A publishing guide for young writers

Niko Lekkas, a YWP alumni, created this guide to publication when he was a senior at South Burlington High School (class of 21). You can download Niko's guide from the attached PDF. Thanks Niko!

Be your own editor

[NYTimes illustration by George Wylesol]
Inspiration for the writer/editor in you: How to Edit Your Own Writing (By Harry Guinness, New York Times, April 7, 2020) Some tips and highlights...


[Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash]


Q: How do I get started?

A: If you are between 13 and 18 years of age, sign up for an account, fill out all the little info boxes so we know you're real, not a bot, and so we can contact you about publication, events, etc. Pick a username that...

Character Deep Dive

From YWP Writer Fiona Ella: This is a template for the questionnaire I use when I’m at a stage of revising a project where I already know my characters and narrative fairly well but need to get to the next level. It shouldn’t be used for developing new characters, because it leaves off a lot of things you’ll need to get to know a new character and should know before starting this. Their voice, their attitude, their past, how they act in different scenarios. 


Poetry - Metaphors

Photo by gg
The metaphor -- a figure of speech that compares two things without using like or as -- and simile -- a comparative that uses like or as -- are the heart of writing poetry. It is what separates poetry from prose in that poems have less specific detail and more is left to the imagination of the reader. Metaphors allow you to express yourself in ways that are fresh and interesting.



Narrative - First Lines

 Photo by gg.
Bill O'Connor, a friend of YWP and a wonderful novelist and columnist, used to write in a daily newspaper about everyday people with unique, funny perspectives and stories. Bills skills were these:
  • He connected with his subjects and so drew from them great detail and open expression.
  • He chose his details well and sparingly
  • He used dialogue well
And he had great...

Narrative - Character Development

Photo by gg.
This character development resource centers on going deep with your characters, through music. But first some quick overall tips on developing your characters, plus an exercise to do:
  • Before you start writing, know what the story is about: Define your story in 15 words or less; then define it in a paragraph.
  • All characters should have a want or need; the dramatic tension is their...

Poetry - Haiku, etc.


The haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that developed out of group poetry.  Nearly nine hundred years ago groups of young poets gathered to write together what is called a renga, a type of collaborative poem.  By the 1400s the short sections of the poem broke from the long poem and developed into haiku.

Daistez T. Suzuki, a Japenese author said this: “Haikus get inside an object, experience the object’s life, and feel its feelings.”


College Essay -- Tips

(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by semacdonald, Sheldon, VT)

One of the most frightening things to write is the College Essay. How in the world can I write a compelling essay that will get me into college? A couple of things to keep in mind:
  • This is a part of your overall application. It's not the be-all and end-all;...

Narrative - Protagonist

A story (whether it be a short story, novel, play or narrative poem) has these elements:
  • A setting -- the place in which the action takes place. Sometimes the setting itself becomes a character or is important in shaping the characters.
  • A protagonist -- the main character, the one the reader is supposed to care about.
  • Wants/needs -- the main characters need or want something and that drives the action; this can be...

Digital Story -- The Photo/Audio story


(A challenge for this resource: Elder Story)

This is an example of a simple audio photo story. The text is purposely not included so that you can listen to the story while looking closely at the photograph. YWP Founder Geoffrey Gevalt did this story in a relatively short span of time. First, he wrote a short essay about his uncle, Frank Glazer. He read it aloud and then did some editing. Then he decided upon the most important part, read it aloud...

Photo Tips


This set of slidshow tips are from YWP's old friend, Jean Luc Dushime, a photographer now living in California but originally from Rwanda. We appreciate his work which can be found here: http://jeanlucdushime.com/ or on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dushimejl/


The Personal Essay

Photo by Deanna Santo, Danville High School
What is a personal essay? YWP defines it as a piece that focuses on an insight, realization or belief about life that is significant to the writer. We believe that all good personal essays should include narrative, that is a story about a significant event -- this is what draws the reader in -- and can include what is...
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Grammar Resources

People are more likely to hold onto grammar rules if they learned them in a fun, easy to comprehend way. Here are some fun and creative grammar resources.


The Yuniversity 
This website is a treasure trove. It has grammar rules covering punctuation, syntax, spelling, and more. They even have essay writing resources. Plus, they post SAT words everyday with easy to...

Editing Process

Editing and revising a piece can be one of the hardest parts of writing. Yet, it is one of the most important stages of writing. Here is a suggested process to help you organize yourself when editing. 

1. Read your piece to yourself to find big problems. 
       When editing, let yourself be the first set of eyes. ONLY look at big picture items. Things such as topic/theme consistency, relevancy, clarity, voice, tone, imagery, order, message, and length are often...

Basic Grammar: Punctuation

Most people avoid learning about grammar like it's a 2:00 pm test on a Friday. Yet, grammar is not only important for making your work polished and professional, but it's important in terms of comprehension as well. Here are five basic punctuation marks that you should master (not all the rules are here, but these are the biggies):
  1.  The apostrophe. The common mistake people make with the apostrophe is that they use it to...
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Basic Recording Tips

When recording someone, or yourself, there are a few tips that will make your experience go that much smoother.

Smartphone. Yes, they have come a long way baby. Most smartphones now have very strong recording capabilities. Whatever app you prefer make sure it gives you some flexibility -- quality of recording and file format. If possible, choose the highest quality and .wav format so you are saving the most material. The tricky part, always, is how you get the...



Presenting can be scary. Whether you are giving a speech, doing stand-up, or reading a creative writing piece you wrote, it can be nerve-wracking. Almost everyone gets stage fright, even actors. But, knowing some helpful tips can get you through your presentation, and help you deliver it with a greater sense of confidence. 

Try these tips:

Grammar Strategies


The English language is complex, so it can be hard to keep all those rules in your head. You need a strategy.

Try these grammar strategies:
  • Catch phrases. People use odd phrases to help them memorize things. The phrase My Very Elderly Mother Just Sat on Uncle Ned can help you memorize the order of the planets. You can do the same to help you memorize grammar. For instance, F.A.N.B.O.Y.S stands for each word that can...


Photography you use in newsmedia articles — plays by different rules than photography you do for artistic purposes. You have to be respectful, you need to respect the basic integrity of the photos (no dramatic altering of your photos via a photo editing software) and you need to be careful not to show a bias. 

Gathering Information. In any situation where you are gathering information from someone -- even if for a project that will only be seen in a private venue...

Basic Grammar: Words

An often very confusing part of writing is when to use what word and where to use it. More than once you've probably had someone tell you, "You said that wrong!" Here are a few common usage/grammar rules that often get mixed up by writers.

1. You and I vs. You and me. People have a hard time remembering which phrase you are supposed to say and when. To learn this rule, you just need to remember your subject pronouns and object pronouns. 


Details: Concrete vs. Abstract

We want our writing to feel genuine, and to connect with our readers to the point where they can visualize our words in their heads. A great way to learn to connect to readers through writing is by understanding the difference between concrete and abstract details. A concrete detail or image will help engage your readers by getting them to create a visual picture of your writing in their own minds.

Concrete vs Abstract. A concrete detail/image is one that is...

Free Write -- Rationale

Writing is like panning for gold or hunting for diamonds. If you get good at it, you gain a skill needed to succeed, to gain confidence, to fully participate in any learning activity and to be active in community life -- If you can express yourself, you are more apt to participate. Simple as that.

But learning to write well takes practice.

Your YWP digital classroom platform is a great space for students to practice -- to experiment, to play, to focus. Just about...

Questions for Editing

Editing your piece of writing is not about making sure the grammar or spelling is correct -- save that for when you polish the FINAL draft -- it's about making sure that the content is at its full potential. It is about revision.

In your first big edit of a piece of work, make sure of the main point and that it is conveyed; put another way, it is why you're writing this piece. And don't worry, it may take a few revisions to fully unearth the main concept...

Free Write -- Tips

A note from Geoffrey Gevalt, YWP Founder and award-winning journalist: Sometimes, when you sit down to write, you can't see the trees for the forest. When, in fact, you're looking for the light. That one sparkling idea. And it doesn't come. And that's why Young Writers Project has long believed that challenges, or prompts, offer you, the writer, a safety net. Can't think of something to write about? No burning issue? No startling thing you noticed and remember? No...

Setting -- Examples

Photo of Toni Morrison, The Guardian, 2009

Sometimes, the best resource is to see how others do it. Notice how the following passages (from a couple of GG's favorite books) help evoke mood and tone and provide important details for the story -- all through setting. They also show how easily the setting floats into character development and/or  storytelling:

Beloved by Toni Morrison

124 was...