20 Scary Story Ideas For Your Next Novel

Jackie Pearce
April 22, 2023 | 7 mins

For authors who love to write scary stories, it can be hard to feel like you are coming up with a unique idea.

However, with horror, you do not always have to come up with some type of story that has never been told before. Sometimes you can take a familiar storyline but inject it with your own characters.

Of course, you can come up with your own unique story that has never been told, but getting inspiration for somewhere to start can help a lot.

If you have been looking for scary story ideas to use for your books and give you inspiration, we have a long list to dive through. Take what inspires you or bookmark this list so you always have some ideas to come back to.

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Why Use Writing Prompts?

While a lot of us dream of being able to create unique stories out of our own creative minds, many great writers use prompts to get the ball rolling on their creative ideas and to improve their writing skills.

Even just using one simple idea and turning it into your own unique idea can help you get writing.

You might change it completely and put your own spin on it, but the most important thing is that you overcome writer’s block and start.

Basics Of Writing Scary Stories

While scary stories are a little different than other types of stories, they generally follow a similar format.

You need a beginning, an introduction to the main conflict, a battle with the main conflict, a resolution of said conflict, and a conclusion. Of course, there is more to book writing than that, but you still need to follow the basics of storytelling in order to write a great book.

You should also understand the difference between horror and thriller books to understand where on the spectrum your story lies.

Remember, scary stories are creepy because they play on our greatest fears – they can thrill us at the same time, but they should SCARE.

Sometimes they are supernatural and sometimes they deal with real-life creepiness.

Related: Horror Book Title Generator

Scary Story Ideas

Let’s dive into some various options and prompts you can use to tell your scary stories. You could even combine a few of the prompts into one ultimate horror story.

#1 – Haunted house

A creepy story list would not be complete without mentioning a classic: a haunted house story. This could also be modern and include something like a haunted AirBnB.

#2 – Someone is home alone

Most of us already ready scared of being alone in our house at night, but if you add in a creepy element like things moving around unexpectedly, it is bound to create some goosebumps.

#3 – Driving alone at night

You never know who is around each and every corner, but being alone on the road adds a whole other level of spooks to it.

#4 – Driving alone in the mountains

Similar to driving alone at night, when you add in nature to your story, it adds a whole new layer of creeps to it. It does not have to be in the mountains, although some famous horror movies do follow this idea.

#5 – Ghost trapped inside a household item

There are some great horror stories out there about ghosts being caught in items, such as in a old doll bought from a vintage store.

#6 – Camping trip gone wrong

Camping is always so much fun, but camping trips meeting bad weather or a serial killer is a guaranteed creepy story for a lot of readers.

#7 – A weekend getaway gone wrong

This could be a story of newlyweds, friends on a trip, or even just a solo trip for someone to take a break and get away from it all. What happens when it does not go according to plan?

#8 – Someone is left alone in an office building

Most of us have had the experience of being the last one in a classroom, building, or other space and had that unsettling feeling of wondering if we were alone.

#9 – Young people decide to try out a Ouija board

Any spooky story with a Ouija board is always entertaining to read, especially with young people who do not know any better than to play with it. This could also go for any other item used to communicate with the dead or with evil spirits.

#10 – Someone is being blackmailed

The thought of being blackmailed is enough to send chills up most people’s spines. There are a lot of ways you could go with this angle, too, from a jealous lover to an old business partner.

#11 – A babysitter is experiencing something weird

Being alone in a house is scary enough, but being a young woman alone in a house and being responsible for a child while battling something scary is always a scary story.

#12 – Halloween night

Halloween night is a classic backdrop for any horror story to occur. You could take it in so many different directions, from the paranormal to serial killers, but Halloween works as a great starter point for any story.

#13 – Someone discovers a friend is not who they said they were

Imagine you are with a close friend and you mention an old memory you have together, but they do not remember it at all and think it never happened. What if someone is impersonating your friend?

#14 – Someone is fired and then goes on a bloody rampage

Does anything else need to be said? Toxic offices can be a nightmare all on their own, even without a rampage, but do what you want with the story.

#15 – A ghost is trying to communicate with a character, but they cannot figure out why

Imagine that creepy things are happening around someone’s house, but it does not seem for a reason of possession or an evil spirit.

Instead, something from the other side is desperate to get a message across but the main character cannot figure out what it is. Will they figure it out before it is too late?

#16 – A haunted, old battlefield

Considering how many people have died on battlefields, they are a perfect location for a haunted ghost story.

#17 – Technology gone wrong

While many of us love what technology does for our lives, what happens when technology leans toward the dark side? It can be especially terrifying with how much technology is all around us and how much it knows about us.

#18 – Someone you know goes missing

What happens if someone you know just disappears into thin air? How do you begin to piece it together and figure out what happened?

#19 – Your main character wakes up in a place they did not fall asleep

What would happen if you woke up in a place you did not fall asleep? Were you kidnapped? Had a sleep disorder that caused you to wake up and take yourself somewhere new? Did you blackout and not remember the night? There are so many paths you could take for this kind of story.

#20 – The neighbors have a dark secret

Everyone is always curious who their neighbors are, but what happens if they do some strange things?

Ready To Put Your Book Together?

From the minute you commit to learning how to write a horror story to your book launch party, publishing your own book is no small feat. But selecting the right path, company, and support system can help you on your journey.

In this path assessment, you will go through the help of figuring out which is the right path for you and your book.

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