Okay, I know I talked about this teen writing contest I’m judging last week, but I’m not ready to stop discussing it yet. Probably because it took up most of my writing-related time this past week. And also because I think it’s fun to view this contest how agents would view a slush pile. Since I love to hear agent recaps of what’s in their slush pile, I thought all of you might enjoy a similar thing. And this might be even more helpful to you YA writers, because these are the stories that teens today have on their mind (and boy, might it surprise you, like it did me).
Number of stories with the following genres, themes, beginnings, and everything else I felt like noting—out of around 70 stories total:
- Stories where someone dies, is found dead, or killed: 16
- Someone attacked, “jumped,” beaten, or abused: 9
- Involved thieves/stupid criminals: 2
- Involved a criminal trial: 2
- Centered on gangs: 2
- Kidnapping took place: 1
- Detective stories: 5
- Centered around an illness: 3
- Most of the story took place in a hospital: 5
- War/military stories: 4
- Vacation stories: 8
- Sports the central topic: 6
- Family “issue” stories or stories on divorce: 6
- Stories all about job troubles or interviews: 6
- All about relationships, dating, or crushes: 5
- About moving or starting a new school: 3
- Night-out or day-out recaps: 3
- Story about supermodels: 2
- About actors/actresses: 2
- Story about literally nothing: 2
- Centered on music: 1
- Centered on a dog/pet: 2
- Ghost stories/heaven stories: 3
- Alien stories: 2
- Story involving Candy People: 1
- Fairy stories: 1
- Storm stories: 1
- Start with the weather info: 9
- Start with a dream/waking up scene: 5
- Start with weather than immediately switch to someone waking up (didn’t think that was possible, did ya?): 2
- Referenced “this is my story” in the text: 4
Is anyone else surprise by how much death/illness/beating was going on? And the lack of fantasy stories? I was.
Also an interesting thing to note, an estimated 90% of the main characters in these stories were adults, not teens. So they were definitely thinking about things “older” then themselves, which doesn’t surprise me, but at the same time it kind of does.
Okay, now, I’ll go back to not being an agent anymore.
--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent
P.S. A2A loyal reader and commenter, Jennifer Hubbard just announced her first book deal. We are always excited when another author moves up to another stage in her writing career, so congrats Jennifer! We won’t hold it against you that you don’t watch The Hills.