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  1. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    Any way to make High School Different?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Alex_Hartman, Nov 26, 2008.

    I realize that most people won't be able to answer this question because my audience would be middle/high school kids. If you were going to read a book about some high school girl and whatever conflicts happened to her at school, what would you hope to read?

    High School is what I know best, I'm there for seven hours every day, but all of the conflicts are the same, with few spots for a twist.

    There is some nerdy girl spontaneously becoming popular and stealing a cheer leader's boyfriend. Or a group of girls gone wrong after too many pointless fights (been there too many times). There are issues with friends, teachers, ex-friends, popular people, every one the MC could possibly hate, guys (HUGE issue), and not much more.

    At least that explains why it can be such a painful place when the same things are happening all of the time...it gets boring, not just in the books, but in real life, too.

    I know that everything has been done at one point or another, that doesn't help. What would be something that you would love to see? (Keeping it realistic fiction, please)
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Every plot/theme/storyline I could suggest has been done already, as you said. You can't make high school different. It is as boring as we know it to be. The situations though...those are endless. I'm just looking for a good story. I love stories of redemption. It's got to be a story that grabs hold of your imagination, though. So I'll throw your question back at you: what would YOU hope to read?
     
  3. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps try an often overlooked character, the caretaker, groundskeeper, principal, security guard, dinnerlady (or US equivalent - catering staff?)? Write their POV of events, or rather have the school as a backdrop for some external events? If you were serious you could even interview one of these people at your own high school to get the truth / their opinions first hand.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps you need to look beyond the teen bestsellers to find stories that aren't all too much like each other. Look at the independent publishers. If you get Canadian books, look at Orca Books or Tundra.
     
  5. jwilder
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    jwilder Member

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    What about familial battles? The perfect brother - athletic, smart, cute, popular vs the nerdy, dorky, clutzy, frazzled sister? Something happens that interjects one into the other's "territory", involving friends and teachers, etc etc.

    Or, the younger sibling following in the shadowed footsteps of the older sibling (I went through this in high school) - always known as "Dave's little brother" instead of his real name, and trying to live up to the expectations of a family pressuring the younger sibling to be great, trying to get into the "popular" crowd to be like his older brother, get the good grades, whatever. Or reverse it and make the older sibling the not-so-smart, clumsy, unpopular one with the younger, fabulous, perfect sibling. HUGE potentialfor jealousy, rivalry, and conflict, and when you add friends into the mix - who will of course take sides with their respective sibling friend - there's tons of potential for plots. Family is such a huge part of high school (although most high schoolers don't realize it at the time), and it has such a dynamic effect on how one behaves, socializes, and even thinks.
     
  6. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    It could still be realistic, but how about a new high school campus that opened up?
    Their curriculum new, they want to teach children things that they may never know if they were in regular public school.
    This could be a school with dorms.
    But maybe what the parents don't or the students, is the curriculum has subliminal messages in it and it manipulates the children's brains someway.
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    If you think about it High school is just a backdrop. You don't have to write about typical subjects.

    If I could give an example. And this story could be centered around high school or another place, but if it takes place in high school it will have a unique feel.

    New girl from a big city moves to a small town. Everyone knows everyone. One of the most popular groups of kids are brothers, sisters, and cousins. Big city girl, Jill gets involved with this popular crowd. At a party or something she sees brother and sister kissing. It turns out they are a very strange group. Not just incest but they are into drugs and maybe some really strange stuff, like cult activity or something.

    Jill has to deal with normal high school drama and all the bizarre drama that stems from the new crowd she got involved with. There are so many ways you could take Jill’s story. Shoot, I really like this idea.
     
  8. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    That would be so intense!
     
  9. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another way to avoid the usual stereotypes might be to throw in people from other cultures.

    For example, the main character meets a guy whose daily problems revolve around a family feud. Or a girl whose main concern isn't boyfriends, it's being forced to marry someone from her home country.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe she could discover that she's actually part elf and that her parents secreted her away to the nondescript little town in middle(fill in the country.) One day, during a fight with one of the evil popular girls (the popular girl was in a bad mood due to a bad nose job) it is pointed out that her ears are rather pointy. She runs home in tears and her adoptive mother (she's always known she adopted 'cause her parents are all about honesty) sits her down and tells her the story of how she came to be with them. So begins a whirlwind journey across the globe to find her elvin roots. :D
     
  11. Opheilia
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    What about popular pretty cheerleader type actually going on journey of self discovery (its usually the loner geeky type) and learning to be more academic, less bitchy, stop looking down on people.

    All to often you can be pretty and thick, bitchy and popular or nerdy, geeky and a loner that triumphs in the end.

    Why don't you start off which a protagonist thats not particularly liked, but your stereotypical pretty, stuck up type and take them on a journey where they learn how to be more humanistic, kind and considerate. The reader could then go on a journey with them and learn to like them as the story unfolds. Granted its hard to engage a reader into a story, where the main characher is hard to relate to and not particularly liked - but its not impossible, and has been done. This should give you an unusual slant on things.

    Just a thought.
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe it's just because I live in a city where half the people were born somewhere else, but how does doing that make it different?
     
  13. othman
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    othman Member

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    well, if you want to keep it in high school and not quite so special as architectus's great idea, you can have loads of things that could happen.

    Depending on where it is set (I mean part of world not highschool) you could have things like bomb scares, drive-bys, hotel hostage situations, anything to help set the scene about what sort of city it is or isn't and could use the news (on t.v.) to help you. It could even show what sort of person the main character is.
     
  14. Opheilia
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  15. jwilder
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    Hey, you went to a Chicago public school, didn't you?! ;)
     
  16. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    Maybe not drive-bys or hotel hostage situations, but bomb threats happen all of the time (because people really don't want to go to school sometimes). Last year, three different school had bomb threats within two days.
     
  17. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sounds sort of like what was happening in my high school one year. It wasn't bomb threats, but the fire alarm was going off all the time.
     
  18. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    In the third week of school some kid pulled the fire alarm...we thought we were really close to going home, but never did. Although, it did get me out of math. =D
     
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    Opheilia Member

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    Gosh the worst scandal at my school was the sixth former (17 years olds) going on a protest march because they wanted a bigger car park!
     
  20. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    One school where I worked, a student thought a teacher had a down on him. He stuffed a rag down the exhaust of the teacher's car and set light to it. He only meant to do a bit of damage, but the car exploded and set fire to the tree it was parked under. This spread to the new covered sports complex which was badly damaged. It meant that the basketball team weren't able to train without a trip across town, and contributed to the school losing the championship that year. The student? He was expelled after his father paid a lot of money for repairs, and also to get mention of this expunged from the student's discipline record.
     
  21. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    Crap. I don't think we've had anything like that...that I know of...
     
  22. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most of my older teaching colleagues have loads of stories about the places where they worked, each more hair-raising than the last...
     
  23. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    We never had anything like a car blowing up, but we had a car drive into the cafeteria.
     
  24. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    That would not be fun...I like our cafeteria...
     

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