160 Horror Writing Prompts to Formulate the Best Horror Stories!

Recently updated on December 9th, 2023 at 09:55 am

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Horror writing prompts to inspire writers who want to pen down spooky stories to get their creative juices flowing. 

Consulting prompts is an excellent way to get ideas for your next story in the best way possible!

This article will put forward fantastic horror writing prompts from different genres to help you get started. 

So get started on your story today! 

It’s time for writers to let their inner demons out for a night of fun and creativity.

Note: The following prompts help you write horror fiction. They’re not meant to be triggering or intimidating, but they can help you develop your style and start writing your own stories.

Let’s get started!

Psychological Horror Writing Prompts

Have you ever tried to write a psychological horror story but found that it wasn’t coming out right? 

It’s hard to get in the mindset of a genuinely terrifying setting. What if you could figure out how to write psychological horror in a way that is easy for you to understand and relate to?

Here are some psychological horror writing prompts that will give you chills down your spine:

  1. Write about a time when you were in an uncomfortable situation, like being at work or home with your family. Describe how you felt and what was going through your mind. Write about how the case made you think and how it changed over time. How did this experience change your life? In what ways do these experiences still impact your life today?
  1. Write about an experience where someone close to you did something really unexpected or hurtful towards you. Describe what happened, why it made you feel hurt, and how it changed over time. What are some other ways that people can make us feel this way? In what ways do these experiences still impact our lives today?
  1. You need a way to show that you care. We all need a way to express gratitude and love, sometimes firmly and gently. With so many ways to get in touch and send messages in this age of technology, it’s time for something different. You enter the world of black magic. 
  1. Friends are the people who make us laugh, understand when no one else does, and support us in our times of need. What if you have a best friend who is not a human being but an evil spirit?
  1. What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? What was it like? How did it make you feel?
  1. What’s the most disturbing thing that has ever happened to you? What made it so unsettling? If there’s a reason for that, try to think about why it might be troublesome for readers, too.
  1. Do you find yourself getting creeped out by things other people don’t seem to notice or care about? If so, what do those things look like? How do they make you feel when they occur in real life?
  1. Think about how horrific something would be if someone tried it on purpose—like if someone were trying to scare someone else intentionally by doing something horrible/scary/disturbing/unsettling.
  1. Write a piece about a character who isn’t all that aware of their own behaviors and actions until something unusual happens.
  1. Write about a typical character with a weird habit or behavior that makes them stand out from their peers.
  1. Write about a character who is really good at something, like music, sports, or art, but they don’t know it because they’re too caught up in work all day until a spirit enlightens him/her of the talents they possess. 
  1. Imagine you’re making your way through the woods when this weird creature suddenly follows you and tries to get your attention! What do you do?
  1. The room is dark and cold. You are in a mental hospital, but you don’t know where.
  1. You hear a noise from the corner of the room and see a man standing there. The man has long hair and wears a long coat.
  1. He stares at you for a moment, then backs away slowly into the shadows.
  1. You are in a mental hospital. The room is dark, and you are freezing. You see a man standing in the corner of the room. He has long hair and is wearing a long coat.
  1. You hear a noise behind you and turn to see a man standing in the corner. He’s wearing a long coat that covers his feet. His hair is long, covering his eyes, which are puffy and red as if he hasn’t slept in days.
  1. You are lying on a comfortable leather couch in an office, your feet up on the coffee table. You’re waiting for a meeting with a prospective employer.
  1. You are sitting in your living room when someone knocks on the door. You stand up and walk over to the door, opening it to see your best friend.
  1. There are three people in a cold room. One wears a business suit, one wears old rags, and one is completely nude. Three more people enter the room. A little girl points at the man wearing rags and laughing maniacally. “Who is that?” she asks her father.
  1. Do you ever feel like there’s more to you than what meets the eye?
  1. Do you ever feel like someone is watching you, even when no one is?
  1. Do you ever feel like something is missing from your life but can’t figure out what?
  1. The monster inside: A woman has a recurring nightmare of an unspeakable evil always standing just behind her. When she wakes up, she finds scratches on her back.
horror writing prompts
  1. The woman has a recurring nightmare of an unspeakable evil always standing just behind her. When she wakes up, she finds scratches on her back. What does this mean? Is it real or just a dream? How does it affect the woman? How do we deal with our fears in life, and what happens when they’re brought out into reality (or vice versa)?
  1. Unwelcomed visitor: A little girl’s doll grows increasingly more sinister as the days go by.
  1. You find an old VHS tape at a thrift store. It’s titled “The Family Murders,” and you decide to watch it since it could be interesting to see how people were murdered 50 years ago. But when you play it, you find footage of your own family being murdered!
  1. A man awakes to find himself in his bed with no memory of how he got there. He notices something on the floor from the corner of his eye, and when he turns to look, he discovers that his wife’s body has been torn in half at the waist.
  1. An old-timey circus brings its show to town, but the townspeople soon discover that their secrets are being exploited for entertainment.
  1. A boy who can’t speak is sent to an all-boys Catholic boarding school where strange things begin happening to those around him.
  1. A little girl hears a monster outside her window every night, but nobody believes her except one friend who promises to help protect her from whatever might be out there.
  1. A little boy is possessed by an evil spirit.

Creative Horror Writing Prompts

Here is some creative horror writing prompts. Have fun!

  1. Write a horror story inspired by a dream you had.
  1. Write a horror story that takes place on an airplane or train.
  1. Write a horror story that involves children or teenagers.
  1. Write a horror story that involves animals.
  1. Write a horror story about the end of the world or something similar to that theme.
  1. What is the most effective way to communicate with a ghost?
  1. Would you like to be able to see your own death in advance?
  1. What’s the best way to treat a ghost that wants revenge on someone?
  1. How can you avoid being haunted by a ghost?
  1. What is the scariest thing you’ve ever seen?
  1. What’s the creepiest story you can tell about yourself?
  1. If you could see ghosts, what would you do with them?
  1. Write a horror story in which the only character is a cat.
  1. Write a horror story in which the only character is an empty soda can.
  1. Write a horror story in which the only character is a coin.
  1. Write a horror story in which the only character is a piece of paper.
  1. Write a horror story in which the only character is a mouse.
  1. Write a horror story in the voice of a 13-year-old girl.
  1. Write a horror story where the characters are all using musical instruments in their fight against evil.

Related : Memoir writing prompt

  1. Write a horror story about the dark side of human nature, where people are cruel to each other and don’t care who they hurt or how they hurt them.
  1. Write a horror story about a group of friends who go on vacation together, but then something goes horribly wrong when they return home from vacation.

Horror Story Prompts With a Twist

The best horror stories are always the ones that surprise us. Those keep us on our toes and make us wonder what will happen next. We can’t put down the ones because they’re so captivating, even when we don’t want to be.

Here are a few horror writing prompts for you to articulate stories with a twist:

  1. The girl is a great friend, but she’s not what she seems. She has a secret that she wants to share but can’t because of whatever keeps her from telling you. Can you figure out what it is?
  1. A girl who thought her mum was sleeping with her when it was actually a ghost. 
  1. A girl wakes up in a dark room to find a man standing before her. He tells her that he’s there to help, but she doesn’t understand why he’s in her room, and he says that she needs to go back to sleep and relax. She tries to escape from him, but he grabs her and holds her still.
  1. A woman is walking down the street late at night when she sees a young boy running toward her. He begs for help, saying that his family has been killed by thieves who have kidnapped him and are holding him hostage in their house. The woman agrees to take him home with her for protection until the police can arrive and arrest the criminals who did this terrible thing.
  1. A man awakens from a nightmare to find himself naked on a beach with no memory of how he got there or where it is. He begins walking toward the water when he hears someone calling his name—and then sees two women approaching with weapons drawn! They tell him they’ll kill him if he doesn’t tell them everything about his life—but first, they want him to show them something interesting about himself!
  1. It is Halloween, and you are in the final stretch of your life. You’re waiting for the inevitable moment when you’ll be whisked away to a better place, where you can finally rest and not worry about anything. But instead, something completely unexpected happens: you get a call from your daughter. 
  1. She’s been home for a few days now, but she hasn’t been herself—she keeps getting into trouble with her friends and looking at stuff on the internet that’s scary. It’s time for you to come home now. Your daughter needs you.
  1. You’ve been thinking about this moment for a while now: how your daughter will never know how much she means to you; how much she needs you right now; how much she loves you and misses you every single day even though she doesn’t show it because she’s too scared or embarrassed or whatever it is that makes people do things they shouldn’t do when they’re afraid or embarrassed or ashamed.
  1. A girl goes to the movies to see a new romantic comedy, but when she gets there, she finds out it’s a real-life horror movie.
  1. To survive, a man has to play a game of “chicken” with a serial killer.
  1. A woman learns the hard way that her boyfriend isn’t quite the gentleman she thought he was when he says he loves her and then turns around and kills her in cold blood before making off with all her belongings (including her car).
  1. You’re in a car with your family on vacation, and the engine stops working. Your dad is driving, so he can’t restart it himself. What do you do?
  1. You’re at a party when the lights start flickering, then go out entirely. There’s no power in the house, so everyone heads home—but you want to stay longer because there’s a band playing that your friend told you about. How do you get her attention without being seen?
  1. You’re at home alone when someone knocks on the door, but when you open it, there’s no one. What do you do next?
  1. It was a typical day. I woke up, got ready for school, and went downstairs to make breakfast. I told my mom I was going to the grocery store, and she said, “go ahead.”
  1. I went to the store, bought my stuff, and returned home. As soon as I walked in the door, though, something was wrong. The house felt different. It smelled different. It felt colder than usual—and that was saying something because it was always out in my house, even when it was 80 degrees outside!
horror writing prompts
  1. I ran upstairs and saw that every window in my house had been left open at once! My mom wasn’t home, so I called her on her phone, but nobody picked up, so I left a message saying that someone had opened all of our windows. At the same time, we were gone last night and wanted her to call me back ASAP because they wouldn’t be able to sleep with all those open windows making noise from outside until she called us back about it.

Short Horror Story Ideas

Here are some short horror writing prompts that will tap your imagination

  1. A ghost of a child is haunting your house. What do you do? How do you react?
  1. A family of four is on vacation, but one of them goes missing. The other three must figure out what happened to their friend and try to find him before it’s too late.
  1. You’re trapped in a haunted house with no way out. Can you survive? Will the ghosts know you’re here, or will they think you’re another one of their victims?
  1. A group of friends is headed to a cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway, but when they arrive, they discover that one of their parties has been murdered there before. Can they find out who did it and stop this from happening again?
  1. A girl decides to go camping alone with her parents’ camper while they are away at work–but she never makes it back home! When she wakes up in the morning, she realizes something is wrong: The campsite has been covered in blood… and there’s a body lying next to hers! What happened? Who is this person, and where can she find help if she needs it?
  1. A woman is haunted by her dead husband.
  1. A man is haunted by his murdered wife.
  1. A man is haunted by his dead brother.
  1. A woman is haunted by her dead daughter.
  1. A husband and wife are walking through a forest when they hear a group playing music. The husband is curious about the music, but his wife insists they keep moving. They reach the edge of the forest, and as they step out onto a meadow, they see a giant tree trunk with several branches extending into the sky. The components have humanoid figures hanging from them. As the couple approaches the tree, one of the figures drops down from a unit and attacks them!
  1. A newlywed couple visits their in-laws for dinner when they discover something odd: all of their children have gone missing! The father searches through town for them while his wife stays home with their newborn child; strange things start happening around the house. When she worries that her husband has forgotten her and left her alone with their child, she takes matters into her own hands. She goes out looking for him–only to find that he has been kidnapped by an escaped convict who claims to know where all their missing children are buried!
  1. A boy and his best friend, a dog, are sent to live with their aunt after their parents die in a car accident. The only problem is that the aunt is a witch and uses her powers to make the boy do all sorts of horrible things.
  1. A girl gets trapped in an elevator with a creepy old man and his cat. She tries to escape, but the man locks her in and refuses to let her out until she helps him finish a crossword puzzle!

Related : Romance writing prompts

  1. An old woman is haunted by the ghost of her dead grandmother, who tells her that she needs to find three women who have been murdered so that they can help her get revenge on everyone who has wronged her over the years.
  1. A man is in the shower, and suddenly the water goes out! He sits on the floor and waits for his wife to come home and fix it. But when she comes home, she’s been murdered! He tries to call 911, but he keeps getting disconnected.
  2. A woman is at her desk when suddenly a black figure looms over her, reaching for her neck. She turns around, but it’s gone—no one there!
  1. A woman is walking down a deserted street late at night when two figures appear out of nowhere and start chasing her. She runs as fast as she can, but they’re faster than she is! She tries to hide behind a dumpster—but it’s too late; one of them catches up and grabs her by the leg!
  1. A man picks up his phone to take a call from his boss—but he sees that the call button has been replaced with an eye with a red line through it! He tries to ignore it and continue talking about work, but then he notices two eyes on his screen: one red line and one green line. 

Gothic Story Ideas With a Twist 

Here are some gothic horror writing prompts with a twist.

  1. A twisted tale of romance and horror, set in a castle built upon a mountain.
  1. A wealthy family inherited a large castle with over 200 rooms. The family’s story is well-known: they are descended from a long line of successful merchants, but they have fallen on hard times due to their father’s decision to leave his business to his son. The family’s fortunes have risen again when their daughter marries an incredibly wealthy man who has become the owner of several firms and factories. The couple has three children—two sons and a daughter—who are all very close in age.
  1. A young man, who is handsome and athletic, enjoys spending time playing sports with his friends; however, he also has a secret passion for reading old books about ancient castles and talking about how cool it would be if there was an abandoned castle somewhere nearby where he could explore it without getting caught by his parents or teachers because nobody else knew about this interest of his anyway. On this day, however, something happens that changes everything for him forever. 
  1. A young woman is cursed to be a vampire, but she must find a way to break the curse before it’s too late.
  1. You hear a loud scream from under your bed. 
  1. You read a story about missing children only to find them all standing before you. 
  1. Your mom looks frightened when you ask her why about the weird sounds coming out from the garage. 
  1. Write about a mysterious woman who crosses the avenue daily at 3 am. 
  1. Write about the dead body you found in your bathroom. 
  1. A girl needs to drink human blood even though she is not a vampire. She knows she is possessed by an evil spirit who forcefully gets all this stuff done by her. 
  1. The lone survivor of a horrific train crash now has multiple personalities of the people who died in the train crash. 

Mystery Writing Prompts

Below are some mystery and horror writing prompts for you.

  1. Write a mystery story where the detective is a horse. Write a mystery story where the detective can’t speak. 
  1. Write a mystery story about an animal allergic to something (like cats) and must solve crimes so they do not get eaten by their cat allergy victim’s neighbors. 
  1. Write a mystery story about a girl who hides in her cupboard and can listen to voices that others can’t
  1. Write a mystery story about an animal cursed with invisibility and must solve crimes so he not to be seen by those he would otherwise know if he were visible. 
  1. Write a mystery story about a boy that discovers that he can speak to the dead
horror writing prompts

Ghost Story Writing Prompts

Here are some horror writing prompts with some ghost stories that can be added to them. This will add some twists to the story. A ghost story is about an experience that you had, but it’s not necessarily a true story. You can use it as a prompt for writing about your experiences with ghosts or spirits.

  1. You heard a voice in your head that told you to go downstairs because something terrible would happen if you didn’t go there immediately. 
  1. A man is driving down the highway when he sees a car pull out in front of him. He swerves, narrowly missing the other vehicle, but crashing into something else—a wall. He gets out of his car and looks around to see what hit. He finds nothing but an empty field. The next day, he goes back to check again and finds that someone has put up a sign that says “Welcome to your new home.”
  1. A ghost story, the stuff of which legends are made.
  1. The story of a man who was so afraid of ghosts that he couldn’t sleep at night without taking a sleeping pill, even though he had no reason to be frightened.
  1. A man who has heard strange noises in his house can’t figure out where they’re coming from.
  1. A man who has been hearing voices since he was young, but when he tells them to leave him alone, they start talking louder and louder until they’re right in his ear (and not just talking—they’re yelling).
  1. A girl finds a strange note on her side table. The note read, “welcome to the new world of evil spirits.”
  1. Your estranged aunt comes to visit you after 20 years. Her intentions are as dangerous as they can get. 
  1. You see a tiny man nibbling on a candy bar when you enter your kitchen. As soon as you pat him on the shoulder, his scary face is too much for you to handle. You pass out. Now, when you wake up, you are in an unknown place. 
  1. You and your group of friends go to a hill station for hiking. When you are hiking, you get surrounded by weird-looking creatures with daggers in their hands. 
  1. Write a dark story when you get to know that your parents are not humans but evil spirits who stole you from your real parents.
  1. A lady with a kind heart is fooled by an evil spirit and tricked into killing her own husband. 
  1. Your horror writing prompts can circle around the most popular genres of dolls being possessed by evil spirits. 
  1. In the past year, very unusual happenings have been reported around you. Everyone comes to the conclusion that the problem is you. 
  1. Your dog is possessed by the spirit of your late grandmother. 
  1. You buy a new house, and the shrieky voices at night don’t let you sleep. 
  1. You see an old woman in your backyard. She has the face of a witch with her toes bent backward.
  1. You find a voodoo doll, along with your photo, under your mother’s bed. 
  1. Evil spirits possess your cat.
  1. Write about a suicide attempt that was controlled by evil spirits. 
  1. Write about single-car cruises where your car hits a man who suddenly disappears. 
  1. Your grandfather lies to you about who your real parents are. Your grandfather is a ghost. 
  1. The porcelain doll on your side table starts speaking. 
  1. Write about a man who talked to the dead bodies in the graveyard. 
  1. There’s an open house day at your college when unexpected guests (evil spirits in the form of cats) arrive. 
  1. A terrified woman backs her direction out of horror from the scary-faced man beside her bedroom door. 

Halloween Writing Prompts 

Below are some horror writing prompts you can use for Halloween.

  1. It’s Friday the 13th and it’s Halloween night. Everyone is dressed in a costumer except for someone who actually is really a ghost. Complete the story.
  2. Your parents leave you alone for Halloween night. You hear a knock on the door. Except it is not for a trick or treats. The person had a real knife in hand. Explain what happens next.
  3. You get a new neighbor that is creepy. Describe their strange habits.
  4. You have a porcelain doll that suddenly turns her head.
  5. You are locked in your house and the windows cannot be broken. You find yourself trapped. What happened next?
  6. You are walking alone at night through a cemetery. Explain the noises you heard that evening.
  1. The Pumpkin King: A story of a man who wanted to become a king but realized that he could only be king on Halloween.

Related : Manifesting writing methods

Manifesting writing methods
  1. The Ghost of Halloween Past: A story about a man who can see ghosts and how he met a spirit from his past on Halloween.
  1. Jack O’Lantern: A story about a man who loves pumpkins but doesn’t like how they look on him—so he disguises himself as one and goes trick-or-treating with his friends.
  1. Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster: A story about a scientist who creates a half-human abomination, half monster, but he doesn’t realize how scary it is (until it starts killing people).

We hope you enjoyed the scary story ideas above. You can get inspiration by watching a scary movie in the middle of the night. Think about a plot twist in the movie and use that as an inspiration for your next horror story.

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Parven founded Kids N Clicks after obtaining her MSc in Corporate Governance from the London School of Economics. She worked as a business studies and digital marketing lecturer. Internet Matters recognizes her profound knowledge of online safety, dubbing her an Internet safety expert. At Kids N Clicks, Parven keeps abreast of the newest apps. Drawing from her teaching background, she fervently promotes screen-free activities for students and encourages introspective thinking through journaling, games and writing prompts.

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