Questions to Ask When Creating Fictional Schools

    As a teen, school is both fortunately and unfortunately a part of my everyday life. Sometimes I love it, other times (read: mostly) I grumble and groan about it. So incorporating a school into a story doesn't exactly sound thrilling...but! The wonderful thing about imagination is being able to craft anything from it. 

   Whether your characters are in a public or private school, home-schooled, or being tutored (or in a fancy magical school) you can have fun with it! To help you out with creating a fictional school, I've compiled a list of questions to ask yourself:



1) Where is the school located? Is it in a busy, populated area, or isolated from the nearest town/city? Is it on a hill, and are floors staggered? Is it several stories high? How can students travel there?

2) How many classrooms are there? What do they look like? How are the desks arranged? Are there even desks, or do they use tables, or sit on the floor?

3) How are students arranged to sit? Are they allowed to choose their own seats, or do teachers decide their order? If the latter, how do teachers decide who sits where? Is it based on gender, age, friendship, or who won't get each other into trouble?

4) What kinds of tools are used to teach? Are there blackboards, whiteboards, or do they only use paper? Or do they use papyrus or clay? Do they use quills, pencils, pens, or styluses? Have they invented a writing system yet?

5) Who attends the school? Is it exclusive, or open to all? What are the requirements for attending it? Do students have to pass a kind of test in order to attend?



6) How many teachers and staff members are there? Are there any hierarchical rankings within staff? What are the different roles? Do the teachers need any form of qualification to teach? How are teachers selected?

7) Is there a school uniform? Does it differ for boys and girls? What do the students think about it? What does it look like? What does it feel and smell like?

8) What kinds of assessments are issued? Are they hand-in tasks, or all exams? A mix? How are these conducted? Are there any "special tests" that are considered a major school-ing life milestone? When are these taken? Are they life-threatening, or strictly pen and paper?

9) How many years/grades/levels are offered? Is it possible to repeat them if a student fails? 

10) What classes are offered? Are there any classes specific to the year/grade/level? Are any classes exclusive to certain students? Can students choose which ones they wish to take, or is it decided by the school?



11) What form of discipline is there? Are teachers allowed to hit their students? Or is discipline non-physical, such as detentions, discussing with parents, etc.?

12) When was the school built? Is it obvious that it's old/new? Have any shocking historical events occurred? Has it ever been set fire to or vandalized?

13) Is there a sense of community at the school? Do students and staff take pride in it, or do they simply not care? What is the school's reputation? Do parents strive to enroll their child in the school, or is it a last resort?

14) Are there any celebrations, traditions, or events specific to the school? How did this come about? Is it looked forward to, or dreaded? Do these involve sport? Are sports popular?

15) Is there any sense of hierarchy between groups of students or years/grades/levels? Are there clear divisions between groups of friends? Are there students who are isolated from the others, or those who move from group to group? Is it considered a betrayal to belong to multiple groups?



16) Who funds the school? The government? Fees parents pay? Does this ever influence what the students do, learn, or say at the school, or is it not a concern at all?

17) Who sets the school curriculum? Is there a city-wide, regional, national, or international standard they follow? Will this influence students' job opportunities? Or do teachers decide what to teach on their own?

18) What is the school's logo? What are its colours? What meaning do these carry? What is its mission/vission? 

19) Are there any rival schools? What is their rivalry based on: academics, sports, something else? Have students ever come to physical blows, or is it more verbal, or eyes made at each other? Something else?

20) Is it a boarding school or day-school only? If a boarding school, which teachers are in charge of the students out of classroom hours? What special rooms or activities are provided?

                      More in the Questions to Ask When series...

       Religion // Cities // Magic // History // Celebrations // Backstory // 
                                       Character Interview //




Have you ever written, or plan on writing, a fictional school? How is your writing going in the aftermath of NaNo? Any post suggestions for this series?
Good luck world-building, and have a brilliant day! <3

Comments

  1. I love this series, so helpful!

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  2. YAY!!! Another world-building dilemma solved!!!

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. Yayyyy!!!! I'm very glad, thank you Catherine! :)

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  3. Great post, as normal. I love this series. :)

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  4. I wouldn't think of half of these. Very useful!

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    1. I'm happy they're useful to you, Skye! Thanks! :)

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  5. This is a great list! Normally my characters tend to be just out of high school, but I've been toying with the idea of working on something where they're a little younger to shake things up a bit :) This a super thorough way of getting the creative juices flowing!

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    1. Thanks Rebeccah! Well, if you do end up going with your idea of younger characters, I hope this can be of use to you! Thank you for commenting! :D

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  6. I never even thought about these sorts of things....I normally don't have anything to do with schools (save for my Stars of Darkness trilogy, which is pretty far down on the waiting to complete list), but when I need this - voila! Here it is to help me get this stuff nailed. Thanks again, Melissa!

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    1. Aw that's great; I'm so glad it could be of help to you when you need it! xD You're very welcome! Thanks Julian! :)

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  7. Dude o.o You are such a genius. You are a brilliant human in ALL THE WAYS. *swoons over your awesomeness* I haven't written a school story before, but I have an idea for one (sort of--it's an idea with my cousin) and I'll definitely use this when we flesh it out!

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    1. Awwww you're too kind! <3 <3 *hugs* Oooh I am intrigued! You must tell me about this idea. ;) I hope it helps when you start to flesh it out! Thanks for commenting Hannah!

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  8. These are fantastic questions! I so love your "questions to ask" posts!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Aw, thank you so much Victoria! <3 I'm so glad you enjoy them!

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