EVENTS SCBWI Young Fiction Weekend 2022

SCBWI British Isles ended their Feburary events with the Young Fiction Weekend. Organised by the PULSE team, the YF Weekend consisted of two effervescent days of webinars interspersed with live sessions with industry experts, video talks by authors, and a pitch-for-feedback session. Words & Pictures invited a panelist and attendee to tell us about their experience of the YF Weekend 2022. 

Why not? by Alison Gardiner

The words that launched a thousand adventures. No sooner had they left my keyboard than I was plunged into SCBWI volunteering, a world filled with fun, camaraderie, progress, success. There’s the occasional life raspberry, but never enough to cause a jam; we laugh and carry on.

Co-organising the SCWBI YF weekend was fantastic. At our first meeting we’d mulled over the seeds of an idea, armed mainly with enthusiasm and the desire to reach into the future to create a valuable experience for our fellow writers. There’s magic in forging something concrete out of a dream, choosing dates, concepts, contributors, while acting as the glue holding our plan together. Once we’d decided on our speakers, we knew they’d bring with them fantastic content, experience and knowledge. It was like constructing a house by bolting fully built rooms onto a framework. ‘Where you want your pitch panel?’ ‘Over there, please. Place it just beyond reception.’ Sorted.

We Zoomed along merrily, Mo O’Hara helming brilliantly, the rest of us crew very happy to be on board, taking our voyage seriously enough to drink grapes to prevent scurvy. Skills melded: someone had masses of previous experience (not me), someone else knew many fabulous people in the industry (still not me), someone was a computer whizz (guess, you’ll be right) and someone lived by spreadsheets (finally me). A recipe to achieve our shared goals. Although, not all our goals were shared; my request for Chris Hemsworth as a literary guest was declined with a heavy sigh.

Our wonderful delegates were the sine qua non. A massive thanks to them for their support, feedback, ideas, questions and for being there. It was like working inside a virtual hug.

Was it worth it? Absolutely yes. The weekend was huge fun, satisfying, positive, a bit character-building at times but overall a glorious joy.

Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat. I’m already setting off on the next project. As a pig hunts truffles, so I seek fun with my new friends. Ready for another journey, truffle-mates?

So if someone ask you to volunteer for SCBWI, why not?

Novels by Alison Gardiner

I want to make my writing better, by Charlie Bown

The Young Fiction Weekend was the first SCBWI (paid for) event I have attended since joining last year and it certainly won’t be my last. As jam packed as, well, a jam sandwich, and just as delicious – I devoured every session, every word, every exciting detail like a ravenous beast. I was blown away by the huge amount of information I took in over the two days and my mind was still buzzing with ideas and plans well over a week later. The icing on the cake, for me, was having the first 500 words of my YF manuscript read aloud and critiqued by Jasmine Richards (author and founder of Storymix) and Clare Whitston (freelance editor) at the Pitch Panel.

I want to make my writing better. I want it to be the best it can be and so when this opportunity came up I jumped at the chance and was delighted to hear that my 500 words had been one of ten manuscripts chosen to be critiqued. Was I nervous? Just a little. But mostly I was excited, because two incredibly talented (and very friendly!) superstars in the world of children’s literature were going to share industry secrets and they were going to use my writing as a springboard!

The feedback I received was as inspiring as it was informative and delivered with a huge amount of respect for the time, energy and bravery which goes into submitting writing. For many of us sending work out to agents, there is so little information that comes back. Sometimes a standard rejection and sometimes nothing at all. To have five minutes of expert advice about how my writing might be digested by agents and publishers was invaluable. I learnt just as much hearing the other writers’ work read out and critiqued as I did with my own.

Writing can be a lonely existence and self-doubt can easily creep in. How do we know our writing is on track for submission? Getting better? Anywhere near industry standard? Sometimes we don’t know until we show it to someone else who can be more objective, which is why critique groups are so highly regarded in the industry. But if you ever get the opportunity to show your work to professionals and hear their feedback – take it. You won’t regret it.

*Feature image designed by Natelle Quek


Photo credit: Kt Bruce Photography

Alison Gardiner is the author of The Serpent of Eridor and Alchemy: Jumanji meets Girl of Ink and Stars. Alison has written several picture books and she has 2 YF books, currently being re-re-edited, and has a brain full of so many bits of ideas it really needs de-fragging. 

Alison loves to travel, having spent her early years in Jamaica, USA, Gibraltar and Scotland. She loves gathering flashes of ideas to weave into tales. She’s ridden a camel, fed elephants, cuddled snakes and patted a hippo. She attributes her wildlife fearlessness to having four children. Find Alison at


Photo credit: Charlie Bown

Charlie is a poet and children’s author as well as a teacher, musical theatre fan and sock finder. Her first poetry collection for children, There’s a Poem in my Dungarees!, was published last year. She loves playing and being silly – with words and in real life. Find Charlie at, or Twitter @CharlieDBown, or


Eva Wong Nava is working on her first YF book. She is the Events Editor at Words & Pictures. You can contact her at

Natelle Quek is an illustrator and a SCBWI volunteer. 

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