Creative Writing Ideas
Cool Story Ideas
for Mid-Teens

Here are our top creative writing ideas culled from studies of what mid-teens (15 to 17 years) want to read, together with examples of popular books to help you find out what appeals most to your target audience:

Creative Writing Ideas: Growing-Up and Family Issues

Mid-teens identify with protagonists who face problems they themselves are going through. For example, family relationship issues, as in Valerie Hobbs' Tender, Paula Fox's The Moonlight Man, and Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons (Newbery Medal); self-image and self-esteem, as in KL Going's Fat Kid Rules the World; peer pressure, gangs and bullying, as in Sharon Draper's The Battle of Jericho; physical and emotional abuse, as in Sarah Dessen's Dreamland.

These readers are also beginning to explore themes like love, forgiveness, faith and personal responsibility as they grow towards maturity, and enjoy books like Paula Fox's One-Eyed Cat (Newbery Honor); Markus Zusak's The Book Thief; Walter Dean Myers' Monster and Scorpion (Newbery Honor); Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever; and Louis Sachar's Holes (Newbery Medal).

More excellent stuff: Wilson Rawl's Where the Red Fern Grows, a story that pulsates with the love of family, nature and God; Gail Carson Levine's thought-provoking story, The Wish; Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light; Walter Dean Myers' 3 titles: Slam!; Hoops; Somewhere in the Darkness; and Irene Hunt's Up a Road Slowly.

Creative Writing Ideas: Choices, Transitions and Social Issues

This is a time of choices and transitions: teens are searching for their own identity and learning to make choices based on personal convictions and values. Good books that address these issues are in demand: for example, Avi's Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel (Newbery Honor), and Melody Carlson's Diary of a Teenage Girl series.

Mid-teens are also interested in social issues, and look to books like Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye; Sharon Draper's Forged by Fire and Darkness Before Dawn; Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (Pulitzer Prize); Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic favorite, Uncle Tom's Cabin; and Mildred Taylor's 6 titles: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Newbery Medal); Let the Circle Be Unbroken; The Well: David's Story; Mississippi Bridge; Song of the Trees; and The Road to Memphis.

Creative Writing Ideas: Family stories

Mid-teens long for the warmth, love and security of close family ties, and look for books that address these needs - intimate family stories like Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and Jo's Boys; Madeleine L'Engle's Austin family series; Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle (warm, zany family members with many individual quirks); and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The Yearling (Pulitzer Prize).

Look out also for Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming; Dicey's Song (Newbery Medal); Come a Stranger; A Solitary Blue (Newbery Honor); Sons from Afar; Seventeen Against the Dealer. A recurring theme in Voigt's books is that love - especially family love - is so important, it makes all the difference in every situation.

Creative Writing Ideas: Adventure, Suspense and Mystery

Survival adventure stories are also popular with this age group. Gary Paulsen's books resonate with his love for nature, and his gripping tales of survival in the wilderness have earned him a huge audience of teen readers; look out especially for Hatchet (Newbery Honor), Dogsong (Newbery Honor), Tracker and The Island.

Great ideas also abound in adventure-and-suspense stories like Jack Schaefer's Shane (an exciting tale of the wild west); Ian Serraillier's The Silver Sword (a moving story of faith and courage in the face of great danger); Mark Twain's long-loved classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; and Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind series (end-time stories based on the Bible's Book of Revelation).

Check out adventure-and-mystery books too: Lynne Reid Banks' Melusine: A Mystery, and Frank Peretti's The Veritas Project: Hangman's Curse. Detective mysteries are another teen favorite: look for Ellis Peters' A Morbid Taste for Bones and Sanctuary Sparrow; Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time; and Dorothy Sayers' Strong Poison; Gaudy Night; and Nine Tailors.

Creative Writing Ideas: Fantasy Adventure

Teens love and need fantasy adventure stories; these books provide an escape, a temporary respite, from the pressures of the adolescent world. At the same time, the trials and triumphs of fictional characters give hope to teens and inspire them to cope with their own real-life problems.

The best fantasy adventures lift readers into the magical world of the author's imagination, and give teens a fresh perspective that helps them deal with challenges in their own lives: Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (Newbery Award); A Wind in the Door; A Swiftly Tilting Planet; Many Waters; Ursula LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea; The Tombs of Atuan; The Farthest Shore; JRR Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham; The Hobbit; and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring; The Two Towers; The Return of the King.

Look out for these too: Brian Jacques' Redwall and sequels: Mossflower; Mattimeo; Mariel of Redwall; Pearls of Lutra; The Legend of Luke; Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief (Newbery Honor); Kenneth Oppel's Silverwing; Sunwing; Firewing; Susan Cooper's Over Seas, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising; The Grey King; Silver on the Tree; The Boggart.

Creative Writing Ideas: Friends and School Life

Books that focus on school life and friendship issues are also sought after. Check out Melody Carlson's Diary of a Teenage Girl (explores what it means to be a real friend, to be true to God, oneself and one's friends, instead of following the crowd) and Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl (high school setting, deals with relationships and peer pressure).

For light reading, books like Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley University series, and Laura Peyton Roberts' Clearwater Crossing series are popular; these stories revolve round school as well as family life, friendships, and boy-girl relationships.

Creative Writing Ideas: Romance Stories

Romances sell well too, especially contemporary romances like Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby; Someone Like You; Keeping the Moon; and The Truth About Forever; also Ann Brashare's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

In fact, many stories - family, school, adventure, mystery or fantasy - include some romantic interest; for example, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women; Laura Peyton Roberts' Clearwater Crossing series; Cynthia Voigt's Dicey's Song and A Solitary Blue; Dorothy Sayers' Strong Poison and Gaudy Night.

Historical romances offer another niche market worth exploring: they don't get out-date, and the most well-written continue to enjoy steady sales from generations of readers. Think of Georgette Heyer's Regency romances such as Black Sheep; Regency Buck; These Old Shades; Arabella; and The Unknown Ajax; and Janette Oke's Love Comes softly, Love's Enduring Promise; Love's Long Journey; and many others.

Creative Writing Ideas: Historical Fiction

Delve into history books for great story ideas, mix facts with fiction to create memorable stories. Take your cue from books like Anne De Vries' Journey through the Night; Paula Fox's The Slave Dancer; and Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth, and Song for a Dark Queen. Look out also for Lloyd C Douglas' classic, The Robe.

Be prepared to do painstaking research; a knack for bringing past events to life is also essential: see, for example, Anne Rinaldi's The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre; A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials; and The Second Bend in the River (a story of the real Rebecca Galloway and the Indian Chief Tecumseh); Gloria Whelan's Miranda's Last Stand; and Katherine Paterson's The Master Puppeteer, Lyddie, and Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom.


To find out worldwide sales figures for the top-selling books in each of the above categories, go to Creative Writing Resources: Cool Books for Mid-Teens

Writing for younger readers? Visit Exciting Story Ideas for Early Teens and Creative Writing Ideas: Hot Favorites for Kids.

Writing for older teens? Visit Marvelous Story Ideas for Mature teens.

For creative writing ideas to help you write stories in a way that gets teens reading, visit How to Write Stories Kids and Teens Want to Read.

For a step-by-step guide to story writing, visit How to Write a Book: Creative Story Writing Tips that Work!

Return to Creative Writing Ideas: Cool Stories for Pre-Teens and Teens.

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