The novel I am writing hinges on an orphan boy, who is not evil, but merely frustrated and angry with the world and how it is treating him. I need him to do something or cause something to happen that inadvertently kills many of the people in his town. This causes another of the main characters, also a child, to resent him and to be unable to forgive him.

I want this story to be in a fairly modern time period, preferably in the United States. It would be better if thing this boy did, let's call him Bob, would be something that didn't necessarily result in a prison for life sentence or something similar, or if it did, couldn't be directly traced to him. Maybe Bob's action could be considered an accident or a result of stupidity or someone else's carelessness in allowing it to happen. The other character, I'll call her Maya, would recognize that it was Bob's fault in some way. Again, Bob's actions do show his anger, but he did not genuinely intend to kill many people.

What I am asking for is a specific example of a scenario that could cause such a thing. I have no problem or question about how the characters interact, just about explaining this event in the past.

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    Could you please ask a specific question? I'm not sure if you're asking for people to come up with ideas for a scenario that would fit your description or if you want to know specifics about how to write such a scenario. The former is not on topic in Writers, the latter would need a more specific question about what exactly you're struggling with (the setup? How to make the characters believable? Etc.). – B Altmann Dec 11 '17 at 18:54
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    This seems to be a what to write question -- that is, a request for help generating ideas. That is off topic here. I suspect it is off topic on World Building as well. Basically, requests to help you come up with ideas don't fit the SE format at all. – user16226 Dec 11 '17 at 22:43
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    This question is somewhat troubling because of "what to write" classification, and also because it fits WorldBuilding better. I'd vote for migration, but apparently questions here can only be migrated to meta or English. Weird. – FFN Dec 11 '17 at 23:54
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it seems more pertinent to world-building issues (such as: what would happen if... in a world/country where....). – FraEnrico Dec 12 '17 at 12:17

I'd suggest a prank gone wrong.

In real life, literally playing with matches or starting a prank fire has caused apartment buildings to burn down and kill several people. Maya can know Bob was prone to this, trying to scare people, and perhaps have even scolded him for doing it on the day of the fire.

Other pranks: Messing with somebody's car and causing a crash. I know a girl that nearly crashed because somehow a squirrel had gotten into her car, and the first she knew of this was when it leaped up onto the dash in front of her. Bob could do something like that intentionally, with a grass snake he found. It comes out from under a seat and kids start screaming hysterically, the person driving is panicked and crashes into a school bus, or veers into oncoming traffic and cause a lethal pile up.

On the same idea of messing with a vehicle, the vehicle can be an 18-wheeler and Bob can think he is just nicking a line with his pocket knife or poking a hole in something to cause the driver an inconvenience, but whatever he does causes a fluid leak (like brake lines) and the truck loses control to cause a big lethal mess on the highway.

Perhaps some prank about sabotaging the water supply could make people very sick, and kill elderly and infants with compromised immune systems. Bob may think this will only cause much vomiting, and not realize it will kill dozens.

Pranks are the kind of thing people can get away with and kill, and know they killed, dozens of people. In fire, in traffic accidents, in illness.

  • Thanks, I will try the fire scenario, maybe testing firecrackers to scare people, which accidentally hits a flammable house or something of that sort. – Miro Nieto Dec 11 '17 at 20:44

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