A common stage of a hero’s journey is training. Sometimes this is on the road experience in a ‘hard knocks’ type of thing. Other times they get some training beforehand, which works for late teen/early twenty characters that are heading in that direction. Yet, there are many stories where school and training takes either all or a big chunk of the overall tale. Harry Potter and the X-Men are characters that ‘operate’ out of a school. Luke Skywalker spent a good portion of Empire Strikes Back with Yoda. Ranger’s Apprentice is rather self-explanatory in the title of the series.
Way back when I tried to publish Beginning of a Hero, I went with an on-demand publisher and bought a package that included a professional review. I chose not to use it because the reviewer went on entirely about how I should have thrown away the adventure plot and focused nearly entirely on Luke Callindor as a student. Even though without the main adventure, he’d have no reason to be there. Anyway, this made me think a lot about how school settings are so common. Harry Potter, Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Men, Rosario Vampire, Ranger’s Apprentice, Smallville, and I could keep going with stories that take place in a school. (No idea why there were 3 vampire series in there or why I mentioned the sparkly one.) Now I’m going to make posts all week about this (stop groaning), but I want to know what people think of the school setting in fiction.
Personally, I think it’s popular because schools are their own pocket society. You have cliques, clubs, and a vast variety of personalities under one structure. There is a lot of versatility in using a school setting. You can have the hero rise to conquer bullies or a power-mad teacher or a dark secrets. Possibilities are endless because you can take tales from a non-school setting and fit them into it. Also, there’s an expectation of character growth and evolution because we all remember developing in school. It’s unavoidable that we go in one way and come out changed. The ‘coming of age’ and ‘child to adulthood’ tales are always popular because of this relatability.
So, what does everyone think of books that take place in schools?