50 Writing Prompts for Terrifying Horror Stories!!!!

Relay Publishing
7 min readSep 29, 2023

Are you ready for a spine-tingling journey into the unknown? Grab your trusty pen and paper, turn off all the lights, and prepare to fill your pages with thrills and chills inspired by our exciting horror writing prompts.

We’ve developed 50 of the most versatile horror writing prompts for writers of all levels — from novice to expert. Find something here that sparks your imagination, and discover a character to terrorise.

So, get ready to jumpstart your creativity with these spooky story ideas — guaranteed to make you quiver in fear…or delight!

50 Horror story prompts

Horror stories are so enticing — perhaps a serial killer is stalking a teenage girl, or a haunted house is the location for a creepy Halloween night party that’s sure to go wrong.

Scary story ideas emerge from the depths of the human psych, playing on our innate fear of grisly murders, demonic killers, grisly spectres with a chip on their shoulder, and spooky symbols surrounding a dead body trapped in the cellar.

Why are cellars so god-damned terrifying?

Maybe we’ll never know. Or perhaps it’s because we’ve hidden our best friend in a box underneath the floorboards…

50 Horror story writing prompts

Here are 50 horror writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing.

Monster horror story prompts

Monsters don’t need to be in mystical lands. A story set in real life is often more terrifying than one in a fantasy world. Try these prompts for a great story to keep your friends (and readers) awake at night!

  1. A small town is terrorized by a mysterious creature that lurks in the shadows, yet no one knows its true form. Is old Mrs. Smith looking at me oddly?
  2. An old woman lives alone in an isolated cabin deep in the woods and has been warned never to go outside after dark. What happens when she ignores this warning one night?
  3. An abandoned carnival suddenly reappears in a town populated with cursed dolls that come alive at night.
  4. A small town is plagued by a series of strange disappearances and mysterious deaths that begin during a lunar eclipse.
  5. On a road trip, you find yourself stranded in an unfamiliar town with no cell phone reception or way to contact help…and then you realize a group of high-functioning zombies inhabits it!
  6. You wake up in a mysterious motel with no memory of how you got there. Why is everyone around you so afraid of the rain?
  7. After discovering a strange creature in the woods, you soon realize it has the power to grant wishes — but at what cost?
  8. A young girl wakes up after a car accident. Everyone’s speaking a strange language. What has happened, and can she get home?
  9. An old man wakes up to a zombie apocalypse. Can he save his wife from the ravenous undead?
  10. A child’s imaginary friend suddenly comes to life. Except they attach themselves to the wrong person.

Supernatural horror story ideas

Horror writers love the supernatural because pretty much anything goes. And blending the supernatural with the real world is the mainstay of great horror fiction.

Here’s a little inspiration for the supernatural horror genre.

  1. An ancient evil has returned from beyond the grave to exact revenge on those who wronged it centuries ago.
  2. A funeral home is the focus of a series of mysterious deaths that can’t be explained by normal means.
  3. Two strangers are trapped in an elevator with no way out, and they slowly begin to realize a supernatural presence is among them.
  4. After being cursed by a witch, your reflection in the mirror slowly starts to change, becoming something else entirely.
  5. After a long voyage, your ship docks at an abandoned island — but what lurks beneath its foggy surface?
  6. You stumble upon an old book filled with dark secrets — secrets so powerful they could unleash untold horrors upon the world if revealed.
  7. Strange things are taking place at Carrie’s new high school. Can she find the only person who can help?
  8. A group of horror writers spends the weekend in a woodland lodge for a writer’s retreat. But then their story ideas come to life.
  9. The ghost of Stephen King haunts a woman terrified of scary stories.
  10. A couple watch a scary movie in a deserted shack in the middle of the woods. All is excellent fun until there’s a knock at the door.

Slasher horror story writing prompts

The slasher horror genre is just what you need to scare every virgin in the land. Remember, for a great horror story, sometimes all you need is a psycho and a weapon of choice.

  1. A group of teenagers gets lost in a creepy abandoned house. Strange and sinister things start happening as they try to find a way out. Only to discover their pursuer is hungry for blood.
  2. When your car breaks down on a deserted highway, you must face an unspeakable terror before finding help.
  3. Trick or treating goes badly wrong when Jake and Olivia knock at the door of the old house at the end of the street.
  4. A gang of teenagers on their first holiday without their parents run into trouble when they crash their jeep in a deserted town.
  5. A young couple discovers an old door they didn’t realize was attached to the back of their cellar. They’ll wish they never opened up!
  6. A Halloween party goes badly wrong when the bad kids with a taste for blood spike the punch.
  7. High school was never much fun for Johnny. Now it’s the reunion, it’s time to get even.
  8. Is Andy paranoid? Or is someone really following him? And why are the town’s pets meeting an untimely death?
  9. A group of friends find themselves stranded in a creepy cabin in the woods on a dark and stormy night, unaware that an escaped serial killer has just been spotted nearby.
  10. After a strange meteor lands in their small, rural town, the locals start turning up dead with strange bite marks left on their bodies.

Haunted house horror writing prompts

Some of the best horror stories take place in scary old houses. But hauntings can happen in the most unlikely places.

  1. A family moves into an old mansion, not knowing its horrifying secrets are hidden in the basement.
  2. All tenants are dying in the newest skyscraper to hit the New York skyline. Surely a new building couldn’t be haunted?
  3. An isolated cabin in the wilderness holds a dark secret, and something sinister emerges from within its walls one night.
  4. A decrepit old mansion is rumored to be haunted by malevolent spirits — trapped within its walls for centuries.
  5. A group of ghost hunters set out to investigate an abandoned asylum, only to find themselves face-to-face with their deepest fears…
  6. A family moves into an old, big house, unaware of the evil force that lurks within and threatens to destroy them all.
  7. While exploring an abandoned building, you stumble upon something ancient — and deadly — hidden away in its depths.
  8. A young couple moves into their new house. Only to discover the previous tenants are living in the attic.
  9. A group of friends ventures into an old abandoned mine, only to find the remains of something very sinister lurking deep underground.
  10. The joy of moving into their new home is marred by the noisy neighbours they weren’t warned about!

Psychological thriller horror writing prompts

Tense and dark, the psychological thriller genre is a favourite of scary story fans. Common themes are gaslighting, stalking, and mental torture in this creepy horror story cateGORY.

  1. You receive an ominous letter warning you of danger if you don’t leave your home immediately. But who sent it, and why?
  2. You receive a mysterious package with no return address — when you open it, you find something sinister inside…
  3. After being cursed by an otherworldly entity, your life slowly unravels as your worst nightmares come true.
  4. A mad scientist is found dead in his lab — the lone survivor of his great experiment has appeared in a parallel universe to exact revenge.
  5. A woman wakes to discover her close friend lying dead on the sofa.
  6. A woman finds a little boy who seems lost and frightened, disrupting her perfect life in ways she could never have thought possible.
  7. A little girl seeks out her estranged father but discovers a secret about a tragic accident that reveals her mom is an imposter.
  8. A gang of serial killers makes a satanic pact to exact revenge on the justice system that incarcerates them.
  9. A mad scientist develops artificial intelligence that solves his loneliness. But why have the locks been changed? And how did the windows get boarded up?
  10. A serial killer is on the lookout for a new victim. Unfortunately, that person is you.

Horror writing prompts and story ideas

Good horror story ideas are guaranteed to make you quiver in your boots. And with each of these creepy horror story ideas, you can create your own tale of terror for your readers to enjoy.

Use your imagination, and let these horror prompts spark your terrifyingly dark side. Expand on the details and explore different characters and settings to bring them to life.

Relay Publishing wants to hear from you!

Are you a budding horror writer? Or is mystery writing your thing? We hope you can take these fun horror prompts and develop something delightfully disgusting and ghoulish.

Check out our thrillers for some extra inspiration, and when your story is ready, send us your polished draft. We have work for you as a ghoooooostwriter.

So, start writing! We’ve started you off with the inspiration; now we want to see what you can dooooooooo!

Get in touch soooooooooon!

Harry Wallett is the Founder and Managing Director of Relay Publishing. Combining his entrepreneurial background with a love of great stories, Harry founded Relay in 2013 as a fresh way to create books and for writers to earn a living from their work. Since then, Relay has sold 3+ million copies and worked with 100s of writers on bestselling titles such as Defending Innocence, The Alveria Dragon Akademy Series and Rancher’s Family Christmas.

Harry oversees the creative direction of the company, and works to develop a supportive collaborative environment for the Relay team to thrive within in order to fulfill our mission to create unputdownable books.

Republished with permission from Relay Publishing

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Relay Publishing

Relay has founded a collaborative environment for literary creatives to exercise their skillset and develop their craft across a multitude of fiction genres.