Math, science, and – horror of horrors! – gym class. Oddly enough, these aren’t the kind of things that fictional characters learn. Even in books that take place largely in a school setting, most of the information they’re ‘learning’ about is skimmed over quickly, if at all (except for maybe at schools like Hogwarts or the Gallagher Academy…).
That’s not to say characters don’t learn, though. They tend to have their own kind of classes. Specialized classes, much more interesting than anything I see from school day to school day.
And so, in the spirit of the season, this post is the introduction to a short series of posts following the theme of ‘Back to School’.
A Character’s Class Schedule
History: Background Information
Happiness Appreciation: Enjoying the Little Things
Physical Education: Action & Movement
Detention: Characters Who Break the Rules
Considering my tendency to ramble, I’m thinking that dividing things up this way will help me to keep the posts shorter. So that this theme isn’t spread out across five weeks, I’ll be posting these smaller updates at somewhat shorter intervals, across a couple days instead of a week. ^^ Chances are, I’ll go back to Saturday updates after this series is over (and I might end it with another longer post on character development).
For now, to tide you over, a mini-list of some Extracurricular Activities that fictional characters do tend to study:
Sword Fighting, Archery, Combat, etc. – Whether they’ve been training their whole lives or pick up a sword for the first time on Page 1, lots of characters need to learn how to fight. One of my pet peeves is when they master this in a day, and are inexplicably able to beat people who’ve been studying their whole lives. I don't care if they're the Chosen One. It's a bit unrealistic, and a bit cliche (It's different if they have some backstory to support their expertise, as explained earlier in this post on Staying in Character).
Magic – Similar to the above. How many times have we seen characters struggling to master their magical abilities? It’s one of those oft-used plots/subplots that sometimes falls flat, but when done well can feel as fresh as the morning breeze.
Student Council – Leadership and authority, taking charge of a diverse crowd, and let’s not forget the wonder of one of my favorite subjects: Diplomacy! Politics can be tricky, and any character - from a Crown Prince in line for the throne to a Peasant-Turned-Princess caught up in a Cinderella Story - could use some time learning about social graces.
And, inspired by another blog post I read a while back that I neglected to get the link to (DX Fail) here are some enjoyable books that take place in a school setting. ^^
Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling – Do I even need to give a summary?
Gallagher Girls, by Ally Carter – Private school for girls who are training to become spies? :)
Looking For Alaska, by the hilarious John Green – I have not read this yet. But after seeing John’s vlogbrothers videos, I plan to.
Um, lots of others. XD Most YA books at least touch on school, or learning. It’s part of being a teen, after all.
Any other ‘School’ books come to mind? Any other subjects that you see characters learning regularly throughout their novels? Any that you’d like me to add to the queue? What do you think of this series of blog posts, and the length/interval situation? I’m still kind of finding my blogging style, so any feedback is welcome. :)