How to Write a Short Story About School Life: An Example


When you write a story about school or school life, you should think it from the end. A short story is different from a novel which sometimes finds its own way when writing it; you need a plan and a structure that is almost complete, if you want to make it a good story.

Take the example of one important action (for a short story, this is sufficient!): a boy of 12 years has been thrown out of his school. The question is, how to make an exciting and understandable story that ends with this negative event.

This is the moment to construct a flow of action leading to his exclusion. Of course, it means that you think the story from its ending, but you write it from the beginning. Use your experience and your fantasy to find reasons or motives why such a young boy might be excluded from his school.

You know some central elements and patterns that can lead to it: very bad behaviour, being often absent without any excuse, bad performance and grades, destroying something, and other grave problems. You need to look for really serious aspects, otherwise the story cannot be logical or understandable to the readers.

Imagine a class conference with all the teachers and the director where they talked only about this one boy. What did they say there? How did the teachers judge him? Were they looking for hints towards an improvement? Was it a question of sympathy? What was the form teacher’s opinion? Was there a teacher who stated that it was not right to send him home forever?

Try to search for other facts in his situation, his life. Normally, the teachers will be right when they find that the behaviour of a pupil or a student is intolerable. But the task of an author is, I believe, to look at the things behind the visible action. What are his conditions at home like? Has he got friends who play with him, help him? How do his siblings act towards him?

Maybe you can find some serious problems in the family or in his daily life beyond school. Maybe his father is an alcoholic, his mother is drug addicted – or his best friend was killed in a car crash? Maybe he is very unhappy with a problem he cannot solve on his own?

Managing this background question, an author of a short story about school can help to explain problematic behaviour and bad performance of a student, without simply putting the blame on someone. So the focus can be set on the solving of a problem – even if the story only makes the problem visible.

If these relevant aspects are part of your plan, you can write the story, no matter where you begin: with the exclusion of the boy, with the class conference or with the decisive reason of his misery. You can write a successful story now!


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