101 Terrifying Horror Story Ideas and Writing Prompts


One of the main goals I have with this site is to remove potential barriers for writers and self-publishing authors. Sometimes those writing barriers come in the form of inspiration or lack thereof,  so I decided to create a series of posts with genre-specific writing prompts.

In this article, I will share 101 Horror Story Ideas and Writing Prompts that you are free to use as inspiration for your next project.

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I’ve always been someone who suffered from lots of ideas and less than stellar follow-through, but I know there are some authors out there where all they need is a bit of inspiration and they are going to run with and create something great.  So that’s my hope, that some of you will read these horror story ideas and get inspired to flush them out and create a terrifying story that has the potential to scare millions in the future.

Some people might question putting your story ideas out there for others to use, but the truth is there is no shortage of ideas out there. On top of that, if we were all given the same horror writing prompt and asked to create a story from it, not one story would be the same. We all have different skill levels, approaches, writing styles, and imagination. I know many of you can create these ideas into something better than I ever could.

Story ideas are great, and they can capture our imaginations and propel us to start and finish a project when they fully consume us. However, the execution of completing that story is where the real magic happens.

So don’t be afraid to explore any of these horror writing prompts for fear that they are public and could potentially be used by other writers.  If one story idea grabs you, sit on it, let it ruminate in your mind, flush it out, tweak it, make it your own. If you go through that creative process and are still excited about it, then move onto the outlining phase, where you will truly bring these ideas to life in your own image.

I also want to give a quick warning, these writing prompts and horror story themes are meant for adults, so allowing your children to read them, is up to your discretion.

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So let’s get into it- 101 Horror Story ideas, segmented loosely by their type of horror subgenre.

Ghost, Supernatural, & Demon Horror Story Ideas and Writing Prompts

Ghost, Supernatural, & Demon Horror Story Ideas and Writing Prompts

In this section, you will find one of the most common types of horror story, those dealing with ghost stories, the supernatural, or demons. I hope you enjoy these ghost horror story writing prompts and they inspire you to write something crazy scary.
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1. A freelance photographer is in Brazil for Carnivale. When he checks into his economy rental his health inexplicably begins to go downhill very fast. The cause lies with the spirits of visitors past. 

2. Foster parents take custody of a newborn, but when they open up their home to the baby a dark force takes over the house that threatens them all. 

3. An archeologist studying Aztec Ruins in Mexico starts to have visions of ancient atrocities. They become ever more real and dangerous when they start to repeat themselves all around him.

4. A cemetery groundskeeper’s run-in with a mysterious woman unlocks an ability to see the future, the trouble is everything he sees entails the death of his loved ones. 

5.  A priest struggles to reconcile science and his faith, the trouble is as he gets closer and closer to leaving the church, the darker events get around him. 

6. A family moves into an abandoned ranch that hasn’t been lived in for years. As they get settled their animals begin to get sick and die. What they don’t realize is that once all the animals are gone, they are next. 

7. A man inherits a European chateau from a rich relative he never knew existed. When he and his wife get there it quickly becomes evident something in this house never intends to let them leave. 

8. A real estate developer purchases a defunct insane asylum.   But everyone that enters the new bed and breakfast begins to go mad, prompting the question was it the people who brought madness to Trumbull House or vice versa. 

9. A young woman is dragged to a medium as part of a bachelor party. During the reading, the medium warns the women of impending doom right before she dies. 

10. A plantation owner known for the brutality with which he treated his slaves beats a young man to death after catching him with his daughter. The slave’s spirit returns seeking revenge on the man and reunion with his lost love. 

11. A young girl walks into her parent’s room one-morning without saying a word looking distant, calm, and pale. Finally, matter-of-factly she speaks, “We should make the most of today because it’s our last.”

12. A young couple begins to wake up every night, at the witching hour, starting on the 1 year anniversary of their child’s death. 

13. Teenagers go deep into the woods for a weekend of drinking and debauchery on an ancient Indian burial ground. One by One they disappear. 

14. An undercover police officer is tasked with infiltrating a fringe demonic cult suspected of kidnapping a child. As he lives among them he participates in rituals that are meant to bring about tragic events. Suddenly he realizes they’re actually happening to friends and family in the town. 

15. A born-again Christian evangelical in New Orleans try to fight remaining voodoo fringe cultural elements.  When he finds voodoo dolls representing everyone in the town strung up, he abruptly cuts them down, which sets off a series of tragedies disappearances. 

16. A group of teens decides to spend the weekend at the site of a haunted urban legend. During their visit, they begin to realize the legend actually describes the exact events of their weekend blurring truth & legend. 


Slasher Story Ideas and Writing Prompts

Everyone loves a good slasher movie, they are hard to pull off well, but when you do you have the makings of a cult hit. In this section, we will look at a few new story ideas involving slasher horror story writing prompts.

17. Plane crash survivors must live in the wilderness until they are rescued. As they set up camp one of them is found murdered. They know someone amongst them is a killer, now they have to survive while being hunted from within the group. 

18. Three friends wake up trapped in a room. An unidentified voice informs them that he has each of their spouses captive. He informs them they have 24 hours to decide who lives or dies, the trick is the last alive will be granted freedom along with their spouse. 

19. Strangers are sent separate job offers from a small town company. When they relocate to the town, they quickly find out that a murderer is picking them off one by one. 

20. He’s a surgeon who saves lives by day and a serial killer that brutally takes them by night. 

21. Campers get snowed into their cabin during a bad storm. Now they are being hunted by the only other person on the mountain. 

22. A spring break trip to Cancun turns deadly for a group of tourists as a rash of murders hit the resort. 

23. A mysterious stranger appears and offers a down on their luck musician anything they desire. They can enjoy this life of riches and fortune with one catch, at every concert one person in the audience will die. 

24. An RV park near Yosemite becomes the latest killing site of a national serial killer on the loose, but escaping isn’t as easy as driving away. 

25. A rash of abductions and murders take a small town hostage when moms from the local school start to disappear and turn up brutally mutilated. 

26. A schizophrenic killer fights the voices in his head, but the only way he can temporarily quiet them is to continue to sacrifice the innocents selected by those very same voices. 

27. A pre-teen child struggles with sociopathic tendencies and through her counseling, the child begins to accept her behavior isn’t normal, the trouble is this causes her to fully embrace her sadistic behavior. 

28.  A downtrodden homeless man who lost everything during the financial crises snaps and decides to he has nothing to lose so he will rain furry on wall street himself.

29. A disturbed man enthralled with the horrific scientific experiments conducted by Nazi doctors decides he is going to advance the science and complete the work his deranged idols started.  

30. A woman’s child was kidnapped and murdered and the loss was too much for her to come back from mentally. She is now determined to dole the same pain she felt on the other families. 

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Scary Horror Story Ideas With a Twist

Horror stories can be widely entertaining without some kind of clever twist. But if you can pull off a spine-tingling horror story with a twist at the end that no reader saw coming, then you have a scary story that will get fans talking, which means a viral sales potential for your horror novel.

31. A woman wakes up from her coma in a strange dilapidated hospital after an accident she can’t remember. But in this hospital, the patients never seem to get better. The twist is that everyone in the hospital is already dead.

32. A small town sheriff tries to solve a series of murders before the killer takes his next victim, but the killer is always one step ahead. The Twist is that the sheriff and killer are one in the same. 

33. A 1940’s psychiatric hospital performs experiments on the clinically insane. A young doctor takes umbrage at how the patients are being treated. She tries to find a way to take down the hospital and free the patients but her concerns go ignored. The twist is that the doctors are former patients that have long taken control of the hospital. 

34. A vigilante killer determined to take the law into his own hands by killing society’s Degenerates. There is one thing that nobody knows, he framed each of his victims to watch their lives coming crashing down before ending them. 

35. A father and his family are on the run being hunted by a drug cartel. They go off the grid and try to sneak out of the country. One by one they get separated from the group and then disappear for good. The twist is the father is the one killing them as they are the only witnesses to his crimes. 

36. A woman travels to Haiti on a religious mission after being invited by a growing sect of Christians in the country that is trying to spread Christianity. As she there the missionary group realizes the dark forces in the village are very strong and have no plans of giving up there hold on the people. The twist is that the people who invited them to the town did so as part of a project to eradicate Christianity person by person and not to convert. 

37. An environmental group is called into a small town to investigate environmental pollution in the water. As they begin their search members of the team get murdered. The horror plot twist is that the group isn’t being murdered by some corporate hired evildoers, in fact, the pollution in the water isn’t man-made at all, but a supernatural force that requires sacrifices to keep from wiping out the town. The environmental group of sacrifices offered by the townspeople. 

38. A wife and her children begin to hear and experience weird occurrences in their home. The threats become more and more dangerous, and the mother struggles to keep her sanity and children safe. The plot twist in this horror writing prompt is that everything the mother is experiencing is a hoax meant to have her diagnosed as clinically insane so the husband could have custody of the children and all the money in a planned divorce. 

39. Alien life forms come to earth creating mass hysteria.  The large ships hover over random cities around the globe. Humanity tries to make contact with the ships but they aren’t able to. The only thing that can be heard is a high pitched frequency that seems to be jamming communications on earth.  Humanity turns on itself, unleashing it’s worst on each other. The plot twist is that the ships were autonomous vehicles sent to earth to form a shield around the planet for an incoming meter strike that would have ended humanity. 

40.  A person is kidnapped and wakes up in a foreign town where each of the captives is hunted for sport. They must try to figure a way out before they are captured and killed. The plot twist in this horror story is that the people were actually never captured, just put into a VR simulation by the government to test the limits of peoples ability to deal with stress. 

41. A big city family moves to a backwoods town due to career relocation. When they get to the town it becomes clear that something is very off with townspeople.  Eventually, they figure out that the job offer was a hoax, and the town needed to call them there to harvest new DNA and organs for their population that experienced health issues due to a limited gene pool.  


Monster Writing Prompts & Horror Story Ideas

This group of horror story ideas and writing prompts will focus on Monster driven story plots. You will a different type of monster in each one, so I hope it helps get the creative juices flowing.

Monster Writing Prompts and Horror Story Ideas

42. A military base closes down, leaving the remnants of a small town behind. When a group of children wanders onto the base they discover something still seems to be living in the underground tunnels.

43. Hikers discover an abandoned mine that seems to go on forever. As they descend into the mine they realize they’ve crossed through a portal to an alternate dimension filled with creatures they could have never imagined. 

44. Animals and children start to disappear near a Florida swamp, the small group of townspeople enters the swamp to hunt alligators they suspect are causing the issue. What they find is hiding in the green mist is far more dangerous than any alligator. 

45. A group of Dungeons and Dragons players invites a new student to join the group. He is considered off and weird by most of the school but to the D&D group, he fits right in. When he becomes the new game master something unexplainable happens, the monsters and happenings in the game begin to appear and occur in real life. 

46. Biologists in the rainforest of central America are looking for a rare plant said to have cancer-fighting properties. The trip turns dark when it is clear that these woods are also home to a packed with a wild pack of Chupacabras. Now they must figure out what is hunting them and how to survive. 

47. An online streaming video star and crew which focuses on debunking urban legends and ghost stories go deep into the pine barons of New Jersey to debunk the New Jersey Devil myth. The only trouble is there is more truth to this myth then they ever expected. (This one is a shout out to New Jersey, there really is more to this state than the turnpike and the Jersey Shore, but I digress) 

48. Three young devil worshippers are determined to make contact with the hell.  But in trying to make contact with the devil, they unleash the mythical 3 headed Cerberus onto earth. 

49. An Incubus is unleashed inside a maximum security female prison. Preying on the inmates while they sleep, trying to impregnate to unleash a band of demonic babies onto earth. 

50. Taking a trip of a lifetime, a family travels to Africa for a safari. Wanting the most authentic trip possible they decide to go it alone but when their camp is attacked by a fabled Nandi Bear they will need every inch of guile to survive. 

51. A young team of Crab fisherman leave for their long crabbing season in the artic but on their journey, they encounter far more than they expected. Their ship has apparently been spotted by what one can only describe as a Cracken like creature. 

52. A small town has a rash of new illnesses come over the town’s children. The diseases can’t be explained by physicians and threaten the lives of the entire town. A small group of teens is the only children unaffected. They search for a reason and find that the cause is actually the mythical Greek disease demon Aerico. 
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Alien Story Ideas and Writing Prompts 

In this section of our horror story writing prompts, we will focus on horror stories driven by Alien creatures and plot lines. Enjoy these Alien focused Writing Prompts.

53. A horrible fog rolls in over a town, it will not dissipate. The townspeople aren’t allowed to leave when the rest of the country realizes any person that relocates from that town subjects their town to the same fate.  The trouble is all the crops are dying, no one is allowed to enter or leave the town and the everytime someone disappears the fog gets a bit wider in diameter.

53. All the wildlife starts to die as weird weather patterns begin to occur. While this is going on new crop circles are starting to appear across the globe. Scientists point to climate change, but soon it becomes clear that the changing climate is due to Alien locust-type creatures that have tagged earth as their next stop. 

54. A select group of people on the planet gain telekinetic powers. The new power is hailed as the next giant leap in human evolution. However, these new powers are actually being dictated by an alien super race that plans on using these human puppets to enslave civilization. 

55. Seismic events occur around the globe in the deepest parts of the ocean. The world braces for the aftermath from the series of earthquakes, but in reality, it isn’t earthquakes at all, but an ancient alien civilization that has laid dormant in the earth’s crust that is rising up to complete its mission. 

56. A series of unresolved missing person cases that have been opened for years around the United States are suddenly closed when the missing people reappear. Something has changed with these people but no one quite knows what it is. These are not the same people they were when they disappeared. They were alien abductees and now being sent back to earth to carry out their alien captures plans. 

57. A small green gelatinous creature is found by a group of friends in the nearby swamp. They take the creature home as a secret pet. Within days the creature reveals itself for what it is a carnivorous alien set on feeding and multiplying. 

58. A spaceship crashes into the desert. A group of people finds it and when they open it they are quickly trapped inside as the craft takes off. This is one of the multiple ships that crash landed. As the military studies them, aliens study the captives to find the easiest way to terminate the species. 

59. A fleet of Alien ships come to planet earth. They speak perfect English and explain they are there to share technology and come in peace. However, the truth is they intend on harvesting and using the human race as carbon batteries. 

60. One Alien child is found on the planet. Competing factions argue on what the course of action should be with her. Some want to invite her in and learn from her, others want to do experiments on her. As the planet tries to figure out just what course of action to take, the rest of the Alien species watches on, as the child was an Alien tester. Depending on how the humans treat her, will determine whether or not the aliens in search of a new planet come to live amongst us or simply exterminate us and take the planet for themselves. 

61. Unexplained shadows in the sky engulf entire cities. As the occurrence continues to happen humanity becomes more and more frantic. Now the question is can the human race overcome the Alien psychological warfare and prepare for the real threat. 

62. A group of townspeople begins to turn on each other in horrible ways. The first occurrence is cast aside as someone simply having a mental break down. However, when the occurrences spread, it becomes evident that something has come over the people of this once peaceful town.  The cause is an Alien mental manipulation that embeds horrific visions into the people of the town of atrocities being committed by their own neighbors, friends, and family. 


Zombie Horror Story Ideas and Writing Prompts  

No list of horror or scary story writing ideas would be complete without having some Zombies thrown in, so in this section, we will focus on Zombie driven horror stories.

Zombie Horror Story Writing Prompts

63. A zombie plague takes over the world, but the most dangerous part of this plague is that the virus lays dormant for up to 6 months before a person changes. So now you are living amongst the confirmed zombies and possibly soon to be zombies that can change instantaneously without warning. 

64. The zombie apocalypse happened years ago, but a cure is finally available. Now to bring your loved ones back you must catch them and bring them to the government determent camp for treatment. A small town pastor sets out to lead a group in his town through the red zone to find their loved ones. 

65. The zombie apocalypse is in full swing, however, these undead creatures are mating with wildlife getting exponentially faster and stronger. Survival is the name of the game for this group of roaming survivors. 

66. The zombie virus has taken out most of civilization, the remaining survivors are lucky to take it one day at a time. A select group of survivors has a genetic mutation that makes them impervious to the virus. However, they have to be concerned with not only the flesh-eating zombies but survivors hunting them for their blood. 

67. What if the zombie virus had two paths it could take, one was to turn you into a member of the brainless undead destined to roam the world for eternity and the other was making you impervious to disease and death. The trick it the only way to know which way your body will take the mutation is to get bit. 

68. There is one religious camp left in the world that the zombie plague has not yet infested. The trick is it’s on the other side of the country and a group of survivors needs to make its way there for hopes of survival, but in the meantime, it has to survive the journey. 

69. In a twisted post, apocalyptic world zombies have been enslaved as pets to mock and torture. What happens when the notoriously dumb undead begins to think and figure a way out. 

70.  A man’s family has been compromised by the zombie plague, the government has strict rules that when anyone is infected they must be turned in for extermination immediately. The man must now hide his family while trying to get his hands on the rumored cure. 

71. A zombie virus infects the U.S. Military, however, these zombies are intelligent and thus weaponized. Now society must band together to defeat them. 


Writing Prompts & Horror Story Ideas with Dolls

Sometimes the scariest stories come from some of the most realistic prompts. We have all seen an entirely too creepy doll in our day, one of those that you just don’t want to look at let alone hold. Well in this section we will visit horror story writing prompts with dolls.

Horror Story Writing Prompts about Dolls

71.

72. A young child inherits an attic full of her grandmother’s creepy old dolls. The child is fully engrossed by her new imaginary friends, but as bad things start to happen around the house it becomes evident that these dolls are more than inanimate toys. 

73. An old religious woman buys an old doll at a flea market. When strange things begin to happen to the religious artifacts in the home it becomes clear that this is no ordinary doll. 

74. A group of Voodoo dolls has an animation curse placed on them that causes them to seek out and kill their real-life counterparts. 

75. A hospital gift shop doll is possessed, causing it to comes alive every night and hunt patients in the pediatric ward. 

76. A next generation sex doll equipped with Artificial intelligence seeks revenge on the men that abuse her. 

77.  There is something extra scary about this dolls dead eyes when you look into them your darkest subconscious thoughts are unleashed into the forefront of your mind’s eye where they will ultimately drive you insane unless you act them out. 

78. A child’s clown doll is possessed but no one believes them. Now they need to protect their family from the clown despite being blamed for everything that is happening. 

79. A daycare is overrun by demented dolls, now the teachers must protect the children until help can arrive. 

80. Futuristic robot dolls are overtaken by a demonic AI software update and begin to terrorize humanity. 

81. A doll comes alive and implants on their owner. Unwilling to share her with anyone else, its only focus is eliminating her family. 

82. An old doll that belonged to a young slave girl that was murdered animates itself and seeks revenge on the slave owner’s future generations. 


Short Horror Story Ideas and Writing Prompts

Some of you may want to try your hand at horror but might want to try it in a short story format which is totally fine, and something I might do myself on a future project. While any of these horror story ideas and writing prompts can be used for a short story, in this section I will focus on writing prompts that are a little easier to pull off in a short horror story format.

83. A teen is visiting a boyfriend in another city when they have a fight and she can’t call her parents so she must spend the night in a park. The trouble is there is something hunting people in that park tonight.

84. A person is in an elevator with one other person when it gets stuck. The problem is the other person is a werewolf and will slowly change over soon if the elevator doors don’t open up soon.

85. A vampire that had gone into voluntary exile decides he no longer wants to live on animal blood alone, so one night out of the year he will revisit his hometown to dine on human blood. That night is tonight.

86. A woman is locked in her bathroom, but there is somebody in the mirror staring back at her. 

87. A woman is home alone when her house is broken into, she must survive the break-in without being seen. 

88. A restaurant purchased an old church building, but when the owner is putting the overnight final touches on his restaurant before grand opening tomorrow he realizes spirits that the supernatural may still own this building, not him. 

89. A group of teen girls is in a broken down car in the middle of the night when a group of red necks tripping on Flaca come upon the car. Now with no way to call for help they need to survive. 

90. A traveler is mistaken for the wrong identity and must survive a cartel hitman for the night. 

91. New neighbors move next door and something strange is going on in that house. One night the disturbance spills onto the family’s property and their father must keep them alive until morning. 

92. A cruise ship is run by a cult of crew members when the passengers realize they are there as a fresh crop of victims they need to survive until their next port. 

93. A couple goes on a deep sea diving trip off the coast of Australia, but on one dive their crew disappears and they realize something otherworldly is in the water with them. 

94. A homosexual couple is targeted in their own house by a psychopath. 

95. A new family moves into a home when they start getting letters about being watched. The latest letter says all their worries will end this weekend along with their lives.

96. A woman works out overnight in a 24 hr gym.  She is all alone or so she thinks, but now she needs to survive whoever is after her. 

97. There is a group of newborns in the hospital, but one of them is possessed and now the question is can one nurse protect the rest of the babies until morning. 

98. A late night runner hears something in the woods. She keeps running but whatever it is only getting closer. Can she survive being stalked in the night?

99. A group of kids playing with a Quiji board unlocks a nasty spirit.  Now they need to survive the night until they can get help. 

100. A family hears someone breaking in so they go into their panic room, but that was the plan all along, now they need to figure a way out to survive. 

101. A sane person is locked in a room with other psychotic patients by accident. Now she has to survive the night until the next shift arrives. 

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I really hope these horror story ideas and writing prompts have gotten your creativity flowing.  Pick the story ideas you like the most and start to flush them out. See if you can turn them into a full-fledged plot.

Remember a story premise is great but until you execute on it and publish it, it will never have a chance at scaring readers for generations to come.

Thanks for reading and writing!

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