And these children that you spit on

As they try to change their worlds

Are immune to your consultations

They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

David Bowie, Changes (1971)

The above quote was used to introduce the 1985 film The Breakfast Club, a defining work, and my personal favorite example of young adult fiction. Though I saw it decades after its release, the film’s themes and message were instantly recognizable, and I saw pieces of myself in each of the characters, namely the nerd, the criminal, and the basket case. (I also developed a major crush on Ally Sheedy. What they did to her character at the end was a crime, change my mind.)

Young Adult fiction puts teens and teen issues at the front and center. Though they sometimes take place in unusual settings (Hunger Games, Maze Runner,) the themes largely remain the same. The focus is on the characters’ coming of age and their transition to adulthood, during which they learn to work through their personal problems and take responsibility. A little wish fulfillment–the adolescent characters exercising a great deal of autonomy and changing the world around them for the better–goes a long way as well, but some of the most famous and influential YA novels (The Fault in Our Stars, The Outsiders) see the real world hit all too hard.

Whether you’re a young adult yourself or those days are long behind you, the challenge for the contest this month is to speak with a voice unique to the YA genre. Draw on your own experiences in the challenges of puberty, the trials of young friendship and love, the revolutionary spirit, and finding an identity. Coalesce that experience into a short story and communicate your own theme and message to which young adults everywhere can relate.


First Place

  • $100 (USD)*
  • Custom Cover Design
  • Permanent place on the Prose Opiate Homepage**
  • Author Spotlight Interview

    *All prize money delivered securely via PayPal. Winning contestants must have an active Paypal account to receive prize money.
    **Author retains all rights to their work. Prose Opiate will never retain or distribute your work without your permission.

Just for participating:
The Prose Opiate staff reads all contest entries and will respond to all contestants with a professionally edited manuscript and suggestions on how you can grow and improve as a writer! Keep practicing! There will be another contest next month!


  • Story must be less than 5,000 words
  • Must possess themes and tropes common to the YA genre
  • Authors of any age can enter
  • Mixing of genres is allowed
  • Only one entry per contestant
  • Must be submitted before December 31st, 2020
  • Must be an original work. Plagiarized works will not be considered.


Submit your manuscript via email to

Story can be submitted as an attached document or pasted into the body of the email.

Be sure to include your pen name and the official title of your manuscript.

You will receive emails from our staff containing your edited manuscript and correspondence coordinating the transference of prize materials, so use an email that you check regularly.



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All current participants and their stories are listed here. Check back regularly to see what stage of the review process your entry has reached!


J.M. Stephens

(Title of Manuscript)




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