132 Best Horror Writing Prompts and Scary Story Ideas

Horror stories send shivers down our spines. They are gruesome, shocking, and chilling. Scary stories are meant to horrify us, and there are many ways to make a powerful impact on the reader. The element of surprise is crucial to make the readers’ blood freeze.

There are different types of horror stories. They often deal with terrible murders, supernatural powers, psychopaths, the frightening human psychology and much more.

Although many horror writing prompts and scary ideas have been written, the following 132 horror writing prompts can spark great creativity in aspiring writers of the horror genre.

  1. A family is on a camping trip. The parents are walking with their two children, a daughter and a son. The little boy trips and falls into a dark river. His father jumps to rescue him. Somehow the boy manages to swim to the surface. The father is nowhere to be found. When the mother gets a hold of the boy, she can’t recognize him. She tries holding him, but the moment she touches his wet body, her hands start burning.
  2. A young girl goes missing in a nearby forest. The whole town is searching for her. Her parents find her sitting and smiling in a cave. Her eyes are completely white.
  3. A woman starts watching a movie late at night. The movie seems all too familiar. Finally, she realizes that it is a movie about her own life and that she might be already dead.
  4. A house finds a way to kill every visitor on its premises.
  5. A child makes her own Halloween mask. She glues a lock of her own hair on her mask. The mask comes to life and threatens to take over the girl’s body.
  6. While digging in her backyard, an old lady discovers an iron chest. She opens it and finds a pile of old photographs of her ancestors. All of them are missing their left eye.
  7. A priest is trying to punish God for the death of his sister. He is getting ready to burn down the church, when supernatural forces start to torture him.
  8. Every year a woman goes to the cemetery where her husband is buried, and when she looks at his tombstone, she notices her own name carved in it.
  9. A woman puts a lipstick on in the bathroom when she hears a demonic voice saying to her: “Can’t you see?”
  10.  A mysterious child psychiatrist promises parents to cure their children if they give him a vile of their blood.
  11.  A group of 10 friends decide to rent an old English castle for the weekend. The ghosts are disturbed and seek their pound of flesh.
  12.  A photographer travels to an Indian reservation for his next project. He starts taking photos, but there are only shadows in the places where people should have been.
  13.  A young married couple decide to renovate an abandoned psychiatric hospital and turn it into a hotel. Everything is going well until their first guest arrives.
  14.  Three sisters are reunited for the reading of their grandmother’s will. She has left them a diamond necklace, but they have to fight psychologically and physically for it.
  15.  An old woman pretends to be lost and asks young women to help her get home. She offers them a cup of tea and drugs them. When the women wake up, they are chained in the basement. The old woman gives them tools and boards, so that they can build their own coffin. If they refuse, she inflicts pain on them.
  16.  A mysterious stranger with a glass eye and a cane commissions a portrait. When the portrait is finished, the painter turns into stone.
  17.  A little girl’s sister lives with a monster in the closet. She exits the closet on her sister’s birthday.
  18.  The demons under the nuclear plant get released after an explosion and start terrorizing the families of people who work at the plant.
  19.  A woman gets trapped in a parallel universe where every day she dies horribly in different ways.
  20.  A cannibal hunts for pure children’s hearts hoping they will bring him eternal youth.
  21.  A politician hides his weird sister in the attic. She’s had her supernatural powers after their family home burned to the ground.
  22.  A 16-year-old girl wakes up on a stone-cold table surrounded with people in black and white masks. They are chant and start leaning forward. All of them carry carved knives.
  23.  A boy hears screaming from his parents’ bedroom. He jumps and hides under his bed. Suddenly, everything becomes quiet. A man wearing army boots enters his room. He drags the boy from under the bed and says: “We’ve been searching for you for 200 years.”
  24. A husband and his wife regain consciousness only to see each other tied to chairs, facing each other. A voice on the radio tells them to kill the other, otherwise, they would kill their children.
  25.  A mysterious altruist gives a kidney to a young man, who has potential to become a leading neuroscientist. After a year, the altruist kills the young man because he proves to be an unworthy organ recipient. The following year, the mysterious altruist is a bone marrow donor.
  26.  A group of friends play truth or dare. Suddenly, all the lights go out and in those ten seconds of darkness, one of the group is killed.
  27.  A young man becomes obsessed with an old man living opposite his building. The young man is convinced that the old man is the embodiment of the devil, and starts planning the murder.
  28.  Concerned and grieving parents bring their 8-year-old son to a psychiatrist after their daughter’s accident, believing that the boy had something to do with her death.
  29.  A woman is admitted to a hospital after a car crash. She wakes up after three months in a coma, but when she tries to speak, she can’t utter a sound. When the nurse sees that she is awake, she calls a doctor. The last thing the woman remembers is hearing the doctor say: “Today is your lucky day,” right before four men in black robes take her out.
  30.  A small-town cop becomes obsessed with a cold case from 1978. Three girls went missing after school, and nobody has seen them since. Then one day, in 2008, three girls with the same names as those in 1978 go missing. The case is reopened.
  31.  After his parents’ death a cardiologist returns to his small town where everyone seems to lead a perfect life. This causes a disturbance in the idyllic life of the people since none of them has a heart. 
  32.  A man is kidnapped from his apartment on midnight and brought on a large private estate. He is told that he will be a human pray and that ten hunters with guns will go after him. He is given a 5-minute head start.
  33.  A strange woman in labor is admitted in the local hospital. Nobody seems to recognize her. She screams in agony. A black smoke fills in the entire hospital. After that, nobody is the same. A dark lord is born.
  34.  A young girl finds her grandmother’s gold in a chest in the attic, although she isn’t allowed to go there by herself. She touches the gold and she starts seeing horrible visions involving her grandmother when she was younger.
  35.  An anthropologist studies rituals involving human sacrifice. She slowly begins to accept them as necessary.
  36.  A family of four moves in an old Victorian home. As they restore it, more and more people die suddenly and violently.
  37.  An old nurse has lived next door to a family that doesn’t get older. Their son has remained to be a seven-year-old boy.
  38.  A girl wakes up in her dorm and sees that everybody sleepwalks in the same direction. She acts as if she has the same condition and follows them to an underground black pool where everybody jumps.
  39.  A bride returns to the same bridge for 50 years waiting for her husband-to-be to get out of the water.
  40.  An old woman locks girls’ personalities in a forever growing collection of porcelain dolls. Parents of the missing girls are in agony and they finally suspect something. When they tell the police, their claims are instantly dismissed.
  41.  A chemistry teacher disfigures teenagers who remind him of his childhood bullies. One day, he learns that the new student in his school is the son of his childhood’s archenemy.
  42.  A girl starts digging tiny holes in her backyard. When her mother asks her what she is doing, the girl answers: “Mr. Phantom told me to bury my dolls tonight. Tomorrow night I am going to bury our dog. And then, you, mother.”
  43.  Twin brothers were kidnapped and returned the next day. They claim that they can’t remember anything. The following night, twin sisters disappear.
  44.  A boy has a very realistic dream about an impending doom, but nobody believes him until during a storm all the birds fall dead on the ground.
  45.  Room 206 is believed to be haunted, so hotel guests never stay in it. One day, an old woman arrives at the hotel and asks for the key to room 206. She says that she was born there.
  46.  A genius scientist tries to extract his wife’s consciousness from her lifeless body and insert it into an imprisoned woman who looks just like his wife.
  47.  Two distinguished scientists develop a new type of virus that attacks their brains and turns them into killing machines.
  48.  A woman steps out of her house only to find four of her neighbors dead at her doorstep. Little does she know that she isn’t supposed to call the police.
  49.  A bachelor’s party ends with two dead people in the pool. Both of them are missing their eyes.
  50.  A young woman wearing a black dress is holding a knife in her hand and threatening to kill a frightened man. She is terrified because she does not want to kill anybody, but her body refuses to obey her mind.
  51.  A strange religious group starts performing a ritual on a playground. The children’s hearts stop beating.
  52.  A woman discovers that her niece has done some horrible crimes, so she decides to poison her. Both of them take the poison, but only the aunt dies.
  53.  A man encounters death on his way to work. He can ask three questions before he dies. He makes a quick decision.
  54.  An older brother kills his baby sister because he wants to be an only child. When he learns that his mother is pregnant again, he decides to punish her.
  55.  A husband and his wife move to a new apartment. After a week, both of them kill themselves. They leave a note saying: “Never again.”
  56.  A man is trying to open a time portal so that he could kill his parents before he is ever conceived.
  57.  A famous conductor imprisons a pianist from the orchestra and makes him play the piano while he tortures other victims, also musicians. Every time the pianist makes a mistake, the conductor cuts of a finger from his victims.
  58.  A popular French chef is invited by a mysterious Japanese sushi master for dinner. A powerful potion makes the French chef fall asleep. He wakes up horrified to learn that he is kept on a human farm, in a cage.
  59.  A nuclear blast turns animals into blood-thirsty monsters.
  60.  A mysterious bug creeps under people’s skins and turns them into the worst version of themselves.
  61.  A kidnapper makes his victims torture each other for his sheer pleasure.
  62.  Four friends are invited to spend the afternoon in an escape room. A man’s voice tells them that they have won a prize. They happily accept and enter the escape room. They soon realize that the room was designed to reflect their worst nightmares.
  63.  Two sisters have been given names from the Book of the Dead. Their fates have been sealed, so when they turn 21, dark forces are sent to bring them to the underground.
  64.  A mother-to-be starts feeling severe pain in her stomach every time she touches a Bible. Despite the fear for her own life, she starts reading the New Testament out loud.
  65.  A literature professor discovers an old manuscript in the college library. He opens it in his study and suddenly a black raven flies through the window.
  66.  You are the Ruler of a dystopian society. You kill every time your control is threatened.
  67.  You are an intelligent robot who shows no mercy to humanity.
  68.  You are a promising researcher who discovers that all the notorious dictators have been cloned.
  69.  A nomad meets a fakir who tells him that he would bring agony to dozens of people unless he kills himself before he transforms into a monster.
  70.  A most prominent member of a sect goes to animal shelters to find food for the dark forces.
  71.  A man hires unethical doctors to help him experience clinical death and then bring him back to life after a minute. Little does he know that one minute of death feels like an eternity full of horrors.
  72.  You travel home to visit your parents for the holidays. Everything seems normal until you realize that demons have taken over their consciousness.
  73.  A mysterious woman moves into your apartment building. One by one, all of the tenants start hallucinating that monsters chase them and jump into their own deaths.
  74.  Divorced parents are kidnapped together with their son. Both of the parents have been given poison, but there is only one antidote. The boy needs to decide which parent gets to be saved. He has 30 seconds to make that decision.
  75.  A patient with a multiple-personality disorder tells you that you are one of six characters.
  76.  You wake up in bed that is a blood-bath.
  77.  The Government abducts children with genius IQ and trains them to fight the horrors in Area 51.
  78.   A woman who has just given birth at her home is told that the baby is predestined to become the leader of the greatest demonic order in the country.
  79.  A man signs a document with his blood to relinquish his body to a sect.
  80.  A woman enters a sacred cave in India and disappears for good.
  81.  A man opens his eyes in the middle of his autopsy while the coroner is holding his heart.
  82.  You look outside the windows in your house only to see that the view has changed and there is black fog surrounding you.
  83.  The gargoyles from the Notre Dame have come to life and they start terrorizing Paris.
  84.  Somebody rings your doorbell. You open the door and a frightened girl with bloody hands is standing at your doorstep. “You’re late,” you reprimand her.
  85.  You wake up in the middle of the night after a frightful nightmare, so you go to the kitchen to get a glass of water. You turn on the light and a person looking like your identical twin is grinning and pointing a knife at you.
  86.  A renowned book editor receives a manuscript elegantly written by hand. The title grabs her attention and she continues reading page after page. When she finishes, the manuscript spontaneously starts burning, and the editor is cursed forever.
  87.  The last thing you remember before losing consciousness is fighting a shady Uber driver.
  88.  You find yourself in a cage in the middle of a forest and black mythological harpies hovering above the cage.
  89.  A woman wants to quit smoking, so she visits a therapist who is supposed to help her with the use of hypnosis. She goes under and when she wakes up, she feels like a born killer.
  90.  Five hikers get stranded during a horrible storm. One of them kills the weakest and starts burning his body.
  91.  A mother goes in the nursery to check up on the baby and discovers that the baby is missing and, in her place, there is a baby doll.
  92.  A killer is willing to pay a large sum of money to the family of a volunteering victim. A cancer patient contacts the killer. The killer ends up dead.
  93.  The sacred river in a remote Asian village fills up with blood. The last time that happened, all the children in the village died.
  94.  A tall, dark, and handsome stranger invites a blind woman for a romantic date in his botanical garden. The garden is full of black roses in which women’s souls have been trapped. He tells her that she will stay forever with him in his garden.
  95.  A frightened man is trying to lead a werewolf into a trap and kill him with the last silver bullet.
  96.  An architect designs houses for the rich and famous. What he doesn’t show them is that he always leaves room for a secret passageway to their bedrooms, where they are the most vulnerable.
  97.  A man’s DNA was found on a horrible crime scene and he has been charged with murder in the first degree. He adamantly negates any involvement in the crime that has been committed. What he doesn’t know is that he had a twin brother who died at birth.
  98.  Every passenger on the Orient Express dies in a different, and equally mysterious way.  
  99.  A magician needs a volunteer from the audience in order to demonstrate a trick involving sawing a person in half. A beautiful woman steps on the stage. The magician makes her fall asleep, and then he performs the trick. In the end, he disappears. People in the audience start panicking when they notice the blood dripping from the table. The magician is nowhere to be found. The woman is dead.
  100. A mother discovers that her bright son is not human.
  101. Specters keep terrorizing patients in a psychiatric hospital, but nobody believes them.
  102. A man’s mind is locked into an immovable body. This person is being tortured by a psychopath who kills his family members in front of him, knowing that he is in agony and can’t do anything to save them.
  103. A bride-to-be receives a DVD via mail from an unknown sender. She plays the video and disgusted watches a pagan ritual. The people are wearing masks, but she recognizes the voice of her husband-to-be.
  104. A man turns himself to the police although he hasn’t broken the law. He begs them to put him in prison because he had a premonition that he would become a serial killer.
  105. Jack the Ripper is actually a woman who brutally kills prostitutes because her own mother was a prostitute.
  106. A ticking noise wakes her up. It’s a bomb, and she has only four minutes to do something about it.
  107. After a horrible car crash, a walking skeleton emerges from the explosion.
  108. A world-famous violinist virtuoso uses music to summon dark forces.
  109. A philosopher is trying to outwit Death in order to be granted immortality. He doesn’t know that Death already knows the outcome of this conversation.
  110. A beautiful, but superficial woman promises a demon to give him her virginity in exchange for immortality. Once the demon granted her wish, she refused to fulfill her end of the deal. The demon retaliated by making her immortal, but not eternally youthful.
  111. A voice starts chanting spells every time somebody wears the gold necklace from Damask.
  112. Three teenagers beat up a homeless man. The next day all of them go missing.
  113. Thirteen tourists from Poland visit Trakai Island Castle in Vilnius. Their bodies are found washed up the next morning. They are wearing medieval clothes.
  114. A group of extremists ambush the vehicle in which a head of a terrorist cell is transported and rescue him. They go after anybody who was involved in his incarceration.
  115. A hitman is hired to kill a potential heart donor.
  116. A man is attacked by the neighbor’s dog while trying to bury his wife alive.
  117. A woman disappears from her home without a trace. He husband reports her missing. The police start to suspect the husband when they retrieve some deleted messages.
  118. After moving to a new house all the family members have the same nightmares. Slowly they realize that they might be more than nightmares.
  119. A psychopath is drugging his wife, pushing her to commit a suicide so that he could collect the life insurance.
  120. A woman loses her eyesight overnight. Instead, she starts having premonitions.
  121. A vampire prefers albino children.
  122. A man commits murders at night and relives the agony of his victims during the day.
  123. A black horse carriage stops in front of your house. A hand wearing a black glove make an inviting gesture. Mesmerized, you decide to enter the carriage.
  124. Demons rejuvenate by eating kind people’s hearts.
  125. People are horrified to find all of the graves dug out the morning after Halloween.
  126. Men start jumping off building and bridges after hearing a mysterious song.
  127. A voice in your head tells you to stop listening to the other voices. They were not real.
  128. A severed head is hanging from a bridge with a message written in the victim’s blood.
  129. A delusional man brings his screaming children to a chasm.
  130. A 30-year-old woman learns that a baby with the same name as her died at the local hospital 30 years ago.
  131. A vampire donates his blood so that a child with special brain powers can receive it.
  132. A teenager is determined to escape his kidnapper by manipulating him into drinking poison. He doesn’t stop there.
Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter
Josh is the founder and CEO of Squibler.