1. Owen_Morgan
    Offline

    Owen_Morgan New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1

    what could trap my characters in a school?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Owen_Morgan, Aug 8, 2016.

    So, I'm working on a story where the plot is roughly this:

    A group of high schoolers are on a camping trip on Halloween with their teacher, and as part of a spooky story they take part in an old folk tale ritual of placing stones marked with blood into a fire. If any stones were missing by morning it is said that the owner would die before the following Halloween. Every stone is missing aside from two, one of which belongs to my main character (this is revealed at the end to avoid lack of tension).

    The next year the children are either tricked or are trapped by events outside their control in the school the night of Halloween. The teacher turns out to be an ancient being (probably a witch) that feeds once every 100 years on the young. They are stalked and killed one by one and have to fight back against something far too powerful that seems to know their every move.

    It'll be pulpy and fast paced, so I want the premise to be as straightforward and believable as possible.

    My problem is, I can't decide how they should be made to stay at the school that would be believable. I'd like it to be dramatic like a snow-in or extreme weather (it's set in Wales) but snow doesn't make much sense in October unless it's the Witch's doing. The other idea was to have the teacher have a Halloween themed midnight party held in school that only her favourite class is invited too, but this seems rather too mundane (possibly just me being too critical)

    Are there any other ways that you can think of to trap a specific group of kids in a school overnight on Halloween with their monstrous and murderous teacher?

    Help!
     
  2. ddavidv
    Offline

    ddavidv Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    239
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Hurricane? I don't know if you get those in Wales.
     
  3. Simpson17866
    Offline

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,694
    Likes Received:
    1,244
    I like the supernatural-snowstorm angle. More clear that the villain is doing something to keep the victims trapped rather than an accident of probability just happening to line up with the villain's existing timeframe.
     
  4. Lea`Brooks
    Offline

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,714
    Location:
    Virginia, United States
    Could you do the overnight stay as like a reward? For example, a student gets a perfect score on a very important test, so they get an invitation to the party. But the student didn't really get a perfect score -- she just marked all his answers as correct so he would be invited to the party. That way, it looks like it's reward based, but she's secretly working to choose who she wants.

    So the one student could have gotten to the party by getting a perfect score on the test. Later, while the students are at the party, they could be discussing how they got there. And when the student reveals he got the perfect score, another one could say, "Aww, man! I only missed the question about [insert question]. I put [insert answer]." Then the original student could say, "Why'd you get that wrong then? That's what I put, and I got it right." Make sense? :p

    Just a thought.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  5. Sparky19
    Offline

    Sparky19 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2016
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    California
    Could they plausibly be up to no good? Like they begin to dare one another, sure that the others don't have the guts to stay there over night or break in during the night? The teacher gets wind of their plan is there waiting for them and then they get effectively trapped in. That way you already have them suspicious/nervous when they enter (don't want to get busted) but then obviously have it escalate when they find out their real peril. Good luck!
     
  6. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,201
    Likes Received:
    1,786
    Location:
    Australia
    Kids break into schools. Hell, kids from a rival school once broke into mine and set one of the demount-able buildings on fire.

    So maybe it's rival school kids in to steal a trophy or something as a prank, and at first they think they are being stalked by a guard or teacher. And then trap them with black magic and bingo. (don't trap them with bingo...)
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  7. Owen_Morgan
    Offline

    Owen_Morgan New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    It's a tricky one. There are various plot points that relate to it being her class that's trapped, which makes the rival schools thing difficult.

    One of the plot points is that my MC is too scared to prick her finger to mark her stone with a bit of blood, so her friend uses her blood to mark both of their stones to avoid embarrassment.

    As the witch stalks the kids she is unable to 'track' my MC like she can with the rest, effectively giving my scaredy-cat MC the upper hand. It's implied that she tracks them using the blood they willingly gave on the stones, although never outright stated.

    I'm leaning towards a freak weather incident, but I don't want to overstate my villains powers too much. Maybe I could have the teacher barged in on while she is preparing some kind of ritual prior to the party, and imply that the storm was created that way.
     
  8. Sapphire at Dawn
    Offline

    Sapphire at Dawn Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    54
    Location:
    UK
    Maybe the teacher/witch lures them there using some kind of magic so they feel an unexplainable urge to go there? As the MC didn't give her blood, she's immune from this but goes along anyway because she doesn't want to feel left out. Or perhaps there's something at the school that the kids want to explore while nobody else is there. Could the school have an old building? Part of my old school was formerly a Georgian house and the stable blocks were the language department. The house part had fireplaces in the classrooms and the old servant's bell system was still in place. There's lots of folklore stories you could use to draw them there (things concealed in fireplaces, beneath floorboards etc) if they're interested in old stories.
     
    Owen_Morgan likes this.
  9. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,583
    Likes Received:
    5,068
    What subject does she teach? If it's some sort of photography/media course, she could set up a project on "Public Spaces After Dark" or something and treat it like a field trip. If it's a biology class, maybe they've been working really hard to hatch some eggs or do some other project and she says that the hatching or whatever is going to happen that night, so they all get permission to stay?

    If it's drama or English, maybe they've been doing a unit on horror and the "final project" (ooh, that could be the title of the story!) is to share their dramatic efforts or writing or whatever in a suitably spooky environment.
     
    Lifeline, Owen_Morgan and Lea`Brooks like this.
  10. Owen_Morgan
    Offline

    Owen_Morgan New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    That's a good idea, I didn't think to tie it to her subject. I like the idea of the school at night being used as a photography final assignment or something. Also explains why they would be in the woods with their class the year before, maybe as an experiment with minimal lighting (using the moon etc)

    Also, the working title is 'Pupils', with a double meaning because the witch would be very... Uh, interested in eyes. So photography being an eye based subject also ties in with that.
     
    Lea`Brooks likes this.
  11. Kallisto
    Offline

    Kallisto Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    87
    Have you possibly considered no actual explanation? At least not one that's in the realm of logical.

    In German, American and English folklore, it's not uncommon for witches to "steal away" children, often as payment for a favor. So having the kids being at the school after closing for absolutely no logical reason, isn't outside the realm of possibility as far as witches go. In American folklore, most of which stemmed from the infamous Salem witch trials, they would allegedly appear in dreams and force the helpless individuals to do their bidding. Since they were very closely linked to their association with Satan, the individual had to often do something to invite a witch. Once you invite them, bad things happen. Your ritual with the stones? That's a pretty good way to invite evil I'll say. And even though your character is safe from death, doesn't mean Satan will let them off the hook, because he's just that kind of douche bag. He'll have plans for all of them. They all did the ritual, after all.

    So if you really wanted to go the supernatural route, you could have the main character just feel like she needs to "go somewhere" and then sees her friends wandering to the school in a trance. Or waking up in the school with little explanation as to why they're there.

    When you deal with the supernatural, you don't have to have logical reasons why things happen. That's part of the creep factor. Things don't make sense. The reader has to figure it out. That's the difference between a pointless slasher and a well thoughout suspenseful story.

    But then again, I'm thinking more along the lines of Edgar Allen Poe and Turn of the Screw.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  12. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,591
    Likes Received:
    78
    This might not work for your story, but what if the Witch, had guards at every door, preventing the kids from leaving?
     
  13. mrieder79
    Offline

    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    280
    Location:
    Uyumbe
    A tricky witch would give the children a reasong to want to stay at school that night. Perhaps they will be tricked into thinking that staying at the school is the only way to avoid the curse of the stones in the fire.
     
  14. CrusherBrooks
    Offline

    CrusherBrooks Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    69
    Your school has been surrounded by murderous baboons. They took the stones out of the died fire and smelled the blood, now they'll hunt you down if you try to run. Of course they can do that, they're the witches baboons, don't you know about Oz? Packs of murderous baboons are an integral part of any story worth reading. :cool:
    Or, you know, if there's a witch in charge who has your blood on a stone, perhaps she bound you to it. Some sorta voodoo. You can't go too far away from the stone in the first place, so you have to confront the witch for it at some point. I don't know the rest of the premise.
     
  15. big soft moose
    Online

    big soft moose Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    1,298
    Likes Received:
    911
    seems reasonable to me, though they don't actually have baboons in wales ... may be crazed rabid sheep ?
     
  16. theoriginalmonsterman
    Offline

    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    [REDACTED]
    What is this? Corpse Party? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    In all honesty though I think you've lost the believable aspect of the story when you made the main villain a witch.

    I think having some sort of school dance is a fine way to get the students to stay at the school. I think the issue with that though is that it needs to include the full school to make that make sense.

    I'm assuming this is a high school we're talking about since I don't think students in middle school or elementary school would be allowed to go to such an event XD the idea of them looking to cause trouble in the school could work as well, but if you want to make them likeable characters then that may not work out so well.

    I would try to avoid magic with trapping the students since that comes off as a bit too easy. Maybe the witch tricks one of the friends into going to the school late, and uses that to lure the others in. I don't know if that could work well with what you're going for though.
     
  17. Owen_Morgan
    Offline

    Owen_Morgan New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    I don't really see how the villain being an ancient being (the word Witch will probably not be used in the actual book but it's the easiest shorthand for he kind of thing she is) would lose believability in a fictional horror story?

    It actually helps ground the story as Wales has an extremely rich history of witchcraft and paganism.

    She won't be a witch like Harry Potter, firing magic bolts and flying around on a broomstick, she'll be using dark magic to prolong her life and give her mild telepathic abilities. Nothing too crazy.
     
  18. newjerseyrunner
    Offline

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    281
    Likes Received:
    208
    I think it'd be very hard to trap someone in a school. Schools are designed specifically to be able to move large numbers of people very quickly in case of emergencies.

    I would trap them in a specific part of it. The high school I went to was build during the cold war and was the town's fallout shelter, which I know is fairly common. I'm sure that Wales would have made similar preparations for a war with the USSR. While each first floor class room had windows that could easily be crawled out of, the gym was in the basement and reinforced for nuclear war / tornadoes / hurricanes / bomb threats...
     
  19. big soft moose
    Online

    big soft moose Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    1,298
    Likes Received:
    911
    British schools didn't really do the whole 'fall out shelter' thing

    With regard to trapping them - another option is to trap them in the valley say by flooding that's washed out the only bridge out , and have them go to the school for sanctuary
     
  20. Wexeldorf
    Offline

    Wexeldorf Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    Couldn't you just use a mundane tool such as they all get put in detention (rightly or wrongly) and have the janitor accidentally lock the school up with them in? It could help to delay the supernatural aspect of the story a bit longer?
     
  21. Francis de Aguilar
    Offline

    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2016
    Messages:
    323
    Likes Received:
    217
    Location:
    Devon UK
    The only road leading from the school has got a sink hole opened up in it because of a disused mine and fracking.
     
  22. Oswiecenie
    Offline

    Oswiecenie Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Hy-Brazil
    I really like the severe weather idea. It could work great for the atmosphere of the story and, depending on the severity of the event, may expand the action beyond the horror-stuff. For example, besides the murderous witch-teacher, your characters would also have to deal with flooding or damaging winds cutting the power.

    Not hurricanes in the classic sense, but extratropical cyclones, which can come pretty close. Here is one example:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Storm_of_1987
     

Share This Page