Young Adult (YA) literature has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It’s probably because “Twilight,” “Hunger Games,” “Divergent,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and a handful of other YA books have been turned into movies. I like to think that’s the case because the books were great stories.
Say what you want about YA novels, but they have an ability to capture the formative nature of teenage years that I’ve yet to see elsewhere.
Take Stephen Chbosky’s “Perks of Being a Wallflower” for example. It’s the quintessential story of the high school misfit finding his place. But by adding a history of sexual abuse and mental illness, Chbosky writes a story that shows the impact our teenage years have on our lives.
John Green does this in “Looking for Alaska” and “Fault in Our Stars.” One chronicles the average life of a guy in boarding school who’s in love with the girl he can’t have. The other is simply a love story of teenagers who understand the importance of living your life. Yet somehow, Green takes seemingly straightforward plot lines and puts into words the unexplainable feeling of being an invincible teenager.
Of course, YA is done poorly as well. Just look at “Twilight” or “Divergent.” “Twilight” is about an unhealthy dependent relationship and “Divergent” is remarkably similar to other YA dystopian novels.
As much as I might enjoy the books for ease of reading after a semester’s worth of course required books, they really don’t do the YA genre any good. Both series use simplistic sentence structure that require no effort to read. Which I believe does a disservice to the young adult reading it.
YA lit should be both a comfort and a challenge.
But how can you make sure you fall in the category of successful and not reductive?
By writing a story that is relatable, not sentimental. By giving careful thought to the development of your characters and plot.
This is easy to read, but putting it into practice can be difficult. Sometimes, you just need that push to get you going.
Here are 50 creative writing prompts for YA that are sure to help you on your endeavor to write a meaningful story. Mix them up if you think that works best for you, but make sure that in the end, you have created something that has helped you and your writing.
Two helpful links for YA writers:
50 Creative Writing Prompts for YA Writers
- A brother and sister discover their dad has been having an affair with their favorite counselor at school.
- A girl is looking through old family albums with her mom and finds a picture of her as a child, sitting on the lap of man she doesn’t remember. She decides to find out who the man is.
- In the span of one week, a high school senior in the heart of Los Angeles is dumped by his girlfriend and told by his parents that they’re separating. He decides to live with his dad and they move to the place he grew up, a very small farming town in central California.
- A group of friends go to a party one night but wake up the next morning in a white tiled room with a one way mirror on one of the walls. They’re dressed in hospital gowns and each of them has a red scar on their right forearm.
- After her mom has died from cancer, Rylie finds a bundle of envelopes addressed to her in her mom’s handwriting. She opens the one on top and finds a slip of paper that reads: Summer of ’77, 142 Brooks Ct, WA.
- Josh is the only one who doesn’t pass the aptitude test, so when everyone else his age is moved to their new home, he is forced to stay with the Forsaken.
- It’s been 7 months since the accident and 3 months of physical therapy. On his last day of therapy, Chris is told that the person who was the prime suspect in his case has been cleared of all charges.
- The girl that Jordan’s been in love with for the past year gets into a major car accident, putting her in the hospital’s ICU.
- After a memorial service ends, a daughter lingers at her dad’s spot and leaves flowers for him. When she comes back the next day, more flowers have been added by someone else.
- When Kristin arrives for the first day of her new job, the store has been boarded up. She notices a note tucked under the doormat instructing her to go out back. When she does, she finds a door emitting a glowing green light.
- Alyssa is diagnosed with Asperger’s the same month she starts high school.
- Charlie heads back to his locker after class is let out but stops when he sees Marley, the girl he’s had a crush on throughout high school, standing beside his locker.
- A group of kids who have been friends since first grade leave their senior prom and decide to go on a road trip before going their separate ways for college.
- Ever since he was a little boy, Luke would spend every night in his backyard, lying on his back with Ashley and trying to name the constellations. But he can’t do that anymore.
- Zac lined up with everyone else in their black gowns and mortar hats. Just as the procession was about to begin, he remembered his first day of junior year English, when she walked into class after it had already begun.
If you like these YA prompts, check out all the other creative writing prompts here at Bookfox.
- photo writing prompts
- musical prompts
- creative nonfiction prompts
- first line generators
- and more
- While her roommate is out of town, Hannah is woken up by the sound of someone in her room.
- The Collective only sought after teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17, and tomorrow was David’s 15th birthday.
- September came and that meant it was time for the annual trip to the family cabin.
- He woke up to excruciating pain and a blinding white light.
- A month before graduating, a senior gets shunned by all five of her closest friends, and she can’t figure out why.
- A guy live broadcasts a Ouija board session on Periscope, and though the people present don’t see anything special, his lone friend who was watching goes insane.
- In his junior year, the high school quarterback is told by his doctor that because of several concussions he’s received, there is a risk of permanent brain damage if he plays football his senior year. Does he decide to play or not?
- A male teenager who loves video games and organizes the chess club struggles with how to tell their parents that he wants to become a female.
- After being together for 5 months, a high school couple decides to have sex for the first time.
- A teenager with a 4.0 GPA is rejected by all twelve of the colleges she applied to, and decides to go to each college and confront each counselor who rejected her, demanding to know why they ruined her future.
- The “it” couple on campus is forced to break up when one of them moves across country for college.
- A teenager who has spent their entire life on a boat learns that there are other people in the world and they live on land.
- A 14-year-old teenager who is a musical protege is diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.
- A teenager makes candles and delivers them to the senior center where unbeknownst to her, her estranged grandfather lives.
- A teenager in the foster care system who is relocated seven times in seven years finally finds a family which is loving and functional, until he discovers the father’s dark secret.
- After being kicked out of their high school, a teenager is enrolled in the same boarding school his older sibling attended, and discovers there is a mysterious club there that he wants to join.
- A high school basketball star is the prime suspect in a murder trial of his ex-girlfriend.
- While all their friends are away for the summer, a soon-to-be senior spends his summer vacation working at the community pool, and falls in love with a girl in eighth grade.
- A teenager thinks she has it made when she lands the hottest college guy, until he dies in a fiery car accident and she learns about all his other girlfriends.
- After attending their first high school party, a freshman goes to school next week to learn that a video of her drunk and saying racist things is circulating around school.
- Two days after finishing up his first year at college, a teenager realizes he’s in love with a girl who just graduated and moved back home to a different state.
- While on a family vacation in Hawaii, Andrew tries surfing for the first time and receives help from one of the other surfers. It’s not until he gets back on shore that his brother tells him he just surfed with Kelly Slater.
- On Natalie’s first day on the job as a white water rafting coach, she loses one of her rafters in the waves.
- Instead of getting off on his exit, Charlie kept driving up the west coast until he hit the Canadian border.
- After being teased throughout middle school, a teenager decides to lose weight. But he’s really doing it because he’s ashamed of his overweight parents.
- After three failed suicide attempts, Liz’s doctor recommends she transfers to a new school.
- A teenager keeps a book full of intimate conversations she has overheard at her school. One day it goes missing and little by little, the conversations are leaked to the entire school.
- A teen’s mom abandons their family one night and leaves no trace of where she’s gone. But her children are determined to find her and learn why she left.
- In the middle of the night, Nate receives a call from his best friend’s mom informing him that her son had committed suicide.
- Lucy didn’t want middle of the night visits from her dad anymore, and the only way she knew how to end them was to run away.
- While house sitting for his neighbors, Stephen invites some friends over to hang out and watch a movie, but when they see the Porsche in the garage they decide to take it for a drive, even though none of them has their license.
- Emily has been trying for years to get recognized by a recording label and decides she’ll play one last show before calling it quits. When she takes the stage, she sees an executive from a Nashville label in the audience.
- Jake has messed up one too many times and his parents have sent him to a behavioral correction school. If he messes up again, he goes straight to juvenile detention.
- Jess spent every day after school writing in her journal about a world she had created and could escape to. One night after writing, she dreams of her world; but if she doesn’t wake up before sunrise, the dream will become reality and she won’t be able to get back.
- A teenage werewolf grew up in a world filled with witches, vampires, werewolves, and mermaids. But then she comes across a book that tells of a world full of only humans, and it changes her forever.