As my YA short story contest is drawing to a close, I thought I’d share some observations about the entries received. So here is a list, in no particular order:
- Most entries were contemporary YA.
- At least four dealt with identity issues surrounding homosexuality. I haven’t read much of this sort of story so I found them intriguing.
- Many stories about bullying. These often overlapped with the previous dot point.
- Many rejected entries had no plot and consisted largely of a character pining after something they had lost.
- A few entries had issues with tense. The story started in the past tense (“Tom went to the shops”) and suddenly switched to present (“He sees his best mate, Michael”).
- In the beginning, mostly before I posted a link to my grammar post, the largest grammar issue was badly punctuated dialogue.
- A number of interesting concepts were brought up, particularly from the fantasy and science fiction YA.
- A number of entries had no resolution as they were part of a thinly-veiled book.
- Some entries began with an in-depth description of the main character’s appearance and personality rather than something of interest.
- Many entries appeared to be first drafts with extremely rough prose.
- A number of entries were told entirely through narrative with very little action or dialogue. This is “telling” the entire story rather than “showing” it through character behaviour. These read like detailed summaries rather than stories.
- Some plots made no sense and seemed to consist entirely of random events, such as things suddenly coming to life with no explanation.
- A number of entries were not actually YA. Sometimes there were no teenagers in them.
- There were more rape stories submitted than I have read in my entire life.
- One entry disturbed me. That is all I wish to say on the matter.
I’m going to stop adding to the list before it gets too long to read. Despite the large number of negative points, I was glad I created this contest. I might write posts about some of the issues I found to help other writers (and myself) who see some of them mirrored in their own writing.