13 of the Best Horror Writing Prompts

Horror writing prompts

Do you need inspiration for your next horror story? We’ve got you covered. Try these horror writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

The Screaming Woman

The screaming woman is a common motif in horror. It’s the idea of a girl, or a woman, who appears to be in distress but is fine. She wants to scare you so badly that she makes herself look like she’s dying of fright.

The Voice

A voice that speaks to you from the dark can be an ominous warning of impending danger or something more sinister. This could be someone who speaks in your head or something else entirely — maybe even an entity whose power is so great that it can control you even when you aren’t aware it’s there.

The Door

In horror movies and books, doors seem to stand between us and safety — they can be locked, lead us into another room, or open up unexpectedly for no reason!

Doors are one of the most common symbols in horror because they represent change and transition from one place to another without warning or notice.

Write a Horror Story in Which a Character Must Save Someone Else

A character must save someone else, but there’s a catch: the person they’re saving has already died.

This can be done through many different means, but one of the most effective ways is to have the character see and feel their loved one’s death before it happens. The character then begins a quest to bring their loved one back to life.

Write a Short Piece That Explores Personal Fears

What do you think about hearing someone say they’re afraid of something? Do you think “scary” or “funny”? How about an object or place? What makes something scary? How does it make you feel? What does it mean to be scared of something?

These questions can easily be explored in short writing pieces, but you’ll need to ensure that your characters are relatable and believable if you want them to resonate with readers.

Write a Story Set in a Prison, Mental Institution or Hospital

Being locked away from the world is scary to most of us, but it can also be an opportunity for great horror writing. The setting can be used as a character in its own right and have some very scary implications.

You can also use the facility to explore your characters’ pasts or fears. For example, if your character was once institutionalized and still has strong feelings of dread towards any institution, that could be explored in the story itself (if you wanted). Or perhaps something more subtle, like they were abused while at the facility, and now they have severe PTSD, which makes them extremely sensitive to any hint of danger.

Read more about horror story settings Here.

Write About a Character Who Is Afraid of Something but Refuses to Admit It to Anyone Else, Including Themselves

Write about someone who hides their fear from others because they believe that if they admit to being afraid, then people will think less of them and treat them differently than others who appear fearless in public settings.

This kind of fear would not necessarily be easily visible to everyone around them. Still, at times it would manifest itself in ways that only those close enough (or those who are aware enough) could recognize as unusual behaviour for this type of person.

Describe in Detail an Object That Terrifies You as a Child (But Don’t Reveal What It Was)

If you were to describe an object that terrified you as a child but didn’t reveal what it was, then the object would be describing itself!

The story would be about how the object acted when confronted with its fear–how it was used to intimidate your fear of it. For example, if I were to write about this prompt, I would talk about how my mother’s purse was used to frighten me when she wasn’t around.

Or how my father’s wallet was used as a weapon against me when he wasn’t around. Or maybe even how my siblings’ toys were used against me when they weren’t around! The point is that the object should be able to speak for itself and tell its own story of terror.

Write About Your Worst Nightmare and How You’d Handle It if It Were to Happen to You Now–or Never Happened at All!

This is a great prompt for writers who want to explore the darkest parts of their minds. If you’re unsure where to begin, take note of your fears and worst nightmares and use them as inspiration for your story.

Write a Short Story or Poem in Which an Animal Is a Protagonist

This is one of my favourite prompts because it forces you to write about something you might otherwise overlook. If you’re unsure how to approach this prompt, consider writing about the most common animals in your neighbourhood (dogs, cats, birds, and so on). The more realistic the animal is, the better!

Write About a Memory That Still Haunts You Today

The best horror writing prompts force you to use your imagination and create a story that is entirely from the author’s point of view. This is where you can explore your fears, dreams, and desires and write about them in a way that has never been done before.

The more personal this story is for you, the more likely it will be accepted by editors and agents alike. The best way to do this is to find different ways to express yourself through writing. It might be through poetry or journaling if you’re comfortable with it.

The point here is to find something that scares you somehow and then use that fear as inspiration for your stories!

Write a Story About a Woman Attacked in Her Home by an Unknown Assailant but Is Rescued by a Mysterious Stranger

In this prompt, you have the opportunity to write about someone who is being attacked in their home by an unknown assailant. The story could be about any person, but it will typically be female.

This type of character is usually very strong and independent, so they might not want to ask for help immediately after an attack occurs. However, if they decide to call the police or make other calls, they will likely be met with scepticism or even disbelief if they report that they were attacked at home.

Read more about Point-of-view in horror stories Here.

Write About a Character Who is Part of a Cult or Religious Group That Worships Something Other Than the Human Race

This is another simple prompt, but it can lead to great stories if you use this idea to inspire your characters’ religion or belief system. You could have a character who worships something other than humans, such as animals or even objects like cars, machines (or technology).

You could also use this idea for something like werewolves and vampires, where these creatures are part of an ancient society that believes in supernatural beings. But one that doesn’t worship humans anymore!