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159 Horror Story Prompts to Get You Started Writing Scary Tales (Organized by Genre)

Do you love to write horror stories? If so, then you’re in luck! In this blog post, we will provide inspiration via 159 horror story creative writing prompts that will get your creative juices flowing. Whether you are a beginner or experienced writer, these prompts – categorized by horror genre – will help you create spine-chilling tales that will send shivers down your readers’ spines. So what are you waiting for? Get started writing your scary story today!

25 General Horror Writing Prompts

Before we get into the categorized prompts, here are 25 general horror story ideas that you can use to get started writing:

  1. A family moves into a new house and discovers that the ghost of a previous owner haunts it.
  2. A group of friends goes on a camping trip in the woods and is stalked by a killer.
  3. A young woman is alone when she hears strange noises from inside her house.
  4. A woman is driving home from work late at night when her car breaks down in a dark and isolated area.
  5. A group of friends decides to play a game of Ouija board and summon a demonic entity in the process.
  6. A woman wakes up in a hospital without recollecting how she got there or what happened to her.
  7. A mother discovers that her children have been playing with a voodoo doll that seems to be affecting them in strange ways.
  8. A group of teenagers dares each other to spend the night in a haunted house.
  9. A woman is being terrorized by threatening phone calls and strange gifts showing up at her door.
  10. An elderly woman living alone notices that things in her house are mysteriously moving around on their own.
  11. On Halloween night, a young child dressed as a clown comes to the door of a babysitter who is home alone with two small children.
  12. A woman discovers that her identical twin sister has been locked away in an asylum for years and decides to take her place.
  13. Faced with the prospect of being laid off, a man starts seeing his co-workers killed off in mysterious accidents.
  14. While cleaning out her deceased grandmother’s house, a woman finds an old music box that seems to have a life of its own.
  15. After being involved in a car accident, a woman starts having terrifying nightmares about dying.
  16. A group of friends goes on a beach vacation and discovers their hotel is haunted.
  17. While trying clothes in a dressing room, a woman notices she’s not alone.
  18. At their weekly poker game, a group of friends discovers that one of them has been replaced by an impostor.
  19. After being stranded on an island, a group of survivors finds themselves being hunted by cannibals.
  20. On vacation in Mexico, a couple witnesses disturbing rituals at an abandoned temple.
  21. After moving into their new home, a family realizes they’re not the only ones living there.
  22. Returning home from war, a soldier discovers that sinister doppelgangers have replaced his family.
  23. Desperate for money, a woman agrees to participate in an illegal medical experiment.
  24. When performing maintenance on an old elevator, a worker gets stuck overnight with some unwanted company.
  25. A homeowner makes a horrifying discovery by investigating strange noises coming from the attic.

25 Horror Screenplay Ideas

Looking for ideas for horror screenplays? This list will help inspire your writing.

  1. A small town is plagued by a curse that causes the residents to turn into animals overnight.
  2. A woman is haunted by the ghost of her dead sister, who is trying to kill her.
  3. A group of friends goes on a camping trip in the woods and are hunted by a pack of werewolves.
  4. A young girl is possessed by a demon and starts murdering people in her town.
  5. A man discovers that an alien creature has replaced his wife.
  6. A family moves into a new house and discovers that the ghosts of the previous owners haunt it.
  7. A woman is stalked by an abusive ex-boyfriend who has come back from the dead.
  8. A group of friends visit a haunted house and are terrorized by the ghosts that live there.
  9. Zombies abduct a couple on vacation in the Caribbean.
  10. A mother tries to protect her children from a monster that lives in their closet.
  11. An evil witch turns people into frogs, and they must find a way to break the spell before it’s too late.
  12. During an eclipse, vampires come out from hiding and start feeding on humans again.
  13. A mad scientist creates a serum that turns people into zombies and unleashes it upon the world.
  14. A woman is being haunted and driven insane by demonic children.
  15. While investigating a series of murders, a detective discovers that werewolves are responsible.
  16. A demon possesses people through technology, like cell phones and computers.
  17. On Halloween night, all the previously deceased rise from their graves as zombies.
  18. When enemies break into his home, a boy must protect his younger sister from them.
  19. After moving into their new home, a family realizes they are not alone but are being watched.
  20. As teens party in an abandoned warehouse, they become trapped and must face deadly consequences.
  21. After being experimented on, a man gains psychic abilities, which he uses to take revenge.
  22. At summer camp, a group of kids discovers that the staff are aliens planning to eat them.
  23. As teens explore an abandoned asylum, they begin to disappear.
  24. On vacation in Japan, an American family becomes caught up in Yakuza paranormal activity.
  25. While hiking in the mountains, a group of friends become lost and must find their way back before nightfall.

37 Science Fiction Horror Prompts

If you’re a science fiction and horror fan, then you know that the two genres go together like peanut butter and jelly. Both genres deal with things beyond our understanding, and both can be pretty scary.

  1. A space expedition goes horribly wrong when the crew realizes they’re not alone on the ship.
  2. A group of friends uses a time machine to go back in time, but they accidentally end up in a parallel universe where creatures with malevolent intentions are hunting them.
  3. A ghost haunts a woman astronaut from her past that she thought she had taken care of long ago.
  4. An alien invasion takes over a small town, and the only people left are a group of teens who have to figure out how to get rid of the aliens before it’s too late.
  5. A cursed alien object is unearthed, and those who touch it are met with gruesome deaths.
  6. A mad scientist is experimenting on people to create the perfect human being.
  7. A group of people has to find their way out of a maze on a faraway exoplanet filled with deadly traps set by a madman.
  8. A virus has turned humanity into zombies, and a small group of survivors must do whatever it takes to stay alive in this new world filled with death and destruction.
  9. After making a wish on a shooting star, a girl’s life is turned upside down when she starts seeing creatures that no one else can see.
  10. A boy finds an old door deep in the forest that leads him to another world where he is not welcomed.
  11. A girl with psychic abilities inadvertently opens a portal to another dimension that unleashes terror upon her small town.
  12. While investigating strange disappearances near their hometown, three friends discover an evil alien entity that wants them dead.
  13. After taking some weird pills given to her by her teacher, a student starts seeing terrifying hallucinations of an alien invasion.
  14. During an eclipse, everyone in town suddenly goes blind…except for one person.
  15. People start mysteriously disappearing in town, leading some residents to believe that aliens might be responsible.
  16. While visiting her grandparent’s house, a girl discovers an old photograph of herself as a child…but she doesn’t remember ever taking it.
  17. In a future world where a hive mind connects everyone, one woman starts to hear voices that aren’t hers.
  18. A team of astronauts on a deep space mission discovers a creature hiding aboard their ship.
  19. A young woman wakes up from cryogenic sleep to find that she’s the only person on earth.
  20. In a world where democracy has fallen and corporations rule, one man discovers the dark secret they’re hiding.
  21. A group of scientists working on a top-secret project inadvertently open a door to another dimension.
  22. A woman discovers that her perfect life is just an illusion created by an AI implant in her brain.
  23. A man finds himself caught in a time loop, reliving the same day repeatedly with deadly consequences.
  24. An environmental disaster has left the earth uninhabitable except for a small dome city run by a tyrannical government.
  25. In a future world where cloning is commonplace, one woman discovers that she’s not who she thought she was.
  26. A family on vacation in space finds themselves terrorized by an alien creature stalking them.
  27. A woman wakes up from surgery to find that she’s been given someone else’s heart – and it’s still beating inside her chest.
  28. In a world where people can upload their consciousnesses into virtual reality, one man realizes he’s not the only one controlling his avatar.
  29. A group of friends playing an augmented reality game discovers that they’re not the only ones playing it – and the stakes are deadly high.
  30. An alien invasion has left humanity retreating underground, but when one man ventures back up to the surface, he finds something even more horrifying.
  31. A small town is being terrorized by a killer who turns out to be…something not quite human.
  32. A woman experimenting with lucid dreaming realizes too late that she’s not the only one inside her head.
  33. In a future world controlled by artificial intelligence, one man begins to suspect that his memories are not his own.
  34. A woman haunted by nightmares discovers that they might be real -and she’s not the only one experiencing them.
  35. A group of scientists working on bringing extinct animals back to life realize too late that they’ve resurrected something far more dangerous.
  36. When a suspicious virus turns people into zombies, one man discovers that he may have started it all.
  37. In the wake of an alien invasion, women find themselves inexplicably drawn to one of the aliens -but is it purely physical attraction or something more sinister?

27 Halloween Night Horror Prompts

The veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest on Halloween night. Strange things can happen on Halloween night…and that’s why it’s the perfect time for horror writers to get their creative juices flowing. Here are 25 horrifying prompts to get you started.

  1. A group of friends is telling ghost stories around a bonfire. One of them starts to tell a story about a cursed house in their town…but then they realize they’re standing in front of that house.
  2. A young woman is at home alone on Halloween night when she hears someone break into her house. She hides under the bed, but then she realizes the intruder is already in the room with her.
  3. A family is driving home from a Halloween party when they hit a deer on the road. They get out of the car to check on the deer, but it’s not dead…it’s something else entirely.
  4. A babysitter watches two kids while their parents are out for the evening. The power goes out, and she hears strange noises from upstairs.
  5. A woman is Walking home from her office late at night when she sees a man Following her. She quickens her pace, but he quickens his too. She starts to run, but he’s right behind her.
  6. A group of teens is dared to spend the night in a haunted graveyard on Halloween night. As midnight approaches, they realize they’re not alone in the graveyard.
  7. A girl is trick-or-treating with her friends when they come across a house that looks abandoned. But the lights are on, and she can hear people inside.
  8. A boy is out playing basketball by himself on Halloween night when he sees a clown walking down the street toward him.
  9. While cleaning up after a Halloween party, a woman finds a hidden door in her basement that she’s never seen before. She opens it and goes down into the darkness.
  10. A woman is home alone on Halloween night when she gets a call from an unknown number. The person on the other end says, “I’m coming to get you…”
  11. A group of friends is exploring an old abandoned mental asylum on Halloween night when they hear something coming from one of the cells.
  12. A girl is walking home from school when she takes a shortcut through an alley and sees something strange in one of the dumpsters.
  13. A family moves into a new house on Halloween night and starts unpacking their boxes..but something doesn’t feel right about this place.
  14. A babysitter is home alone with the kids on Halloween night when strange things start happening.
  15. A group of friends is celebrating Halloween at a remote cabin when they’re suddenly cut off from the outside world.
  16. A young woman is out trick-or-treating with her friends when she realizes a masked man is following her.
  17. A family moves into a new house on Halloween night and starts to experience some eerie paranormal activity.
  18. While preparing for Halloween, a woman finds an old box in the attic that contains some disturbing items.
  19. On Halloween night, a woman is mysteriously drawn to an abandoned house she’s never seen before.
  20. On Halloween night, a group of teenagers decides to explore their town’s haunted history by visiting some of its most famous ghost stories locations..while being watched by something evil.
  21. While home alone on Halloween night, a boy accidentally unleashes something evil when he reads aloud from an old book he found.
  22. A group of teens ditch their planned Halloween party in search of adventure and end up somewhere they shouldn’t have gone.
  23. While watching a horror movie at midnight on Halloween, a teenage girl starts receiving terrifying texts from an unknown number.
  24. A family spends their first Halloween in their new house but soon discovers they’re not the only residents.
  25. While lying in bed on Halloween night, a child hears footsteps coming up the stairs, slowly getting closer and closer to their room.
  26. During a power outage on Halloween night, someone starts knocking on all the doors in an apartment complex.
  27. While setting up for their annual Halloween party, two friends discover that they’re being watched by something lurking in the shadows.

18 Haunted House Horror Prompts

The haunted house trope never gets old, no matter how often it’s been done. A home is supposed to be a safe environment, so when horror strikes, it’s terrifying. A haunted house is a way to go if you’re looking for a classic horror story setting.

  1. A family moves into a new home, only to find that the ghost of a previous occupant haunts it.
  2. A woman is haunted by nightmares of a mysterious figure intent on harming her family.
  3. A young couple moves into a fixer-upper, only to discover that the house is haunted by the vengeful spirit of a previous owner.
  4. A group of friends spends the night in a haunted house as part of a dare, only to find that the haunting is all too real.
  5. A family moves into a new home and discovers that a malicious ghost already occupies it.
  6. A woman begins to suspect that a demon possesses her husband after she finds strange symbols etched into the walls of their home.
  7. A young girl is tormented by a ghost that seems to be trying to tell her something.
  8. A family moves into a new home and discovers it is connected to a demonic realm through an otherworldly portal.
  9. A woman is pregnant with twins but starts to worry that one of them may be possessed by a demon.
  10. An unsuspecting family moves into a home with a dark secret: it was once the site of brutal murders committed by the owner’s son.
  11. A mother starts to worry that a demonic entity is possessing her daughter after she finds strange scratch marks on her body.
  12. A woman begins to suspect her husband may be cheating on her when she sees another woman’s reflection in mirrors around their home.
  13. A couple’s marriage is tested when they move into a new home and discover that it may be haunted.
  14. A woman discovers that she can see ghosts after she moves into a new home.
  15. A man starts hearing strange noises coming from the attic of his new home.
  16. A woman becomes convinced that her son is communicating with demons after he starts speaking in tongues and exhibiting other strange behaviors.
  17. A woman discovers that her new home was once the scene of grisly murders after she finds evidence hidden in the walls.
  18. A young couple moves into their first home together and quickly realizes they are not alone; someone or something else is living in the house with them.

17 Paranormal Activity Horror Prompts

  1. A group of friends go on a camping trip in the woods and start getting picked off by a creature that may or may not be human.
  2. A woman is haunted by a ghost trying to tell her something.
  3. A woman finds out that a demon possesses her son.
  4. A family goes on vacation to a remote cabin in the woods and starts experiencing strange things around them.
  5. An evil witch casts a spell on a small town causing everyone to turn into animals overnight.
  6. A family moves into a new house only to find out that ghosts already occupy it.
  7. A woman discovers that she has supernatural powers and must use them to stop an evil force from taking over the world.
  8. A group of friends starts being targeted by a serial killer who seems to know all their deepest, darkest secrets.
  9. A girl with psychic abilities foresees her death but cannot prevent it from happening.
  10. Two girls discover they are witches and must use their powers to battle an evil sorcerer.
  11. A family is haunted by the ghost of their deceased child, who died in a tragic accident.
  12. A mother becomes possessed by a demon and starts harming her own family.
  13. An exorcism goes wrong, releasing demons into the world.
  14. Angels begin descending from heaven, but they are not friendly.
  15. The four horsemen of the apocalypse ride into town, bringing death and destruction with them.
  16. People start spontaneously combusting for no apparent reason.
  17. Possessions become rampant as people become possessed by demons.

10 Plot Twists for Horror Stories

What makes a good horror story? Is it the suspenseful build-up, the scares, or the twists? We think it’s a combination of all three. And when it comes to twists, there’s nothing quite like a good plot twist to send your readers’ hearts racing.

  1. The protagonist wakes up to find that they’re trapped in a never-ending nightmare.
  2. The villain is revealed to be the protagonist’s long-lost twin sister.
  3. The monster is an alien from another planet.
  4. The ghosts are time-travelers from the future who are trying to prevent a disaster from happening.
  5. It turns out that the protagonist is the reincarnation of the villain.
  6. The protagonist discovers that they have psychic abilities and have seen visions of future murders all along.
  7. The small town where the story is set is revealed as a portal to Hades.
  8. The killer is revealed to be an evil doll that comes to life at night.
  9. It turns out that the protagonist is dead and has been stuck in purgatory this whole time.
  10. The final twist is that the reader is the killer all along!

The Structure of a Great Horror Story

A horror story is, at its core, a story about fear. It’s designed to scare the reader, to get their heart racing and their blood pumping. But to do that effectively, a horror story needs to be well-structured. Here are the key elements of a successful horror story.

The Hook

The first and most important element of a horror story is the hook. This is what will grab the reader’s attention and persuade them to keep reading. The hook should be scary, but it shouldn’t give too much away-you want to leave the reader wanting more.

The Buildup

Once you’ve hooked the reader, it’s time to start building the tension. This is usually done through suspenseful writing and creepy description. Remember to keep things vague-you don’t want to give away too much too soon. The goal is to keep the reader guessing until the end.

The Scare

Eventually, you’ll have to give the reader a good scare. This is where all your build-up pays off. The scare should be shocking and unexpected, but it must also make sense within the story’s context. A sudden jump scare might be effective in the moment, but if it doesn’t make sense in the story’s larger context, it will just end up feeling cheap and manipulative.

The Resolution

Once you’ve given the reader a good scare, it’s time to start wrapping things up. The resolution should provide some answers for the reader. Still, it shouldn’t tie everything up in a neat little bow-a bit of ambiguity can leave the reader unsettled long after they’ve finished reading.

A horror story is a daunting undertaking for any writer-but with these simple tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a truly terrifying tale. Just remember: keep things vague, focus on building tension, and don’t be afraid to go for the jugular when it comes time to write that big scary scene. Happy writing!

The Potential Weakness of a Horror Story

A horror story is only as good as its ability to scare the reader. If a story fails to frighten, its purpose has failed. However, there is such a thing as being too scary. If a story is so horrifying that it turns the reader away, it has failed. So, how does a writer strike the perfect balance?

The first step is to understand what scares people. This will differ from person to person, so it’s important to do your research. Are you writing for an audience who loves being scared out of their wits? Or are you writing for an audience who enjoys more subtle scares? Once you know your audience, you can begin to craft your story accordingly.

It’s also important to remember that not all scares have to be based on blood and gore. Sometimes, the scariest stories are the ones that prey on our deepest fears. For example, a story about a mother who loses her child in a store would be much more terrifying than one where a monster kills someone.

Another potential weakness of a horror story is that it can often be predictable. The best way to avoid this is to subvert the reader’s expectations. They take them in a completely different direction when they think they know what will happen next. This will not only keep them guessing but also ensure they’re always on their toes.

A horror story can only be successful if it finds the perfect balance between being too scary and not scary enough. Understanding what terrifies your audience is the first step in achieving this goal. From there, you need to ensure that your story keeps them guessing until the end. By following these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to writing a horror story that will leave your readers truly terrified.

What Are Common Horror Writing Themes

The Supernatural

One of the most classic horror themes is the supernatural. This can take many forms, from ghosts and vampires to witches and zombies. All these creatures have in common is that they strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest men and women. If you want to write a truly spine-chilling story, consider making the supernatural an integral part of your plot.

Serial Killers

Another popular theme in horror is the serial killer. This type of character is usually driven by mental illness, making them even more dangerous and unpredictable. Often, serial killers will target a specific type of victim, making their crimes all the more personal for the reader. If you’re looking to write a gruesome tale, consider making a serial killer the main antagonist of your story.


Isolation is a powerful tool for any writer, but it’s especially effective in horror stories. When your characters are cut off from the rest of the world, whether by choice or circumstance, it provides an opportunity for things to go very wrong very quickly. If you want to ramp up the suspense in your story, consider having your characters face their fears alone.

The Apocalypse

The apocalypse is another classic horror theme. Whether it’s a zombie apocalypse or an environmental disaster, there’s something inherently terrifying about watching civilization crumble before your eyes. If you want to write a truly harrowing tale, consider setting your story during or after the world’s end.

Body Horror

Body horror is a type of horror that focuses on gore and Mutations rather than scares and suspense . . . although it can certainly have both! This type of story is usually more graphic than other types of horror, so it’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re looking to write a truly gruesome tale, body horror may be just what you’re looking for.

These are just five of the most common themes and tropes in horror fiction . . . but they’re far from being the only ones! Whether you play off one of these themes or come up with something completely original, remember that the most important thing is to write what YOU enjoy reading.

What Makes a Character Terrifying

To create a truly terrifying character, you must ensure they’re well-rounded and believable. They need to be three-dimensional, with hopes, dreams, and flaws like any other human being. However, one key difference between a regular person and a truly terrifying character is their motives. While regular people might have good or bad intentions, terrifying characters always have malevolent motives. Here are some things to remember when creating a scary character for your latest horror story.

What Do They Want?

First and foremost, what does your character want? Their goal should be something sinister, something that will cause harm to others. It could be as simple as wanting to cause pain or as complicated as wanting to take over the world. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will send chills down your reader’s spine.

How Far Will They Go?

Secondly, how far will they go to get what they want? Will they kill? Torture? Maim? There’s no wrong answer here, but the more gruesome their methods are, the more scared your readers will be. Think about movie villains like Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers; they’re so terrifying because they have no qualms about inflicting pain on others. Your character should be the same way.

What Makes Them Tick?

Once you know what your character wants and how far they’ll go to get it, you need to figure out why they want those things. What drove them to this point? Was it a tragic event from their past? A dark secret they’re keeping hidden? By understanding what motivates them, you can create a truly believable-and truly terrifying character.

Remember, anyone can be scary if you give them enough motivation. So get creative, dig deep, and let your imagination run wild. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to create a horror story that will have your readers sleep with the lights on for weeks.

Fate and Coincidence in Horror Story Writing

As a horror writer, you know that one thing that makes your stories so spine-tingling is the element of fate and coincidence. When everything seems to be going wrong for your characters, and they can’t catch a break, readers can’t help but feel a sense of dread. But how do you ensure that your story’s coincidences are believable and not just contrived? Here are a few tips to integrate the two into your story idea.

The first thing to remember is that not all coincidences need to be explained. Sometimes it’s better if they’re not. If everything in your story is specifically tied together, it can feel forced and unbelievable. Mystery can go a long way in making your spooky story more suspenseful.

That being said, certain types of coincidences should be avoided altogether. For example, if two characters who have never met before just happen to run into each other on the street, that’s probably not going to sit well with your readers. Or if a character discovers something important just by happenstance rather than through their efforts, that can feel like cheating.

Generally, the best way to avoid contrived coincidences is to ensure that every event in your story serves a purpose. Ask yourself why this particular thing is happening and how it will affect the characters and the plot. If you can’t come up with a good answer, then maybe it’s time to rethink that scene.

By following these tips, you can make sure that the coincidences in your story are believable and add to the suspense rather than taking away from it. Keep things mysterious, but make sure everything serves a purpose. With a little bit of effort, you can create some truly spine-tingling horror stories that your readers won’t soon forget!