1. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    What are some reasons a bad guy would want to make the good guy think his house is haunted

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Laurin Kelly, Sep 7, 2016.

    So I'm the worst at coming up with the mystery/thriller plot elements, but for my soon to be WIP I want to inject some of that to push my boundaries a little. I write romance, so the true story is about two people falling in love and making lots of nookie - but I still want the subplot to make sense.

    In a nutshell, MC #1 buys an old crappy house in an upcoming neighborhood order to flip it (i.e., fix it up and sell for a large profit). After a few disturbing incidents, he starts to think that the house might be haunted. For story purposes I want the haunting to be faked, but I can't seem to come up with a non-corny reason you'd try to gaslight someone into believing their house is haunted other than the tired old "buried treasure in the walls" trope.

    This is for the most part a lighthearted meet-cute romance, so I don't want the underlying reason to be too dark (the bad guy buried dead babies and doesn't want them to be discovered - considered and rejected), but enough that there's some element of danger in the final confrontation.

    Any suggestions are cheerfully welcomed!
     
  2. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Maybe he wanted to buy the house for himself and is resentful that the other guy's offer was accepted first. He may be trying to drive the buyer away so that he can buy it for himself - either to fix it up himself or to tear it down to expand his own property. He may be trying to drive the value of the property down. In real estate, there is an absurd "haunted" clause that allows a buyer to back out of a sale if he legitimately believes a property to be haunted. I sold a house once where, a few months later, my buyer tried to sue me because I failed to inform him the house was haunted. I told him I never believed it was; when I lived there, there were no incidents. His attorney advised him to drop it, he didn't have much of a case. So your antagonist could be trying to push him into something like this, so he can have the house for his own purposes. Could be something as simple as money. Not all that dark.
     
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  3. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    This might be a bit obvious, but if you're looking for a reason to fake a haunting, watch literally any episode of Scooby-doo.
     
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  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    As a twist on @Lyrical's idea, maybe the bad guy just wants to house because it's where he grew up and he wants to live there again, maybe raise his own family there. Depends on how villainous you want him to be. Or maybe he specifically wants to build up the idea of this house being haunted to attract ghost hunters and tourists and such.
     
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  5. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Do you actually have a bad guy character in mind yet?

    My first thought was that the neighbours might be sick of yuppies moving in, turning modest houses into McMansions that ruin the neighbourhood for its original inhabitants, then clearing out with their money --> stage a haunting. My second thought was that, if you went with this, you'd have your work cut out convincing me that your good guy isn't the bad guy...

    Could someone just be doing it for laughs, like an over-the-top practical joke? Or if they can take video, maybe they're broadcasting it online as some kind of Paranormal Activity meets Candid Camera thing, or a social experiment, that they're generating advertising income from (which could be a lead as to how the mystery unravels)?

    Or, pending the type of haunting you have in mind and tone of the piece, could it be an accidental 'haunting'? I'm sure I've driven away several new neighbours with my shower-singing...
     
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  6. EditorM
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    EditorM New Member

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    Could it be light revenge for something that the good guy has inadvertently done to the bad guy?
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with @Sifunkle 's idea of a YouTube hit, or an accidental haunting...how about it just being a trapped bird/raccoon...or local kids who've used it as their den/clubhouse for midnight feasts for as long as the house has been vacant, which is years.
     
  8. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    I would suggest the guy faking the haunting having an infatuation with the owners GF. He is trying to create doubts in her mind about her boyfriends sanity.
     
  9. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    Thanks for all the ideas! Some I'd never thought of before, and others I've considered but discarded - but am now revisiting them or at least thinking about them in a new way. Please feel free to keep them coming; I have a feeling what I will wind up with might be a combination of motivations.

    This suggestion wouldn't fly because the owner is a gay man, and he doesn't have a boyfriend when he starts feeling like his house is haunted. He and his neighbor fall in love while trying to get to the bottom of the whole ghost thing.

    There is actually a "ghostbuster" like character like this in the story, but he's not actually the villain - at least, not the main one who cooks up the scheme in the first place. I don't have a super clear vision of the villain yet; I think his motivation will help me develop his character.
     
  10. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    Okay, that was impossible to know from what you had posted.

    Although it has already been done to great effect, I cannot help thinking about the film The Others where the family think the house is haunted but it turns out they are the ones haunting it.
     
  11. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    I just meant that the other suggestions were doable within the constraints of the main romance plotline I've already got planned. I guess I thought that mentioning that the main story is about two people falling in love as well as a "lighthearted meet-cute romance" would suggest my MC starts off unattached, but I can see how that might not have been obvious. Unless you meant the fact that he's gay? That was really just me realizing that not everyone here knows I write m/m romance exclusively, and clarifying that detail for future suggestions.

    The spin on The Others is intriguing and I'd probably read the hell out of it. When it comes to my own writing though, I pretty much stick to simple contemporary romance without any paranormal or fantasy elements.

    ETA: Decided to stick my writing genre in my signature. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016
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  12. Nicola
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    Nicola Member

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    Wow that sounds like a great plot and I like your writing style :)

    Have you considered a rom-com element to this subplot? readers might expect comedic relief between the passionate scenes.

    Faking something on that scale needs a strong motive, the faker would need to be ingenious, know every nook and cranny of the house and be a natural 'puppet master'.

    As for haunting effects think opposite of tacky Halloween stuff and more Victorian era: blood stains, browned with age, poltergeist activity or people (children?) seen from the corner of the eye.

    Also there'slots of ways to actually torment someone besides ghosts and ghouls like creating a myth/curse about the house that the other person starts to believe to the point they see/hear things which aren't there.
     

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