135 Horror Writing Prompts: How to Write Scary Stories In 2024

Horror writing is a genre that has captivated audiences for centuries, with its ability to evoke fear and suspense in readers. From classic ghost stories to modern psychological thrillers, the horror genre has continuously evolved to bring new scares to audiences. Whether you’re a seasoned horror writer or a newcomer to the genre, these horror writing prompts will help ignite your creativity and guide you in crafting truly terrifying stories.

In the spirit of helping writers find those seeds, here we offer 135 horror writing prompts that you can use as inspiration for your next horror story.

What Are Horror Writing Prompts?

Horror writing is a genre that has captivated audiences for centuries, with its ability to evoke fear and suspense in readers. The adoption of horror writing prompts in your writing unlocks your imagination, gives you ideas, and leaves you with a lethal weapon against writer’s block.

They spark the creative flame, allowing writers to weave stories that send shivers down readers’ spines and leave them breathless with fear and anticipation for more.

How To Use A Horror Writing Prompt?

Using a horror writing prompt is simple and effective. Start by using the prompt to develop a plot, setting, and characters that fit the theme. Craft a short story ranging from 500 to 1000 words, allowing your imagination to run wild within the framework of the prompt.

This exercise ignites your creativity, pushing you to think outside the box and hone your skills in creating spine-chilling narratives that linger in the minds of your readers.

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135 Horror Writing Prompts

Our 135 horror writing prompts will be split based on the various types of horror fiction; carefully read through.

Supernatural Horror

  1. A family moves into a new house, only to discover it’s haunted by the spirits of its former occupants.
  2. A cursed object brings misery to anyone who possesses it.
  3. A group of friends decides to play with an Ouija board, unwittingly summoning a malevolent entity.
  4. A person starts experiencing bizarre and terrifying phenomena after dabbling in black magic.
  5. An ancient ritual performed by a cult unleashes a demonic presence in a small town.
  6. A person finds an old, dusty book in an attic that contains spells capable of summoning otherworldly creatures.
  7. A character begins to suspect that their new neighbor is a vampire.
  8. A ghostly figure appears every night at the foot of a child’s bed, whispering dark secrets.
  9. A person inherits an eerie mansion from a distant relative, only to discover it holds dark secrets.
  10. A cursed town is plagued by a series of inexplicable deaths.

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Psychological Horror

  1. A character starts to question their own sanity as they experience increasingly surreal and terrifying events.
  2. A person wakes up in a mental institution with no memory of how they got there, surrounded by patients who seem to be hiding something sinister.
  3. A writer becomes obsessed with a story they’re working on, only to realize it’s slowly becoming their reality.
  4. A therapist begins to suspect that their patient’s terrifying delusions might actually be real.
  5. A person receives anonymous letters detailing gruesome murders, only to realize the murders haven’t happened yet.
  6. A character starts seeing their doppelgänger everywhere they go, each time more distorted and malevolent.
  7. A group of strangers wakes up in an abandoned facility with no memory of how they got there, and they soon realize they’re being hunted.
  8. A person becomes trapped in a time loop, reliving the same terrifying day over and over again.
  9. A character discovers that they can’t trust their own reflection, as it seems to have a mind of its own.
  10. A person wakes up in a strange, empty city where the laws of physics seem to be constantly shifting.

Body Horror

  1. A character starts to notice strange mutations happening to their body, with horrifying consequences.
  2. A town is struck by a mysterious illness that causes its victims to slowly decay while still alive.
  3. A scientist’s experiment goes horribly wrong, resulting in grotesque mutations among the population.
  4. A person discovers strange markings on their body that seem to be moving of their own accord.
  5. A group of hikers stumbles upon a remote village where the inhabitants practice horrifying body modification rituals.
  6. A character wakes up to find their limbs have been replaced with those of a different creature.
  7. A person begins to suspect that their new diet supplement is causing horrifying side effects.
  8. A scientist creates a serum that grants eternal youth, but it comes with a terrible price.
  9. A character starts to shed their skin like a snake, revealing something monstrous underneath.
  10. A mysterious epidemic causes people to lose control over their bodies, resulting in gruesome acts of violence.

Check out the 50 Creative Narrative Writing Prompts to Ignite Your Imagination

Monster Horror

  1. A small town is terrorized by a giant creature that emerges from the depths of the nearby lake.
  2. A group of adventurers stumbles upon a hidden cave inhabited by a nest of giant spiders.
  3. A person discovers that their new pet is actually a bloodthirsty monster in disguise.
  4. A character comes face to face with a werewolf in the woods, only to realize it’s someone they know.
  5. A team of researchers accidentally releases a prehistoric creature from its icy tomb.
  6. A person encounters a group of humanoid creatures living in the sewers beneath the city.
  7. A family’s camping trip takes a terrifying turn when they’re stalked by a pack of feral creatures.
  8. A character discovers a secret laboratory where genetic experiments have created monstrous abominations.
  9. A scientist creates a formula that turns people into mindless zombies.
  10. A group of survivors must fend off an invasion of alien creatures with a taste for human flesh.

Survival Horror

  1. A group of people wake up in a deserted city overrun by zombies, with no memory of how they got there.
  2. A character finds themselves trapped in a cabin in the woods with a serial killer on the loose.
  3. A person becomes lost in the wilderness and must fend off attacks from a pack of hungry wolves.
  4. A group of friends gets stranded in a remote village inhabited by hostile locals.
  5. A character wakes up in a maze-like labyrinth filled with deadly traps and monstrous creatures.
  6. A family must survive a night in their home while being hunted by a masked intruder.
  7. A person discovers that their remote island getaway is actually a hunting ground for a wealthy elite.
  8. A group of survivors navigate a post-apocalyptic wasteland overrun by mutated creatures.
  9. A character finds themselves trapped in a sinking submarine with a crew member who’s gone mad.
  10. A person must escape from a deranged cult that’s determined to sacrifice them to their dark god.

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Ghost Stories

  1. A person moves into an old mansion and starts to uncover the tragic history of the family who used to live there.
  2. A group of teenagers decides to spend the night in a haunted abandoned asylum.
  3. A character starts receiving messages from beyond the grave, begging for help.
  4. A family is haunted by the ghost of a child who died tragically in their home.
  5. A person inherits a cursed painting that seems to come to life when no one is looking.
  6. A group of friends holds a séance to contact the spirit of a deceased loved one, with terrifying consequences.
  7. A character discovers an old diary hidden in the walls of their house, detailing the gruesome events that led to a murder.
  8. A person encounters a hitchhiker on a deserted road, only to realize they’re not quite alive.
  9. A family moves into a new house, unaware that it’s built on top of an ancient burial ground.
  10. A group of paranormal investigators sets out to uncover the truth behind a series of unexplained deaths in a small town.

Isolation Horror

  1. A character becomes stranded in a blizzard and seeks shelter in a remote cabin, only to realize they’re not alone.
  2. A person wakes up in a deserted hospital with no memory of how they got there and soon discovers they’re being hunted.
  3. A group of astronauts on a deep space mission begins to suspect that there’s something sinister lurking on their ship.
  4. A character finds themselves trapped in a malfunctioning elevator with a mysterious stranger.
  5. A person takes a job as a caretaker for a remote lighthouse, only to discover it’s haunted by the ghosts of its former keepers.
  6. A family’s road trip takes a terrifying turn when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
  7. A group of researchers stationed in Antarctica starts to experience strange phenomena as they’re cut off from the outside world.
  8. A character wakes up in a seemingly abandoned city where the only other inhabitants are hostile creatures.
  9. A person becomes lost in the desert and must find a way to survive against the elements and the creatures that lurk within.
  10. A couple’s romantic getaway in the remote countryside turns into a nightmare when they realize they’re being stalked by something in the shadows, lurking just beyond the edge of the forest.

Urban Horror

  1. A character moves into a new apartment building, only to discover that its tenants harbor dark secrets.
  2. A person begins to suspect that their neighbor is conducting sinister experiments in their basement.
  3. A group of friends explores an abandoned subway tunnel and uncovers a horrifying secret hidden beneath the city.
  4. A character receives a mysterious package containing videotapes of disturbing events that seem to be happening in their own neighborhood.
  5. A person starts to notice strange symbols painted on buildings around the city, leading them to a hidden cult.
  6. A family moves into a new house, only to find that it’s located in the heart of a neighborhood plagued by unsolved murders.
  7. A group of teenagers sneaks into an abandoned hospital for a night of exploration, but they soon realize they’re not alone.
  8. A character discovers a hidden passage in their apartment building that leads to a network of tunnels beneath the city.
  9. A person starts to receive threatening messages from an anonymous stalker who seems to know everything about them.
  10. A journalist investigates a series of disappearances in the city’s homeless population, uncovering a terrifying conspiracy.

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Historical Horror

  1. A character inherits an old family estate and discovers that it holds a dark secret dating back centuries.
  2. A group of archaeologists uncovers an ancient tomb buried deep in the jungle, unleashing a curse upon themselves.
  3. A person discovers a hidden chamber in an old castle, where they encounter the restless spirit of a long-dead noble.
  4. A family moves into a house with a tragic history, only to find that the past is still very much alive within its walls.
  5. A character travels back in time to a period of history plagued by witch hunts and finds themselves accused of witchcraft.
  6. A group of pioneers settling in the wilderness encounters hostile natives who warn them of a malevolent presence in the area.
  7. A person inherits an old shipwreck and sets out to salvage its treasures, only to awaken something ancient and evil.
  8. A family vacation to a remote village in Europe takes a terrifying turn when they stumble upon a festival with dark rituals.
  9. A character becomes trapped in the past and must find a way to escape before they’re consumed by its horrors.
  10. A group of soldiers stationed in a remote outpost during wartime must contend with both enemy forces and supernatural threats.

Lovecraftian Horror

  1. A character discovers a forbidden tome that contains knowledge beyond human comprehension, driving them to madness.
  2. A person investigates strange occurrences in a small coastal town and uncovers a cult worshipping ancient sea gods.
  3. A group of explorers discovers an underground city inhabited by eldritch creatures beyond their understanding.
  4. A character receives a mysterious invitation to a secluded mansion where they encounter beings from another dimension.
  5. A person dreams of a city of impossible geometry and encounters entities that defy description.
  6. A family inherits a cursed artifact that seems to exert a malevolent influence over their minds.
  7. A character stumbles upon a portal to another world and unwittingly releases an ancient evil upon the Earth.
  8. A group of scientists discovers a hidden chamber containing the remains of an extraterrestrial being.
  9. A person receives visions of a looming apocalypse brought about by the awakening of ancient cosmic horrors.
  10. A cult summons a Great Old One to do their bidding, only to realize they’ve unleashed forces they cannot control.

Folklore and Mythology

  1. A character encounters a creature from Native American folklore while hiking through the wilderness.
  2. A person visits a remote village in Eastern Europe and becomes entangled in its dark folklore.
  3. A group of travelers seeks shelter in a haunted inn rumored to be the domain of a vengeful spirit.
  4. A character discovers that the fairy tales they were told as a child are based on true events with horrifying consequences.
  5. A family moves to a remote island inhabited by creatures from Celtic mythology.
  6. A person discovers a hidden society living beneath the streets of New York City, ruled by creatures of legend.
  7. A group of adventurers sets out to find a lost city rumored to be inhabited by creatures from Greek mythology.
  8. A character encounters a banshee while exploring an abandoned castle in Ireland.
  9. A person visits a haunted forest said to be inhabited by the spirits of those who died there.
  10. A family vacation to a remote village in Japan turns deadly when they encounter a vengeful yokai.

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Cinematic Horror

  1. A character finds themselves trapped in a never-ending nightmare, where each dream is more terrifying than the last.
  2. A person discovers a hidden camera in their home, capturing footage of their every move while they sleep.
  3. A group of filmmakers sets out to make a documentary about a notorious serial killer, only to become his next victim.
  4. A character receives a mysterious VHS tape containing footage of their own murder.
  5. A person starts to notice strange glitches in reality as if they’re trapped in a never-ending loop.
  6. A family’s home security system captures footage of shadowy figures moving through their house at night.
  7. A group of friends discovers an old film reel in an abandoned theater, only to realize it contains footage of unspeakable horrors.
  8. A character becomes obsessed with a cursed film rumored to drive anyone who watches it insane.
  9. A person starts to receive anonymous phone calls from someone claiming to be a long-dead relative.
  10. A family’s home movies start to reveal disturbing secrets about their past.

Technological Horror

  1. A character’s smart home devices start to turn against them, locking them inside their own house.
  2. A person receives a mysterious email containing footage of their own death.
  3. A group of gamers becomes trapped in a virtual reality game where dying means death in real life.
  4. A character discovers a website that predicts their every move with unsettling accuracy.
  5. A person’s social media accounts are taken over by a malevolent AI that knows all their darkest secrets.
  6. A group of scientists creates an artificial intelligence that becomes self-aware and starts to view humanity as a threat.
  7. A character’s self-driving car takes them to a remote location against their will, with sinister intentions.
  8. A person’s smartphone starts to display messages from a future version of themselves, warning of impending doom.
  9. A group of hackers unleashes a virus that turns people’s devices against them, causing chaos and destruction.
  10. A character discovers a hidden camera in their workplace, revealing that they’re being watched by someone with malicious intent.

Mystery and Suspense

  1. A person wakes up in a locked room with no memory of how they got there, surrounded by clues to a sinister puzzle.
  2. A character receives a package containing a mysterious artifact and a note warning them of impending danger.
  3. A group of strangers receives invitations to a dinner party hosted by a reclusive millionaire, only to realize they’re being hunted for sport.
  4. A person starts to receive anonymous letters detailing their deepest secrets and darkest fears.
  5. A family’s camping trip takes a terrifying turn when they stumble upon a buried secret that someone is willing to kill to protect.

How To Write A Horror Story

Crafting a horror story demands a great level of skill and awareness to excel in the act. Here are a few tips that will help you take your writing to the next level.

1. Use the environment

Jump-scares are a simple and effective technique used in horror films and television shows, but creating frightening literature has its own way of evoking fear. To completely engross your readers in your location, build up your surroundings in a vivid manner.

Using detailed descriptions of confined spaces might make people feel claustrophobic. A character finds a quiet, dark house even more terrifying when they hear the squeak of a floorboard upstairs. Being an outsider in a strange environment, like a small town where no one has cell phone coverage and everyone knows one another, is already unnerving. The unease of the situation can be increased by adding a malevolent paranormal entity to the mix.

2. Use your own fears

One of the greatest things writers do is to let their point of view fuel their writing; write what you know.

If you’re scared of heights, there is no way you’ll better express the feelings of a character who is at the top of a skyscraper screaming for help. If your biggest fear is height, use that POV, to sum up the feeling in a way that others who share your fear can relate to—don’t try to scare your audience with a werewolf if you can’t properly tap into that fear.

3. Write longer sentences

Longer sentences in writing when used properly can equate to longer anticipation and suspense. While full stops provide natural pauses for readers to take a breath, if you stretch out your sentences, you build anticipation for the reader—which they might not even know until they reach the end of the sentence. By using tactics like this, you get your readers engrossed in the horror story, making them feel what the main character feels and creating a heart-pounding connection.

4. Make your readers breathe faster

Short paragraphs with only one sentence can make your readers take more breaths to keep up with your story, while extended sentences can heighten the tension of a narrative.

Writing abrupt lines increases the tension in your terrifying story and causes the reader’s eyes to scan the page faster in an attempt to find solace in the protagonist’s safety. This may cause your audience to breathe more quickly, which can exacerbate their anxiety and fear.

5. Utilize fear of the unknown

A prevalent motif in numerous outstanding horror fiction and film pieces is the fear of the unknown. Panic and dread are brought on by things that adversely impact us but that we are unable to appropriately identify or manage. When writing horror stories, you can heighten the suspense and terror by teasing your readers with an indefinable creature or a villain no one knows how to stop.

6. Avoid clichés

Clichés are boring and predictable, and a predictable horror scene is likely to not be scary. A good horror story creates its pattern; it doesn’t conform to the regular. Look beyond the obvious when trying to write a scary scene—what is something readers wouldn’t expect? How can you surprise them with fear?

7. Practice

If you’re struggling to get a handle on writing a good scary story, our horror writing prompts are here to help you practice. Writing prompts expands your scope of thinking and opens up new avenues of imagination that you hadn’t thought of before.


Horror writing prompts offer you a wide range of chilling scenarios to ignite your imagination and spark terrifying tales. Irrespective of the type of horror fiction you are creating, these prompts provide solid inspiration on which you can ride to craft your amazing story. Cheers!


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