- An Awkward Sexual Encounter
- Drinking or Drug Use
- An Asshole Male Friend
- A Fight
1. The protagonist is a young male (duh).
2. To add spice, this story could take place in, say, the 50s or the 80s, or, you know, whenever you, the male writer, were your protagonist's age.
3. To add additional spice, the protagonist could be Jewish (if the writer is Jewish) or Catholic (if the writer is Catholic), or...no, never mind, just pick one of those two.
4. The fight must be a physical fight (i.e. fist fight). Weak, boring verbal arguments do not count.
5. The drinking/drug use could fall anywhere on a scale of Boone's Farm to Heroin, depending on how gritty you want to be.
6. The protagonist may be an asshole, but the Asshole Male Friend must be more of an asshole.
7. For economy, you may combine these elements. It's always a great choice to have the protagonist and the Asshole Friend get drunk/high together and then get in a fist fight, preferably because one of them had an Awkward Sexual Encounter with the other's girlfriend or mom or something.
8. If the writer is gay, the Awkward Sexual Encounter can occur between the protagonist and the Asshole Friend. This has the added bonus of being extra-gritty AND allowing the writer not to include any female characters whatsoever.
You can write several versions and make something of a career of Gritty, Coming-Of-Age short stories. But if you get ambitious, feel free to just repeat the elements over and over again, and you've got yourself a Gritty, Coming-Of-Age Novel. But you'll probably need to add a death somewhere in there, too.