Horror Writing Prompts

Welcome to the shadowy corridors of imagination where every turn could reveal a new terror or a twisted mystery waiting to be unraveled. In this blog post, we delve deep into the realm of horror, offering writers, storytellers, and the creatively curious a collection of horror writing prompts designed to ignite the embers of dark creativity. Whether you're a seasoned author of the macabre or a novice looking to dip your toes into the genre, our curated prompts span from eerie story starters to chilling character sketches, dialogues that whisper secrets of the night, settings that unsettle the soul, thematic ideas that probe the darkness, intricate plots that weave terror, and haunting images that inspire. Plus, we've included answers to frequently asked questions about horror writing and a conclusion to guide your next steps. Embrace the unknown, and let these prompts guide you into the depths of your imagination.

Story Starters

Stepping into the world of horror writing is akin to crossing the threshold into a realm of shadows and screams, a domain where the ordinary meets the extraordinary in the most terrifying ways. Below are story starters crafted to awaken the specter of fear, providing a canvas for narratives that stretch the boundaries of imagination. From haunted dwellings to the sinister whispers of the unknown, these prompts serve as a beacon for tales that intertwine the fabric of horror with the essence of suspense, mystery, and the unexplored corners of the mind.

  • In a seemingly tranquil village shrouded in fog, a newcomer uncovers an ancient curse that befalls the town every century, bringing to life the nightmares of its inhabitants.
  • During a late-night exploration of an abandoned asylum, a group of friends encounters more than just echoes of the past, triggering a series of events that could unleash an unspeakable evil.
  • A reclusive author finds their latest horror novel coming to life, as one by one, their creations begin to haunt them, blurring the lines between fiction and reality.
  • On the eve of an eclipse, a family moves into a house with a dark history, only to find themselves in the middle of a battle between ancient spirits vying for control.
  • After inheriting an old, dusty bookshop, a skeptic discovers a collection of cursed books that can alter reality, drawing them into a world of dark magic and demonic pacts.
  • An experimental sleep study turns nightmarish when participants start experiencing shared dreams that predict their darkest fears becoming reality.
  • In a post-apocalyptic world, a band of survivors faces a new threat from the shadows, more terrifying than the disaster that wiped out most of humanity.
  • While restoring a centuries-old painting, an artist unwittingly releases a malevolent spirit trapped within the canvas, setting off a series of hauntings that reveal hidden tragedies.
  • A podcast exploring urban legends becomes too real when the host discovers a story that may hold the key to unraveling a sinister conspiracy, one that could endanger their very soul.
  • A small coastal town, renowned for its ghost tours, encounters a real horror from the deep, awakening an ancient entity with a thirst for vengeance.

Each story starter opens a door to the unknown, inviting writers to step through and explore the depths of terror, the psychological twists of fear, and the eerie allure of the supernatural. Let these prompts guide you through the darkness, as you craft tales that chill the spine and captivate the imagination.

Character Prompts

At the core of every haunting horror tale are characters who not only stir our fears but also evoke empathy—figures who navigate through darkness, both literal and metaphorical, to reveal the chilling truths about themselves and the world around them. From the unwitting protagonist to the shadowy antagonist, these prompts are designed to infuse your horror stories with individuals whose encounters with the supernatural or the inexplicably macabre challenge their sanity, morality, and will to survive. They offer a foundation for characters whose stories are woven with tension, dread, and the inevitable confrontation with the unknown.

  • An antiquarian book dealer who comes across a volume that is said to be bound in human skin, only to find themselves haunted by the spirit of the book's previous owner, seeking to reclaim what was once theirs.
  • A paranormal investigator who, after years of debunking myths, faces a genuine encounter with the otherworldly that tests their skepticism and forces them to confront their own fears.
  • A grief-stricken individual who resorts to necromancy to speak with a lost loved one, only to unleash a series of events that blur the lines between life and death.
  • A lighthouse keeper on a remote island who discovers a washed-up artefact that awakens an ancient maritime horror, challenging their isolation and sanity.
  • An urban explorer who ventures into an abandoned asylum and becomes trapped with the entity of a former patient, whose tragic history reveals dark secrets about the institution.
  • A child with the ability to see ghosts who tries to help spirits find peace, but encounters a malevolent entity with sinister plans for the living and the dead.
  • A skeptical scientist researching the phenomenon of sleep paralysis who becomes afflicted by the condition, experiencing night terrors that suggest a horrifying reality beyond science.
  • A horror novelist experiencing writer’s block who rents a secluded cabin for inspiration, only to find themselves living in a narrative far more terrifying than anything they could write.
  • A photographer obsessed with capturing images of abandoned places who stumbles upon a scene that suggests a ritualistic sacrifice, becoming the target of a cult that believes in the power of death to bring about a new world order.
  • An archivist working in a historic library who uncovers a medieval manuscript that describes a ritual for immortality, and begins to witness its ghastly subjects appearing in their life, questioning reality and their own desires.

These character prompts invite the weaving of complex tales that delve deep into the psyche of individuals confronted with the inexplicable and the supernatural. They challenge writers to create narratives that not only terrify but also probe the depths of human resilience, curiosity, and the dark corners of the soul.

Dialogue Prompts

In the echoing halls of horror, dialogue serves as the whisper in the dark that can turn an ordinary moment into an encounter with fear. Crafted dialogue not only drives the chilling atmosphere but also peels away the layers of story, character, and the unseen, revealing the truths that lie in the shadows. Set within haunted houses, fog-laden graveyards, or the deceptive calm before a supernatural storm, these dialogue prompts are designed to inspire moments of dread, secrets unveiled, and decisions made in desperation. Whether it's a haunting confession or a warning from beyond, these snippets are the kindling for stories that simmer with tension and terror.

  • "Do you hear them too? The voices that whisper from the walls at night?"
  • "We thought it was just a legend, but what if the legend is hunting us now?"
  • "I've seen what lurks in the shadows, and I promise you, it's not just your imagination."
  • "Why did you bring it here? Don't you know some doors, once opened, can never be closed?"
  • "They say this place is cursed, but what we found is far worse than any curse."
  • "I don't believe in ghosts, but after tonight... How can I not?"
  • "What if the monster we're running from isn't out there, but inside one of us?"
  • "This isn't just about survival anymore. It's about facing our deepest fears."
  • "You think you're the hunter, but in these woods, you're the prey."
  • "I love you, which is why I need to leave before it comes for me... and then for you."

Let these dialogue prompts be the lantern that guides you through the fog of storytelling, illuminating paths to explore the depths of horror, the nuances of fear, and the power of words spoken in the face of the unknown. Employ these dialogues to craft narratives that ensnare the reader's imagination, compelling them to listen for the whispers in the dark, long after the tale has ended.

Setting Prompts

The stage for a horror story is far more than just a backdrop; it is an entity that breathes, a silent narrator that weaves dread and foreboding into the fabric of the tale. From the creaking floors of abandoned mansions to the oppressive silence of a fog-bound moor, the setting in a horror story shapes the narrative's essence, mood, and the unfolding of its darkest secrets. These prompts are designed to inspire settings that are alive with suspense, where every shadow may conceal a nightmare, and every location holds the potential for horror beyond comprehension.

  • An ancient cemetery forgotten by time, where the boundary between the living and the dead blurs during the witching hour, revealing secrets meant to stay buried.
  • A decrepit Victorian mansion inherited by an unsuspecting family, its walls whispering tales of tragedy and haunting, urging them to uncover its grim past before it's too late.
  • A secluded cabin in the woods, where isolation turns to terror as the inhabitants realize the forest conceals a predatory presence that watches, waits, and wants.
  • An abandoned underground subway system, its dark tunnels a maze hiding the remnants of a society that vanished under mysterious circumstances.
  • A small coastal town enveloped by a dense, never-lifting fog, where the tide brings in more than just the sea's dead, and the lighthouse guards a horrifying secret.
  • A gothic castle perched atop a cliff, its history steeped in blood and betrayal, now home to something that stalks its corridors, longing for new victims to roam its vast, empty halls.
  • A once-bustling hospital, now shuttered and silent, where the echoes of its past patients can still be heard crying out in the night, as something unseen moves through its abandoned wards.
  • An eerie swamp that locals avoid, where the water holds more than reflections, hiding creatures born of nightmare and folklore, and whispers of a curse that haunts its murky depths.
  • A desolate, snow-covered village at the edge of the world, where the cold isn't the only thing that bites, and the aurora borealis illuminate horrors that prey in the perpetual night.
  • A sprawling manor with an elaborate hedge maze, where every turn leads deeper into a metaphysical puzzle, trapping visitors in a game of survival against a malevolent force that feeds on fear.

These setting prompts invite you to craft worlds where the very environment teems with suspense and terror, challenging you to create narratives where the setting itself is a character—a character that holds the keys to unlocking the horror and mystery of your story.

Theme Prompts

In the shadowed corners of horror, themes weave through the tapestry of tales like threads of darkness, binding stories to the deeper, often unsettling questions of existence, mortality, and the essence of fear itself. These themes elevate horror narratives from mere moments of fright to profound explorations of the human condition, confronting readers with the paradoxes of life, death, and the unknown. They compel writers to venture beyond the surface scares, delving into the emotional and psychological depths of their characters, and to reflect on the nature of evil, the inevitability of fate, and the struggle for understanding in a world filled with shadows.

  • Explore the erosion of sanity in a character who faces horrors that challenge the boundaries of reality, delving into themes of perception, madness, and the fragile construct of the human mind.
  • Imagine a narrative where characters confront the manifestations of their own guilt and fears, a journey through psychological horror that questions the strength of conscience and the ghost of past deeds.
  • Delve into a post-apocalyptic setting that examines the remnants of humanity struggling for survival, exploring themes of hope, desolation, and the innate human instinct to find light in the darkest times.
  • Consider the moral quandaries of a society that dabbles in forbidden knowledge or necromancy, pondering the ethical limits of human curiosity and the price of meddling with the unknown.
  • Examine the impact of isolation on the human psyche through a story set in a claustrophobic setting, where characters must confront not only external terrors but also the demons within.
  • Challenge notions of identity and self through a narrative involving body horror, transformation, or possession, highlighting themes of alienation, the fear of the other, and the loss of self.
  • Address themes of familial bonds and ancestral curses, exploring how the sins of the past haunt the present, and the lengths to which individuals will go to break free from their destined fates.
  • Investigate the dichotomy between the natural and the supernatural, delving into themes of environmental horror, where nature itself becomes a malevolent force reflecting humanity's abuse of the earth.
  • Uncover the depths of obsession in a tale of a character consumed by a quest for knowledge or power from beyond, probing themes of ambition, sacrifice, and the ultimate cost of hubris.
  • Analyze the transformation of a protagonist from victim to survivor in a story of resilience against unspeakable evil, questioning the nature of strength and the human capacity to overcome darkness.

These theme prompts serve as a foundation for horror stories that transcend the conventional, inviting writers to craft narratives that not only provoke fear but also provoke thought, offering readers a lens through which to examine the darker aspects of life and the enduring spirit of humanity amidst the horrors that lurk in the shadows.

Plot Prompts

The pulse of a horror story thrives on the suspense of events that ensnare characters in a labyrinth of fear, challenging their grasp on reality, and testing their will to survive against malevolent forces. These plot prompts lay the groundwork for tales that navigate the dark corridors of the human psyche, through hauntings, curses, and the unspeakable horrors that lurk just out of sight. From the awakening of ancient evils to the personal demons that stalk our every move, these plots are primed to be fleshed into narratives that resonate with the primal fear of the unknown.

  • A series of inexplicable disappearances in a small town leads a determined journalist to discover a cult that worships an ancient deity, forcing them to stop the ritual before it's completed.
  • An inherited old mansion hides a diary that reveals the history of witch trials in the family, drawing the new owner into a battle against a curse that has plagued their lineage for generations.
  • During a routine excavation, archaeologists unearth a crypt that should have remained sealed, releasing a plague that has its roots in biblical prophecy, setting off a race against time to contain it.
  • A paranormal investigator looking into a series of hauntings at a prestigious university uncovers a secret society that uses the supernatural to control fate, challenging them to confront the true nature of power and fear.
  • A group of friends on a camping trip finds an ancient artifact in the woods, unwittingly becoming the focus of a creature’s hunt, as they struggle to survive the night and break the artifact's curse.
  • An urban legend about a mirror that shows your death becomes terrifyingly real for a group of teenagers who must unravel the mirror's origins to stop their fated demises from becoming reality.
  • After moving into a seemingly idyllic neighborhood, a family discovers their home is the axis of strange occurrences, leading them to uncover a town-wide conspiracy of silence surrounding a forgotten evil.
  • In a dystopian future where dreams are monitored by the state, a dream interpreter finds themselves accused of insurgency after uncovering a collective nightmare that could be the key to humanity’s salvation or its ultimate downfall.
  • A detective investigating a series of ritualistic murders realizes the killings are recreating ancient folklore tales, and must dive into the world of myth to prevent the final, catastrophic chapter from being enacted.
  • An experimental therapy session designed to cure phobias traps participants in a virtual reality that becomes a nightmarish landscape, where they must face their deepest fears or be lost to the simulation forever.

Let these plot prompts be the catalyst for weaving horror stories that plunge readers into the depths of dread, offering narratives filled with the macabre, the supernatural, and the chilling realization that sometimes, the true horror lies within ourselves.

Image Prompts

In the realm of horror, the power of an image to evoke fear, curiosity, and the uncanny is unparalleled. Below, a selection of carefully chosen images beckons, each a window into narratives woven from the fabric of nightmares. From the skeletal remains of once-habited houses to the oppressive embrace of a fog that swallows landscapes whole, these images serve as the silent heralds of stories yet to be told. Let them draw you into the heart of darkness, into places where the thin veneer of reality peels away to reveal the horror lurking beneath, waiting for the spark of imagination to bring it into the light. Through abandoned asylums with halls echoing the screams of the past, to the depths of forests where shadows move with a life of their own, each scene is a challenge to be met, a mystery to be unraveled, a tale of terror to be told.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions that will provide you with more information.

What are some scary writing prompts?

A town where everyone disappears every year on the same night, with no memory of what happened. A mirror that reflects an alternate, sinister reality. A phone call from yourself, warning of imminent danger. A photograph that ages, while its subject does not. An isolated cabin where written words come to life, with deadly consequences.

What are some horror topics to talk about?

Exploring the psychology behind fear and horror. The evolution of horror in literature and film. The impact of supernatural vs. psychological horror on audiences. The role of horror in societal commentary. The most influential horror authors and their contributions to the genre.

What is something scary to write about?

An unsolved mystery in a small town that's linked to an ancient, malevolent force. The discovery of an old journal that reveals the existence of a hidden world, fraught with danger. A new technology that allows people to share dreams, but traps them in a nightmare realm. A family heirloom that curses its owners with visions of their demise. An expedition to a forgotten island where the explorers become prey to unseen predators.

How do you start a horror writing?

Begin with a seemingly normal scenario that quickly reveals its unsettling undercurrent. Introduce a character with a haunting past or a peculiar ability that draws them into the horror. Set the scene with a detailed description of a setting that evokes a sense of dread. Start with a chilling piece of dialogue or an eerie event that sets the tone for the rest of the narrative. Open with a mystery or a question that compels the reader to delve deeper into the story.


The craft of horror writing beckons those brave enough to explore its depths, to weave tales from the shadows that dance at the edge of our fears. The prompts provided herein serve as mere starting points, gateways into the vast, uncharted territories of your imagination. From the spark of an initial idea to the development of characters who breathe with life, from the construction of settings that chill the bone to the intricacies of plots that twist and turn, each element is a thread in the tapestry of horror. The dialogue that whispers secrets in the dark, the themes that probe the psyche, and the images that conjure the unseen all work in concert to create narratives that not only terrify but also transcend, reflecting the darkest aspects of the human condition.

Horror writing is not just about evoking fear; it's about holding up a mirror to our innermost anxieties, challenging us to confront them, to question the nature of the darkness within and without. It invites readers to embark on a journey through the unknown, to experience the thrill of the unseen, and to find catharsis in the resolution, however unsettling it may be. As you venture forth with pen in hand or keys at your fingertips, remember that the true power of horror lies in its ability to unsettle, to disturb, and ultimately, to reveal. Let the prompts within this post be your guide as you delve into the abyss, crafting stories that linger in the mind long after the last page is turned, the final word read. Embrace the darkness, for within it lies the most profound of truths waiting to be discovered.

Further Reading

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