work?  Can this story be resolved, or this character developed, in 6,000 words or less?
  • Is my story really a short story – or should it be a poem? Am I more interested in style and language? Do I use an unconventional structure that seems better suited to poetic form?
  • Does something happen in this story? Does a character grow or change or realize something?

Have a great summer, everyone, and happy writing!

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What Is YARN?

It's a brilliant thing to have a place where you can read fresh original short stories by both seasoned YA authors and aspiring teens. YARN is a great tool box for growing up writing. - Cecil Castellucci

Imagine. Envision. Write. Revise. Submit. Read.

YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices...including teens.

We also believe in feedback, which is why we encourage readers to post comments on pieces that inspire thought, emotion, laughter...or whatever.

So. What's your YARN?

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