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A Shady Plot

01 A Shady Plot

In the story ‘A Shady Plot’, John Hallock is in a similar situation where he had no idea how to write a ghost story which Jenkins -his publisher had asked him to write. Usually he was full of ideas but this time he was left without any ideas- no beginning, no plot, and no climax.

A Shady Plot’ is an amusing story about a writer John Hallock. His supernatural stories about ghosts are quite popular with the public. When he is thinking hard for a plot of a new story, a ghost appears. She tells him that the ghosts were on strike because too many people use Ouija Boards. John’s wife, Lavinia too, buys an Ouija board and arranges an Ouija board party with her friends. A misunderstanding is created when the ghost calls John a traitor through the Ouija board. In the end Lavinia sees Helen, the ghost. Her misunderstanding is cleared and she reconciles with her husband. Thus, the story is a unique blend of intelligent humour with horror to create entertainment for the readers. The supernatural elements in the story don’t scare the readers; they rather augment the humour.

Character Sketch:

John Hallock

He is a ghost story writer. Whenever his publisher asks him for a new story, he is able to write one. Usually, he has no idea where the plot will come from; he suddenly gets inspiration and is able to produce a new story. This made him cocky and overconfident. He has a wilful and whimsical wife who seems to enjoy spending money on every new fad or fashion. In order to meet her demands, Hallock has to work as a bookkeeper in a warehouse. His encounter with the ghost of Helen is a new and shocking thing as he is told that ghosts inspire him and give him all the ideas for his stories. He is witty, creative, caring and in moral dread of his wife Lavinia


She is John’s wife and seems to be a domineering person. At the same time she is interested in fashions and fads. She has an alarming tendency to spend money. Her latest craze is Ouija board. She buys one and calls her friends for an Ouija party. John describes his wife as a very sensitive little lady. Lavinia also gets easily influenced by people. She may come across as a vacuous wife, but finally displays genuine love and affection for her husband.


She is a ghost who helps struggling writers in writing ghost stories. While she was alive, she was a writer too, but failed miserably. Now, along with her fellow ghosts, she founded ‘Writers’ Inspiration Bureau’ which give extended help to those writers who have no ideas. She is angry because the ghosts have to be at the beck and call of the Ouija board fanatics to answer their questions. This does not leave them with any time for their amusement or haunting others. So, she orders John to stop these things in his house.

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