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BYU Graduate Students Host Third Annual Novel Writing Conference

With increasing interest in writing young adult literature, BYU graduate students strive to help undergraduate students find the literary resources and connections they need to be successful.

From amateur authors to the practically-published, it is no secret that everyone appreciates a leg-up to help them succeed. BYU creative writing graduate students understand this, and for the past three years have planned and organized the summer Young Adult Novelist Conference (YANCON), an undergraduate writing conference designed to help students improve their writing and learn more about the path to publication.

YANCON was originally founded to support the rise of young adult literature and the authors behind these stories. Rebecca Cazanave, a graduate student who has helped orchestrate the event for the past two summers, explained, “There’s a ton of interest at BYU in novel writing, specifically young adult, and students are looking for ways to learn more.”

The conference serves many purposes, even beyond teaching interested students about young adult novel writing. Cazanave noted, “One of our objectives for YANCON is to help writers find each other and to create writing communities at BYU.”

Cazanave continued, “If students are interested in writing in any capacity, apply to YANCON. The application process requires a writing sample, but I wouldn’t let that intimidate anybody. It’s definitely catered to an undergraduate audience, so we take writers wherever they are. And we have diversity of experience. Some people [have] practically no experience, [and] some people have finished several novels.”

Thanks to the grants from the College of Humanities, YANCON is free of charge to BYU undergraduate students. Even though the conference was held remotely this year due to coronavirus concerns, the conference was a huge success, and the staff is already preparing for next year’s event.

YANCON provides a place for writers of all abilities to come together and learn more about the genre that they love. This conference has grown in numbers each year, and Cazanave hopes it will continue to thrive.

—Heather Bergeson (English, ’22)

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