Writing a great Horror story is all about creating terror and excitement in your reader’s minds while they are reading your scary story. So, If you are struggling to get a horror story idea for your scary or gothic tale that can frighten your readers at night and get them goosebumps while reading then you have landed at the right place.
Related: Famous Horror Short Stories
As we have created the best horror story prompts, each based on horror vocabulary words, along with some great plot twists to help you write your great scary tale that gets read.
If you are an aspiring author, or a first-time horror story writer and don’t know how to begin writing your horror story, then you should first read our blog on How to Write a Horror Story, which briefly explains all the basics of horror writing and all the steps involved in writing a great horror novel or a short horror story.
Related:100 Short Story Ideas
Use the below writing prompts to write your scary short story, flash fiction, horror fiction, or any other work related to the horror genre, or gothic fiction.
101 Scary Story Ideas (Many With a Twist)-
Writing prompt on “Horror”- Lily loved reading fiction, and novels and buying antique books, but everything in her life changed when one day she brought an old 1890 horror novel from an auction.
Plot Twist: Some days later, Lily’s whole family started experiencing some paranormal activities in the house and after a week her grandmother suddenly died with an unknown illness, but one day when Lily was reading the 1890 novel she got shocked to find her grandmother Angelina as a character in the old book.
Writing prompt on “Gothic”- Tim wanted to visit the Gothic cathedral of the town which is said to be built on a graveyard, people say the place was the gateway for spirits and one could see his dead relatives and acquaintances roaming outside the old cathedral and Tim wanted to see someone.
Plot Twist: For the first time after his death Tim saw his classmates who also had got trapped in the burning school bus that day.
Writing Prompt on “Demon”- Every day the demons tried hard to harm Phillip’s family.
Plot Twist: But the demons didn’t know that Philip was not a normal being but the blood of a demon, a half demon half human
Writing Prompt on “Horrific”- After spending the first horrific night at their new house, the Potter family decided to leave the place as soon as the sun shines.
Plot Twist: The next morning the neighbors found the whole potter family lying dead in their backyard.
Related: 500 Words Flash Fiction Stories
Writing Prompt on “Haunted”- Rick and his friends planned the birthday party at a haunted hotel for the excitement but soon at night, they realized that they made the biggest mistake of their life.
Plot Twist: The next day Rick and his friends got shocked to see their own dead bodies lying in the hotel lobby, then they realized what had happened to them last night.
Writing Prompt on “Supernatural”- Jacob never believed in supernatural things until he crossed the path with a shadow which got vanished into the room soon.
Plot Twist: One day Jacob again saw that shadow and started following it which took him to a hidden door in the basement which was the way to the other world.
Writing Prompt on “Paranormal”- After every day experiencing the paranormal activities at the new apartment, eventually, when Jason and his girlfriend talked to the owner they got shocked by the answer when he said that the previous renter had committed suicide in their apartment.
Plot Twist: When Jason saw the picture of the dead renter, he got shocked as he said he sees her every day in the subway.
Writing Prompt on “Devil”- No one exactly knows how the devil gets powers, but some say they are fed on our fear to survive in a place.
Writing Prompt on “Mysterious”- The mysterious man behind all the killing was found out to be dead years ago.
Writing Prompt on “Castle”- The brother of the former king and now the new king of the kingdom got frightened when he heard from his guards that the spirit of the former dead king, yet roam in the castle and will take revenge for his death from his brother who was the main conspirator.
Related: Dark Fantasy Story Ideas
Writing Prompt on “Basement”- Sam had warned Rebecca not to go into the basement.
Plot Twist: One day while playing Rebecca went into the basement and found his father, Sam talking with her mother who had died years ago.
Writing Prompt on “Enchanted”- On the way to the old tomb, the troop found a glowing enchanted tree.
Plot Twist: The tree was the home of the spirits protecting the hidden tomb, but suddenly someone threw a stone at the enchanted tree and woke all the spirits.
Writing Prompt on “Vampire”- Every vampire hates the sunlight, but Christopher was different.
Writing Prompt on “Gloomy”- It was a gloomy night when Eric was driving the car to his home and saw someone standing beside the road but when he reached there he found no one.
Plot Twist: Soon after a while he realized that he was not in the car alone, when he looked back, he got shocked to see Anna, his girlfriend whom he had killed years ago.
Writing Prompt on “Afterlife”- Smith in his laboratory created a pill to experience the afterlife and every night he took it which made him dead for several hours and he could see his body.
Plot Twist: One day he ate all the pills.
Writing Prompt on “Skeleton”- While playing Jacob discovered a skeleton and called his father, but when Adam came, he found nothing.
Plot Twist: The next day Adam found a skeleton on Jacobs’ bed and his son was missing.
Writing Prompt on “Flesh”- The unknown creature loved eating the flesh of its victims with great fear.
Writing Prompt on “Goosebumps”- Hearing the whispering from behind the curtains Elizabeth started feeling goosebumps.
Writing Prompt on “Monster”- An unknown monster creature was only targeting the kids with some disabilities in the town.
Writing Prompt on “Zombies”- When Steve reached his home, he found that his parents had also got infected and turned into zombies.
Writing Prompt on “Witch”- Rebecca didn’t know that her twin sister was a witch until she followed and saw her going into the woods alone.
Writing Prompt on “Scream”- Ben was in a deep sleep when he heard a scream from his children’s room.
Plot Twist: When he reached, he saw the window was broken and a man looking like he was taking the kids into the woods.
Writing Prompt on “Terror”- The terror of the mysterious shadow was so much that no one slept that night.
Plot Twist: The next day Adam confessed that it was the spirit of his dead mother who comes to meet him every day since childhood.
Writing Prompt on “Graveyard”- Peter was yet terrified by the horrible memory of last night when he was crossing from the graveyard at night and felt someone sitting in his car’s back seat.
Writing Prompt on “Raven”- Whenever the killings were happening there was a raven following the victims, and now it was following Alex.
Plot Twist: When Alex killed the raven it got turned into a shadow of his dead servant.
Writing Prompt on “Quiver- Jena started quivering with fear when she saw a car honking outside her house with no one inside.
Writing Prompt on “Black Cat”- The black cat in the Rick house was very strange as she used to stare at us like humans.
Plot Twist: One day Rick told everyone that he believes that the black cat is his sister who had died while saving her cat in the fire.
Writing Prompt on “Bat”- That night the bats were flying all over the sky before the incident had happened.
Writing Prompt on “Ghostly”- Many people at night saw someone sitting at the ghostly bench in the park who witnessed a murder.
Writing Prompt on “Eerie”- Maya got so frightened when she saw an eerie glowing light coming from her basement, but when she tried to go closer to the light it vanished.
Plot Twist: She installed a camera in her basement and one day when the light again emerged, she got shocked to see the footage of a portal that was the door for the spirits coming into this world.
Writing Prompt on “Shivery”- Everyone suddenly started shivering in the room with fear of an unknown shadow standing on the stairs. Soon the number of shadows started increasing and all the doors closed and the lights went off.
Writing Prompt on “Panic”- John said his wife not to create panic when someone was continuously knocking very heavily at their door at midnight.
Writing Prompt on “Grave”- Some nights Rebecca had a nightmare of seeing himself in a grave.
Plot Twist: One day it again happened, but this time she found that it was not her dream, but her adoptive parents were doing some black rituals on her while putting her into a grave in their backyard.
Writing Prompt on “Ugly’‘- Nobody liked the ugly staring painting handing in Jasper’s house, yet he never removed it.
Writing Prompt on “Yelling”- The yelling sound stopped when Bill chanted God’s name with a cross in his hand. One day at night again the yelling started, Bill couldn’t find his cross and the sound of yelling started coming closer to him.
Writing Prompt on “Priest”- After doctors were unable to cure the peculiar behavior of Demi, her mother called the priests.
Plot Twist: Demi killed all the priests and told her mother that if she wants to see Demi alive then let her live in his daughter’s body.
Writing Prompt on “Peculiar”- A sudden chain of bad events started happening when Alex brought a very peculiar painting home that he had bought in the auction.
Writing Prompt on “Bogeyman”- People in the neighborhood got so frightened of the bogeyman that they stopped going out at night.
Plot Twist: One day all children of the neighborhood went missing.
Writing Prompt on “Wrecked”- Everyone in the neighborhood was curious to know about the voices coming from the abandoned wrecked house.
Writing Prompt on “Dreadful”- Smith tried hard to forget the dreadful night that he spent alone in the office.
Writing Prompt on “Death”- All the unfortunate events started after the death of that Normy black pet cat.
Writing Prompt on “Hallucination”- The weird stranger sitting next to Rebecca on the bus tried to hallucinate her.
Writing Prompt on “Creepy”- Mark got scared when someone unknown called him at midnight and just saying hello in a very strange and creepy voice ended the call.
Writing Prompt on “Clown”- Everyone was frightened by the unknown clown in the circus roaming at night.
Plot Twist: The circus manager said that many years ago one artist Tim, performing as a clown died by falling from the roof.
Writing Prompt on “Crawling”- The sound of someone crawling on the roof haunted everyone that night.
Writing Prompt on “Hang”- Everyone in the neighborhood saw a body hanging on the tree near the pond.
Writing Prompt on “Scares”- Liam got shocked and scared when he woke up and found scars all over his hand.
Writing Prompts on “Voices”- Eventually, Steve left his new apartment listening to the unknown voices in his room every night.
Writing Prompt on “Horror-struck”- Keith got horror-struck to see a person looking the same as he passed away friend standing across the road alone that night.
Writing Prompt on “Drip”- William screamed when he saw the blood dripping from the roof sealing.
Writing Prompt on “Coffin”- All the people gathered at the rituals got shocked to see the coffin empty.
Writing Prompt on “Scarecrow”- Mark got scared to find that the scarecrow in his farm was changing direction itself and was pointing at his house.
Writing Prompt on “Bury”- They buried the doll that night but got shocked to see it again in the house.
Writing Prompt on “Evil Spirits”- The priest requested the evil spirits to leave the house.
Plot Twist: The spirit killed everyone in the room except little Alina.
Writing Prompt on “Dracula”- Dracula left the castle as soon as the sun rises.
Plot Twist: Later people found that it was their king Henry, who gets turned into Dracula every night.
Writing Prompt on “Evil Doll”- Nick said to the doctor that his little daughter was normal until one day while playing she found an old doll outside her house and brought her home.
Writing Prompt on “Scared”- Jacob got so scared to see the book’s pages start flipping themselves when no air was blowing around.
Writing Prompt on “Unearthly”- After watching the victim of the incident, everyone said that it was done by an unearthly entity.
Writing Prompt on “Casket”- The casket was filled with old letters written by Noah before his death.
Writing Prompt on “Presence”- The priest said that he could feel the presence of an unknown evil entity in the house.
Plot Twist: The priest said that the house is possessed by the spirit of a girl who has got murdered in the house many years ago by one of the family members.
Writing Prompt on “Cemetery”- Louis had to find a cemetery of Albert to stop all the bad events.
Plot Twist: Finally Louis found the cemetery, but got shocked to see his own name written next to Albert’s grave.
Writing Prompt on “Spider’s Web”- When they reached the hidden place they found the spider’s web all over the place and a pungent smell all around.
Writing Prompt on “Abnormal”- The youngest child of Murphy started behaving abnormally after meeting an unknown lady in the subway.
Plot Twist: When Murphy was reading the newspaper he saw the news of the same lady who had died in the subway accident some days ago.
Writing Prompt on “Nightmares”- Every night Silvia had nightmares of getting followed by herself.
Writing Prompt on “Claustrophobic”- Nelson was claustrophobic, yet he stayed in the wardrobe that whole night to survive.
Writing Prompt on “Bible”- After that weird incident, Rachel always used to sleep with the bible in his hands.
Writing Prompt on “Uncanny”- Every day when Bella was alone in the house, she had an uncanny feeling of someone standing behind her.
Plot Twist: Once she looked back and was shocked to see her dead twin sister.
Writing Prompt on “Entity”- The priest advised the Hopkins family to leave the place as soon as possible as it was possessed by a powerful evil entity.
Writing Prompt on “Dead Dark”- After getting lost on the island the whole troop walked in a dark dead night, but they were not the only people present there.
Writing Prompt on “Spooky”- Alex, the youngest child of Christy, had a weird habit of going to spooky places.
Plot Twist: It had been 9 years since Alex went missing when one day Christy found him standing outside the house, but Alex was same as he was 9 years ago.
Writing Prompt on “Ghostbusters”- When nothing worked Tim called the Ghostbusters.
Writing Prompt on “Frightened”- Albert got so frightened to see the curtains suddenly start moving when there was no air blowing.
Writing Prompt on “Sinister”- The sinister somehow managed to escape but left the clue.
Writing Prompt on “Grin”- Matt found the grinning of an old woman sitting next to him very weird and frightening.
Plot Twist: He got shocked when she calls him by his name and asked why didn’t he come to his funeral. When Matt looked at her again he saw she was his grandmother who had died seven years ago.
Writing Prompt on “Numb”- Everyone in the house got numbed to see blood on the stairs.
Writing Prompt on “Eyeballs”- Rebecca had a hobby of collecting weird stuff and his favorite was marbles which looked like real human eyeballs.
Writing Prompt on “Possessed”- The priest warned the family not to go into the upstairs room until he does the rituals as it is possessed by an evil spirit.
Writing Prompt on “Cursed”- No one was ready to buy the lavish but haunted house in the town, even at a low price as people say the house was cursed and no one survived more than a year in there.
Writing Prompt on “Bizarre”- The bizarre-looking painting in Joe’s home always felt like staring at me.
Writing Prompt on “Ghostly”- Adam got frightened when his pet dog suddenly started looking at an empty space in a ghastly way.
Writing Prompt on “Strange”- Nobody knew about the strange voices coming from the woods.
Writing Prompt on “Haunt”- Every night the picture of the person who died in the road accident haunts Eric as he had left without helping him.
Writing Prompt on “Tortured”- The screaming and sobbing voices of the slaves who were tortured in the castle yet heard by the guards sometimes at night.
Writing Prompt on “Superstition”- Miley always followed the superstition of staying away from black cats as she says it brings a bad omen.
Writing Prompt on “Thrilling”- Justin found it so thrilling to drive the car alone on the abandoned road until he got hit by the strange vehicle which vanished into the woods.
Writing Prompt on “Whisper”- The priest advised the Harper family that whenever they would hear the whisper, they had to chant the god’s name without looking back.
Plot Twist: But one of the family members turned back.
Writing Prompt on “Shadow”- Every staff member of the hotel was scared to see a shadow roaming in the castle.
Writing Prompt on “Unholy”- The presence of something unholy scared every member of the camp trip.
Writing Prompt on “Chilling”- The atmosphere in the farmhouse was very ghostly and chilling.
Writing Prompt on “Fatal”- The joyful dare of the teenagers to visit the abandoned place outside the town soon got changed into a fatal night.
Writing Prompt on “Menacing”- Rob suddenly started shouting in a scary, menacing voice.
Writing Prompt on “Freaked Out”- Bobby freaked out when suddenly his TV got started and started playing the favorite song of his passed away friend.
Writing Prompt on “Moonlight”- In the moonlight, the demons were more powerful, so everyone decided to wait for the next day to face them.
Writing Prompt on “Staring”- An old lady kept on staring at Adam in the subway, but when he told this his girlfriend, he got shocked when she said there was no old lady there.
Writing Prompt on “Calamity”- The priest did some rituals in the house to avert the calamity.
Writing Prompt on “Agony”- Eventually, his agony ended with his death.
Writing Prompt on “RIP”- Everyone in the Smith family got scared to see the RIP sign written everywhere in the room.
Writing Prompt on “Skull”- When digging the ground for gardening Eliana got shocked when she found a skull.
Writing Prompt on “Spell”- When Windy found an old book of spells in his grandpa’s basement, she thought to return it or tell his grandpa about the book but soon she changed her mind and brought it home secretly.
Writing Prompt on “Ash”- When cleaning the room Julia got shocked to see ashes under his bed.
Writing Prompt on “Wicked”- The wicked spirit was only targeting the girls in the family.
Writing Prompt on “Midnight”- No one knew who was playing the piano at midnight when every family member was sleeping in their room.
Writing Prompt on “Vanish”- No one believed Rick’s words until they all saw the strange woman vanishing into the woods as soon as they started following her.
Do watch the below video by Ted-Ed on how to make horror writing suspenseful.
About the Author-
Neel Rana is a YA short story author, flash fiction writer, literary enthusiast, and the founder of Pandora Post. Neel holds a degree in BA Honours in English Literature and has been writing since 2017. Neel’s magnum opus YA short storybook, “The Drunken Ghost” has been well received by the readers.