Coming up with story ideas for a coming of age story can be easy if you think about the issues preteens and teens face. Moral dilemmas and everyday challenges can change a young person's life, and these issues can begin a story with a coming of age theme. Which ever idea you choose, the main character needs to go through a process as he works through the issues before himself to come out on the other side.
Young People and Parents
A common coming of age theme revolves around how a preteen or teen discovers something important about a parent. This could be a secret from her past, a health issue or a personal goal. Parents might admit to not being in love and wanting a divorce or deciding to change careers and move the family across the county.
Discovering Purpose in Life
A young person may reach a time in his life where he realizes a goal. This could be finding the determination to go to college against economic adversity or realizing he wants to do something that helps people. A love of flying can make him realize he wants to be a pilot. A knack for cooking can germinate into wanting to open his own restaurant or bakery.
The main character in the novel discovers there are things she cannot change and realizes she can only change herself. The young person may have a family life that is less than perfect and, after some effort, realizes she cannot fix it. Perhaps a friend has a drug problem the main character is trying to help with, only to discover the friend has overdosed. There is someone who tells the teen about his problems, later the teen discovers no matter what she does, her friend doesn't want to cure the problems.
Something happens that changes the young person's life -- move to a new state, parent gets sick, grandparents move into the family home or someone close to them dies. Life-changing events can be big or small, but it is how the teen is affected and faces the change that brings the story together.
Accepting Who You Are
A young person comes to terms with being different from the rest of his family or friends. He goes through the trials of facing why he is different -- physical, mental or personal -- and comes out at the end of the story as accepting who he is. This theme could reflect gender issues, relationships or decisions on what he wants out of life. Not following in his father's footsteps and striking out on his own life plan or moving away from the family's beliefs.