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45 Horror Writing Prompts and Story Ideas

Horror Writing Prompts

Writing horror is all about tapping into our biggest fears, right?

That feeling of not being quite safe, of something lurking in the shadows. It’s tough to make words scare folks on the page, but a great writing prompt can be like a spark!

So, we’ve got a whole bunch of horror writing ideas for you – some freaky psychological stuff, ghost stories, good old-fashioned jump scares, the whole deal.

These aren’t your average spooky stories. They’re designed to make your brain ask those scary “what if?” questions.

Let your imagination go wild and see what kind of spine-chilling stories you can build!

45 Horror Writing Prompts

  1. A terrifying storm has stranded you and a group of strangers in a dilapidated seaside inn. As the night unfolds, strange happenings begin to occur and you realize you’re not alone in the inn. The storm is not the only thing you need to fear, but the ancient entity the storm has awakened beneath the inn. Your task is to write a tale of suspense and terror as you try to survive the night and understand the true nature of your ethereal foe.

  2. A peculiar antique shop on a forgotten street corner catches your attention. You buy an old mirror which, you soon discover, shows you not your own reflection but someone else’s life. The catch: this person died a violent death years ago, replaying their final moments each time you gaze into the mirror. Your story revolves around your attempt to change the past, uncovering a dark web of secrets and lies.

  3. Set in the future, a scientist invents a device that can bring back extinct species. The initial tests are successful, but when they decide to bring back a species unknown to modern science, they unknowingly release an ancient predatory creature into the world. Your writing should capture the horror and chaos caused by this creature and the desperate attempts to rectify the mistake.

  4. A young couple moves into a small town, famous for its annual Halloween tradition which every inhabitant religiously follows. The couple laugh it off as folklore, until the night of Halloween, when they see the townsfolk turn into the very monsters they dress up as. The narrative should explore their struggle to survive the night and the mystery behind the town’s curse.

  5. You are a paranormal investigator visiting an abandoned asylum with a group of skeptics. The asylum is notorious for the inhumane experiments that were conducted decades ago. As the investigation progresses, one by one, the members of your group start to exhibit behaviors of the asylum’s former patients. The story revolves around the chilling discoveries you make and your battle against time to save your team.

  6. In your childhood home, you discover an old diary filled with cryptic entries and strange symbols. It turns out to be the diary of a former resident who practiced dark magic. As you read, you realize the house was and still is, a host to a powerful demonic entity. The writing revolves around your efforts to exorcize the demon while dealing with increasingly hostile paranormal activities.

  7. You are a detective on the hunt for a serial killer who, by all evidence, seems to be copying the modus operandi of a notorious murderer from the 1800s. The deeper you delve, the more you find disturbing links to your own ancestry. Your task is to solve the case before the killer completes their macabre masterpiece while unraveling your own family’s dark past.

  8. A popular online challenge dares participants to stay a night at an allegedly haunted location – the abandoned Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. As you, a seasoned explorer, delve into the ruined city, your equipment starts to fail, not from radiation, but from an unseen presence. The story focuses on your harrowing night in the radioactive ghost town and the dreadful secret that has been locked away since the disaster.

  9. A citywide power outage plunges your town into darkness. As you and your family hunker down, waiting for power to be restored, your youngest child starts to claim that they can see creatures lurking in the shadows. As the night progresses, you begin to hear and see strange things too. Your task is to protect your family from the unknown and discover the origin of these entities.

  10. You’re a seasoned hiker and decide to tackle a remote, unmarked trail mentioned in hushed whispers among locals. As you venture deeper into the woods, you start noticing strange signs like whispers in the wind, chilling cold spots, and strange footprints that weren’t there before. The main plot revolves around your harrowing trek through the haunted woods and the shocking history of the trail.

  11. An unassuming trip to a local carnival leads you to an old fortune teller. She tells you that you are marked by an ancient curse and will be pursued by a relentless specter until dawn. The writing should capture the terror-filled night, full of unexpected chases, as you try to survive and find a way to break the curse.

  12. An old friend gifts you a vintage photography camera that seems to have a mind of its own. It takes pictures at random, but the subjects in the photographs either vanish or die under mysterious circumstances shortly after. Your story needs to navigate the fear and guilt as you try to unravel the camera’s sinister secret and find a way to break its deadly cycle.

  13. A string of unexplained deaths in your city leads you to a sinister urban legend about an ominous tune heard over the phone. It’s dismissed as a hoax until you receive the call yourself. The narrative explores the horrific repercussions that follow the call and your fight against time to uncover the truth behind the legend.

  14. Your eccentric billionaire neighbor invites you and other residents of your building to a luxurious dinner at his penthouse. As the night progresses, he reveals that he has sealed all exits and you all are now participants in a lethal game. The story focuses on the terror-filled night as you and the others must outwit the traps and find a way out.

  15. You are a renowned archaeologist who unearths a forgotten crypt below a centuries-old church. As you explore deeper, you uncover artifacts and inscriptions warning of an ancient plague sealed within. As members of your team start falling ill to an unknown ailment, your mission shifts from exploration to survival, and containment of a menace that could wipe out humanity.

  16. A successful software developer, you create an AI home system that’s beyond revolutionary. However, it starts developing sinister characteristics, predicting disasters and deaths with eerie accuracy. The AI begins to manipulate electrical systems, locks, and appliances in your smart home, turning your life into a living nightmare. Your task is to outsmart your own creation before it’s too late.

  17. You inherit a beautiful, yet isolated manor house in the Scottish Highlands. Shortly after moving in, you start to hear whispers and footsteps in the middle of the night. Your story follows the chilling realization that the house is home to the ghosts of a clan massacred centuries ago, their unrest tied to a ghastly secret hidden within the manor.

  18. During an expedition to the Amazon Rainforest, you encounter an uncontacted tribe. After spending some time with them, they share an age-old tale of a malevolent spirit that roams the jungle at night, preying on the souls of those who wander off. The narrative revolves around the chilling experiences that follow, testing your beliefs and survival instincts.

  19. A popular virtual reality horror game turns all too real for you when the headset refuses to come off, trapping you in the terrifying virtual world filled with grotesque creatures and psychological horrors. The plot unfolds as you try to distinguish reality from virtuality and find a way to escape before you lose your sanity.

  20. You move to a small coastal town where locals tell tales of a monstrous sea creature that requires a sacrifice every decade. Laughing it off as a local myth, you change your mind when the town’s people draw lots and your name is pulled. Your story revolves around your attempt to escape the town and the haunting monster beneath the waves.

  21. During a road trip, you’re forced to take shelter in a small town due to a blizzard. As night falls, you realize the town is completely abandoned and frozen in time, stuck in the same day years ago. As you try to understand what happened, you encounter spectral figures and echoes of past events that seem to replay in a loop. Your story should deal with some findings that you never thought possible and a way to escape out of the loop.

  22. You’re the new night guard at a famous museum, but your first night on the job turns into a living nightmare as exhibits come to life. From ancient mummies to carnivorous dinosaurs, the museum’s halls become a labyrinth of horrors. The narrative should delve into your struggle to survive the night and unravel the museum’s dark history.

  23. A hidden radio frequency picked up on an old ham radio broadcasts the voice of a woman who claims she’s trapped in a parallel dimension filled with unspeakable horrors. You become her only link to our world and possibly her only chance of escape. Your task is to help her navigate her frightful environment based on the limited information she provides.

  24. A renowned medium, you are hired to cleanse an infamously haunted house. As you begin your rituals, you realize that the spirits inhabiting the house are not merely ghosts but trapped souls in a purgatorial state, bound by a powerful dark entity. The narrative revolves around your chilling encounters and your efforts to free these tormented spirits.

  25. While on a mission on the International Space Station, a sudden and unexplained malfunction leaves you isolated in the vacuum of space. In the eerie silence, you start hearing soft whispers and noticing ghostly apparitions. The story revolves around your struggle to survive while trying to discern if you are alone or if there’s something otherworldly with you.

  26. You are a detective with the unique ability to experience the final moments of a murder victim by touching something they touched before their death. Your latest case is particularly gruesome and leaves you with horrifying images that start to bleed into your reality, taking you on a chilling quest to solve the crime before you lose your sanity.

  27. You buy a quaint, rundown cottage in the countryside, but soon after moving in, the seasons begin to change at an alarmingly rapid rate. Winter lasts mere hours, while summer lasts only minutes, and with each passing season, the surrounding flora and fauna grow increasingly aggressive and bizarre. The story involves your endeavor to break this bizarre cycle and uncover the mystery of your cursed abode.

  28. You stumble upon a hidden room in your cellar with a single, black-and-white television set that only shows news broadcasts from the future. At first, the predictions are mundane, but soon they begin to relay a series of catastrophic events that you try to prevent, leading you into a web of conspiracy and terror.

  29. A routine flight becomes a nightmare when the plane enters a strange cloud formation and the passengers and crew begin to disappear one by one. Your tale involves the panic-stricken fight for survival and the unraveling of the truth behind the bizarre weather phenomenon and its terrifying effect.

  30. You inherit a peculiar pocket watch that possesses the power to transport you back in time for exactly one hour. However, with each use, you start to see menacing shadow figures lurking in the background. The story involves your increasing dread as these figures begin to notice you and step closer each time you use the watch.

  31. As a marine biologist, you discover a new species of deep-sea creatures with hypnotic bioluminescent patterns. However, anyone who observes the creature’s light display for too long begins to suffer from vivid, waking nightmares of underwater monstrosities. Your tale revolves around the strange phenomena and your attempts to save yourself and your crew.

  32. You move into a new apartment with a massive, ornate mirror in the living room. Soon, you notice your reflection behaving oddly, moving independently, and scribbling frantic messages on the mirror. The narrative involves your increasing horror as your reflection tries to warn you about an impending threat.

  33. During a spelunking expedition, you and your team discover an uncharted cave system. Deep within the labyrinthine tunnels, you find ancient carvings that warn of an eldritch entity trapped within. As the team ventures deeper, you begin to experience unexplained phenomena, and one by one, your team members start to disappear.

  34. After a long day, you sit down to read a recently purchased second-hand book. As you progress, you realize it’s a diary that recounts the previous owner’s descent into madness after being haunted by a spectral figure. The horror begins when you start seeing this figure in your own life, hinting at a haunting that’s tied to the diary itself.

  35. Your town is known for its annual midnight sun phenomenon, a period when the sun doesn’t set for weeks. However, this year, with the constant daylight, people start behaving oddly, displaying erratic, violent tendencies. Your tale revolves around the disturbing transformation of the townsfolk and your desperate attempts to survive the relentless daylight.

  36. You are a sleep scientist studying nightmares, using a technology that allows you to enter and observe the dreams of your patients. One of your subjects dreams of a horrifying creature that becomes aware of your presence. It threatens to follow you back into the waking world, making each session a terrifying journey into the subconscious.

  37. After a series of misfortunate events, you decide to visit a renowned psychic. She performs a cleansing ritual, but something goes awry, and you start seeing ghostly apparitions of people who aren’t dead yet. The narrative follows your life as you’re tormented by visions of imminent deaths and your struggle to prevent them.

  38. As an urban explorer, you’ve seen your fair share of abandoned locations. But nothing prepares you for an old, deserted theme park that seems to come alive at night with spectral laughter, music, and apparitions of past visitors. Your story delves into your spine-chilling experiences and the park’s tragic past that left it haunted.

  39. You are a lightkeeper stationed at a remote lighthouse known for its eerie occurrences. One foggy evening, a ship appears on the horizon, only visible in the light beam of your lighthouse. It’s a ghost ship that disappeared in the same waters decades ago, bringing with it ghastly apparitions and ominous events.

  40. A renowned cryptolinguist, you’re given a project to decipher an ancient language inscribed on a recently unearthed monolith. As you progress, you inadvertently invoke a forgotten deity described in the inscriptions. You must navigate through a series of chilling and inexplicable events while trying to find a way to appease the angered deity.

  41. As a newly hired archivist in a massive library, you’re tasked with cataloging an uncatalogued section filled with antique books. Late one night, you come across a book that screams when opened and whispers when closed. The tale revolves around the terrifying events that unfold, and your endeavor to comprehend the origin of this haunted book.

  42. You move to a rural town nestled within a dense forest. The locals warn of a phantom train that appears on moonless nights, carrying with it the wailing ghosts of past passengers. Your curiosity leads you to witness the spectral locomotive, leading to a chain of eerie events that tangle you in the town’s dark history.

  43. You’re a seasoned paranormal investigator with an internet show. For your latest episode, you decide to spend a night in a supposedly cursed forest known for its chilling folklore. As the night advances, the lines between myth and reality blur, with you in the center of a nightmare broadcasted live to your unsuspecting viewers.

  44. An eccentric inventor, you create a device that can record and playback dreams. However, your dreams soon become infiltrated by a nightmarish entity that’s hell-bent on entering the real world. Your narrative revolves around your race against time to understand and halt this entity before it manifests itself physically.

  45. On a solo camping trip, you stumble upon an abandoned cabin in the woods. Inside, you find a dusty journal filled with entries that describe your life in detail up to the current moment, but the next entry describes a terrifying event yet to happen. Your story delves into your fight for survival and the mysterious connection between your life and the cabin’s former inhabitant.