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101 Horror Writing Prompts That Are Freaky As Hell

Looking for some scary story ideas for your next writing project?

Sometimes, a good scary prompt idea is all you need to get started on a dark story your readers won’t be able to put down.

And that is the goal. What’s a horror story without white-knuckle suspense?

You want your readers at the edge of their seats, unable to stop though they know something bad is about to happen.

You also want to reward them for reading to the end and leave them wanting more.

So, how can this collection of horror writing prompts help with that?

What Are the Main Elements of Horror Writing?

List of most common horror themes and tropes to write on .

  • 66 Horror Writing Prompts

Halloween Writing Prompts

Mystery writing prompts, psychological horror story ideas, “the monster you know” story ideas, ghost story writing prompts, funny horror story ideas, horror story ideas.

Every good story needs an idea that takes root in your imagination and doesn’t let go. Horror stories in particular need to affect you a certain way. If they don’t sound an alarm in your head, they won’t sound one in the heads of your readers, either.

They need to reach into your psyche, take a scrap of memory, and turn it into something that would keep you up at night.

And as you’ve no doubt read already, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Look through the prompts that follow, and choose one that calls out to you and lingers in your imagination.

Paint a picture in your mind of the characters involved. Give yourself a reason to invest in them by giving each one some interesting backstory.

Then set a timer and write.

Since Earl Horace Walpole’s gothic horror The Castle of Otranto hit shelves in 1764, English readers have clamored for dark plots that excite primitive instincts and tickle our fear bones.

Many horror authors leverage shadowy impulses by sprinkling stories with uncomfortable happenings and gruesome fatalities.

But that’s not all it takes to write within the genre, begging the question: What are the main elements of horror? Traditionally, there are five: suspense, fear, violence, gore, and the supernatural.

  • Suspense : Creating anxious tension is a critical component of horror as it keeps the audience glued to the story. They need to find out what happens! Traditionally, suspense is valued as a sophisticated form of horror, and building it well is a skill.
  • Fear : Confronting fearful things is a powerful emotion with chemical reactionary consequences, making it a hallmark of horror writing. 
  • Violence : Savagery is scary because it’s inextricably linked to death and pain — two of the four great human fears.
  • Gore : Brains and guts are a cornerstone of classic horror. For better or worse, our neural pathways light up when confronted with intestines, brain matter, and gushing fluids. Successful horror writers keep readers and watchers engaged by deploying gore effectively.  
  • Supernatural: The main difference between “true crime” and “horror” is a supernatural element. While horror stories draw people in with realism, they usually feature an emotional detachment valve in the form of an explicit or implicit otherworldly presence. 

Vampires, ghosts, zombies, and murderers are big-picture mainstays of the horror genre. But what are some other, more detailed tropes associated with scary storytelling? 

  • Babysitter Alone in Big House: The naive babysitter trope is oft-repeated because it works. The sitter acts as a stand-in for the reader or audience in that, like you, they’re vulnerable. Horror-sitters are the character conduit through which readers and viewers can experience the impending fear. 
  • Manipulative Vampires: Maybe it’s their piercing eyes, snappy attire, or mysterious penchant for the “nightlife.” Whatever the case, people stan vampires, and sensual and manipulative ones are an incredibly effective horror character trope. 
  • Ghost-Haunted House: Ghost-haunted houses are a recurring horror motif. Whether you approach it from a traditional or modern angle is up to you. Both can work.
  • Creepy Kid: In real life, it’s kind to see all kids as precious and special, no matter their quirks. But when it comes to Horror World, creepy kids are a dime a dozen! Sometimes they’re the main attractions or “red herrings” (which we’ll get to more below); other times, they’re supernatural catalysts that serve as a story’s MacGuffin. Whichever the case, unnerving kids go a long way when devising a disturbing scene and fomenting suspense.
  • The Nonbeliever: Most horror stories have at least one character whose lack of fear or faith (in the story’s “supernatural” element) lands them six feet under. 
  • The Red Herring: A “red herring” is a false clue. The term dates back to the 1400s to describe a culinary preparation for fish, but the first known use as a euphemism for “distraction” appeared in 1884. 
  • Isolation: Few things frighten people more than being all alone while danger looms. As such, isolation can be a helpful trope when crafting horror stories.
  • Graveyard Chase: A well-conceived chase around a graveyard is another horror mainstay that continues to deliver. Try adding a twist to modernize the trope.
  • Distorting Mirrors: Whether a single reflecting glass or a full-on maze, using mirrors as a motif is a tangible and effective way to signal distortion. 
  • Aliens and Cultists: The human psyche can’t resist rubbernecking when confronted with the possibility of aliens and the sociopathic underbelly of cults. Resultantly, they work well as engaging frameworks for horror stories.

101 Horror Writing Prompts

Whether you’re writing for a special occasion or just to experiment with the horror genre, any of the scary story prompts in the following groups should get you started.

Go with your gut on this one, and choose an idea that feels both familiar and provocative. Then give it a go!

1. A mysterious gift from an estranged aunt arrives on Halloween with a crystal ball and a note addressed only to you, her godchild.

2. One of the trick-or-treaters bears an uncanny resemblance to your departed sibling and repeats that sibling’s last words before picking your sibling’s favorite candy bar.

3. On Halloween night, you find a box at your door that contains a strange note and a little something from each of the people who have hurt you in the past year.

4. On this Halloween night, your guinea pig won’t stop running in circles, and your dog keeps staring at the door, emitting a low growl.

5. You run out for candy on Halloween afternoon to find the streets empty and the store abandoned. A single car cruises into the lot and pulls into the spot next to yours.

6. Every time you went to answer the doorbell, no one was there. The next day, you heard about the missing children. The worst part? Your kids spent Halloween with your ex and were supposed to come trick-or-treating last night.

7. You arrive home on Halloween to a large package from your new boss, who’d bought every piece of your favorite candy from local stores. The note reads, “Save some for me.”

8. You’re watching TV on Halloween night when your show is interrupted by a faintly familiar someone declaring their love for you and saying they’ve watched you all your life.

9. You come home to find a stranger walking through your home, sipping your wine and admiring your collected antiquities. They startle at your approach and act as though you’re the intruder.

10. The night before Halloween, you have a dream in which you wake up to see a dark shape standing outside your closet. You wake up screaming with your hands around your spouse’s throat.

11. Election day looms, and Halloween feels more ominous than ever. You’ve kept the lights off, but that doesn’t stop one visitor from leaving a note: “Knew you lived here.”

12. Your best friend has gone missing, and someone keeps leaving small reminders of them in your mailbox. You see someone approach to deliver something else, and your heart nearly stops when you recognize them.

13. You’ve always wanted a dog, so when a rain-soaked mutt shows up on your front step, you let him in. Unfortunately, something else hitched a ride.

14. Someone moves into the apartment next door and starts playing loud music at night. You call the police, who find the guy dead holding a note with your name and address.

15. Someone keeps replacing items in your home with different objects that look vaguely familiar. No one else has a key to your home, and there are no signs of forced entry.

16. You bake some cookies to share with the new neighbor, but the terrified woman backs away from the plate, shaking her head. Someone from inside calls out, “I’ll have those.”

17. Someone at work has offered to do a tarot card spread for you, and you politely decline. You find a single tarot card in your mailbox when you return home.

18. You don’t remember wandering alone on a country road as a small child, but someone does. And he wants to make sure you’re not around to testify against him.

.ugb-360683b .ugb-blockquote__item{background-color:#625656 !important;border-radius:50px !important}.ugb-360683b .ugb-blockquote__item:before{background-color:#625656 !important}.ugb-360683b .ugb-blockquote__text{font-size:18px !important;color:#ffffff}.ugb-360683b .ugb-inner-block{text-align:center} 19. Someone has gotten to your laundry before you and left it neatly folded in piles on top of the dryer. A note reads, “For more TLC, knock on #303.”

20. The window of your apartment leads to a fire escape, but twice you’ve come home to find it open. Nothing is missing. But someone keeps leaving a ring on your kitchen table.

21. You order a Christmas wreath for your door and the company sends you a package with money instead. The note reads, “Keep half. I’ll pick up the rest in 72 hours.”

22. A child knocks on your door and tells you you’ll be visited by three people that night. One of them will show you your future. The child’s face reminds you of someone.

23. Your best friend is dating a woman who seems familiar to you — and not in a good way. Turns out, she’s got a bad feeling about you, too, and she warns your friend.

24. You receive a surprise delivery of a holiday flower arrangement with a note from someone who went to jail for assault. The message reads, “I’ll be home for Christmas.”

25. An abuser from your past has written you a long letter of apology, and you agree to meet them for coffee. You find your favorite coffee place deserted — on Black Friday.

26. You broke up with your sweetheart when he lied about taking you to the prom and begged you to run away with him so he could escape an abusive home. He’s back.

27. An old friend, who had tried to warn you about an ex-boyfriend years ago, has come back to town to run a diner. Within a week, known bullies start disappearing.

28. For the past three dates, the guy you met ended up dead and posed as if proposing. A note on each one’s empty chest cavity reads, “My heart belongs to [your name].”

.ugb-006bdc4 .ugb-blockquote__item{background-color:#762f2f !important;border-radius:50px !important}.ugb-006bdc4 .ugb-blockquote__item:before{background-color:#762f2f !important}.ugb-006bdc4 .ugb-blockquote__text{font-size:18px !important;color:#ffffff}.ugb-006bdc4 .ugb-inner-block{text-align:center} 29. You’re with a friend at the home of the guy she’s dating. In the bathroom, you find a box with jewelry for almost every birthstone. Yours is the only one missing. You hear a scream.

30. Everyone keeps telling you your memories can’t be trusted. You’re safe with them. They’ll protect you. But you haven’t left the house in years.

31. You thought it was cute when your little sister wanted to wear your aunt’s high heels and pose with a hand on her hip. But your sister had an uncanny way with accidents.

32. You never expected to win the ‘57 Chevy from the church raffle. Neither did the car’s owner, who immediately tried to buy it back. He didn’t respond well to “No, thanks.”

33. Every time you saw anything like “Tornado Warning” or “Flash Flood” in the news, you knew someone would end up dead. And your ex would blame the weather.

34. You come home to a dozen roses from a guy who’s been telling his friends you’re dating, and you get angry. For some reason, though, everyone you know is on his side.

35. Your “Secret Santa” leaves an expensive bottle of wine with a note, “Drink me.” You call a familiar number and hear the phone ring on the other side of your door.

36. Your dad has a secret known only to his twin brother, who mysteriously disappeared but left a note with a box of his belongings in the attic. You take it with you when you leave.

37. You just broke up with the person who’s catering your best friend’s wedding. They also made the cake.

38. Some of your in-laws have decided to deliver their sibling from you. When they cross the line, you make a promise to them and to your spouse. One by one, they disappear.

39. Your health is steadily declining, and you don’t know why. Neither do your doctors, who test for the usual health issues and find nothing. Then someone calls to warn you.

40. Your estranged father sends you a porcelain doll — the one he swears you told him you wanted. It has the face and hair of your missing mother. And her eyes are glued open.

41. You’ve just told your family you’re asexual, and they seem to accept it. Out of the blue, the handsome guy next door shows up to ask you out, and your parents quietly nod.

42. A cop pulls you over for driving a few miles over the speed limit, tells you to get out of your car, slams you against the hood and whispers in your ear, “This is from your ex.”

43. You emailed your fiancé for months before meeting him for the first date. Now, you’re getting strange phone calls from someone claiming to be his wife and telling you to run.

44. You stood numb at the coffin of a close friend and flinched when your father rested a hand on your shoulder. “Had to be done,” he whispered. “Remember the bigger picture.”

45. A small package bears the name of your sister, who died five years ago. It contains a pendant that matches her own and a note asking you to activate it by chanting, “Sisters Forever.”

46. Your elderly neighbors died on the same day of an apparent suicide pact. In their will, they left their pug to you, along with a small box of what they called “magical items.”

47. You receive a note penned by your best friend, who died in a car accident the month before, His parents had found it in his room and hand-delivered it, barely looking at you.

.ugb-c65fb79 .ugb-blockquote__item{background-color:#3b492e !important;border-radius:50px !important;text-align:center !important}.ugb-c65fb79 .ugb-blockquote__item:before{background-color:#3b492e !important}.ugb-c65fb79 .ugb-blockquote__text{font-size:18px !important;color:#ffffff} 48. You pounce on a new opening in the apartment building close to your favorite coffee place. The first night there, you wake up to ghostly shapes surrounding your bed.

49. At your first slumber party, your friend’s older brother surprised you during a late-night run to the bathroom. He died a decade later in prison. Now you see him in your dreams.

50. Your home is the high-tech brainchild of your best friend, who bequeathed it to you (rather than to his wife). It anticipates your every need and desire.

51. You’ve been having dreams about a door that shows up in your room. In one, you walk through it and see someone you love being murdered . You warn them the next day.

52. You’re the lone survivor of a horrific train crash, and everywhere you go, you see the ghosts of some of the passengers. Some have told you the crash was no accident.

53. You’re looking through your mother’s possessions when a note slips out of the book she’d been reading, warning you about “the ghost who runs this house.”

54. Your new boyfriend is obsessed with ancient artifacts, but when something hitches a ride on his latest find, you witness disturbing changes in his behavior.

55. Your life is already complicated when your boss asks you to stay at his home to care for his dog while he’s away. You soon learn the house is as mischievous as the dog.

56. You’re an editor for the college literary journal, and you’ve been getting poetic hate mail from a student who’s angry you didn’t choose their poems for the latest issue.

57. Your favorite neighbor is a trans woman named Lani who looks out for you. She warns you about a guy down the hall, who keeps trying cheesy pick-up lines to get you to smile.

58. Your co-workers tease you about your weight gain. One is found dead in the bathroom, her mouth stuffed with candy. Everyone but the custodian suspects you.

59. An anonymous admirer sends you a singing telegram with a chilling question. Now you have less than 24 hours to sing your answer in a public square, with a flash mob.

60. You sign up for wine deliveries but are disappointed by the first bottle you open and taste. On the label, you find a crass, insulting note from an old enemy.

61. Your date finds out your BFF is asexual and starts asking intrusive and insensitive questions. When your friend shuts him down, he insults and warns you both.

62. You’re working the dinner rush, and a customer loudly insists on changing her order the moment you deliver it. Someone quietly follows her as she storms out the door.

63. You’re having an open house for your new shop, and you catch a customer shoplifting. She says, “I was told to come in here and take these. You’re being watched.”

64. You arrive at your new house, and the keys from the realtor don’t work. Someone answers the door with a disarming smile. “So, you’re here about the room? Come in!”

65. Your date is going well until you reveal that you have a dog. “I’m not really a dog person,” you hear. When you get a bad feeling and end the date, things get messy.

66. Your journal goes missing, and within a week, a goofy, adorable guy starts showing up at your usual stops. He seems surprised to see you, but something isn’t quite right.

Creepy Writing Prompts

67. The old tunnel had been blocked off for as long as anyone could remember, but late at night, you could still hear the faint screams echoing from deep within. 

68. As you walk past the abandoned house on your way home from school, you notice one of the curtains move slightly in an upstairs window, but the house has been empty for years.

69. You wake up suddenly in the middle of the night and see two small handprints on the foggy bathroom mirror that are far too small to belong to anyone in your family.  

70. Every night when you go to sleep, you feel an uncomfortable pricking sensation on your skin, yet every morning, you find strange symbols carved into your arms that you don’t remember making. 

71. While exploring the attic, you find an old doll that looks eerily like you did as a child, and when you pick it up, its eyes suddenly open.  

72. The scraping sound from the closet stops whenever you turn on the light, but it always returns as soon as the room goes dark again.

73. Every time you glance in the mirror, your reflection behaves slightly differently than you do – blinking at the wrong time or moving too late.  

74. You wake up covered in mud and scratches with no memory of where you’ve been all night, and the soles of your shoes are worn through as if you had walked for miles.

75. Lately, your pets have refused to go into certain rooms of your house, but you have no idea what frightens them so badly about those areas.  

76. You discover a trap door hidden under an old Persian rug in your basement and shining a light into it reveals a set of footsteps descending into the darkness below.

77. You wake up one morning to find all the mirrors in your home have been turned around to face the wall, even though you live alone.  

78. Your television is switched on in the dead of night, the static slowly resolving into shapes, and what looks back at you from the screen makes your blood run cold.

79. You keep finding sticky notes around your house with messages written on them in unfamiliar handwriting, like “GET OUT” or “I’M WATCHING YOU SLEEP.”

80. Every time you look at a clock, the time is exactly 3 minutes slow, though all the clocks in your home are set correctly and keep perfect time when others view them.  

81. On your way home, you notice a figure standing motionless at the end of the street, staring directly at your house with its face hidden in the shadows of its hooded robe.  

82. Your dog comes running inside with its leash still attached but hanging limply, yet when you call the number on the leash’s tag, your own cell phone starts ringing from within your house.

83. Your computer camera activates unexpectedly while you’re working, and you see your own bedroom behind you from an impossible angle near the ceiling, suggesting someone is watching through the camera right now.

84. You hear your name called out softly in an empty room, and even though the voice sounds familiar, you live alone, and you know no one else is inside.

Spooky Writing Prompts

85. Every night when you lie in bed, you hear the floorboards outside your room creaking as if someone is pacing back and forth, but every time you quickly open the door to check, the hallway is empty. 

86. While exploring the woods behind your new house, you discover a crumbling old stone well, and when you peer down into the darkness, you think you see pale faces staring back up at you.  

87. Your reflection in mirrors and windows often moves independently, quickly looking away whenever you try to catch it, watching you from impossible angles that don’t align with where you’re standing.

88. An unfamiliar chat window opens on your computer screen with only the message “I can see you through your webcam” written inside it by an unseen sender.  

89. Plants within your home have been dying overnight no matter where you place them, the leaves and stems drained of all color as if the life has been completely sucked out.

90. You wake up to find a pile of dead birds on your lawn, their wings broken and necks bent at odd angles as if they crashed directly into the ground from high altitudes.  

91. The old paintings hanging on the walls of your recently inherited mansion seem to follow you with their eyes, and occasionally, you notice mysterious new figures added in the backgrounds that disappear by morning.

92. Turning on all the faucets causes blood to drip out instead of water, yet when others in your home check them, the liquid running from the pipes is perfectly clear.

93. You wake from a nightmare convinced someone was standing silently at the foot of your bed, only to find the imprint of two bare feet seared into your bedroom carpet right where the figure was standing. 

94. Whenever you look in the bathroom mirror late at night, you see dead relatives standing silently behind you who disappear when you turn around to check if anyone is there.  

95. The baby monitor in the nursery suddenly emits a strange crackling sound followed by a singsong voice you don’t recognize whispering your baby’s name over and over.

96. Your shadow appears to have a mind of its own, often following you more slowly or quickly than it should and reaching areas you know your body has not moved to.

97. Photos taken with phones or cameras in and around your home show blurry figures lurking in the background that do not match any of the people in the images. 

98. Any writing you leave out overnight – from sticky notes to notebooks – has mysterious reoccurring symbols added in unfamiliar handwriting scattered among the existing text. 

99. You wake in the middle of the night to the sound of your locked window being forced open from the outside, but when you jump out of bed to check, it’s closed securely as if nothing happened. 

100. From your garden, you can see directly into your neighbor’s bathroom mirror, but instead of the neighbor’s reflection, you swear you sometimes see your own face staring back with an expression you don’t recognize.

101. While searching through the attic in your recently purchased Victorian home, you find an old portrait of a severe-looking woman whose eyes seem to follow you around the room; later that night, you wake to find the same woman standing at the foot of your bed, silently watching you sleep.

How Do You Come Up with Horror Ideas?

Coming up with fresh, frightening ideas is key to crafting an effective horror story. While horror inspirations can spring from ordinary events and observations, it helps to have strategies to unleash your most sinister creativity. Here are some tips for conjuring bone-chilling tales:

  • Mine your nightmares. Dreams often access our deepest fears. Pay attention to recurring nightmares or startling images from your subconscious, as these can inspire terrifying new monsters or situations.
  • Twist tropes. Take common horror archetypes like haunted houses, demonic possession, or slashers and put a new spin on them. Surprise readers by changing elements they assume to be familiar.
  • Extrapolate fears. Think about phobias you or others have, like darkness, insects, or tight spaces. Imagine those fears exponentially intensified to petrifying extremes.
  • Research real horror. Study disturbing historical events, murders, superstitions, or unexplained phenomena and fictionalize them in a new horror setting.
  • Observe people. Carefully watch those around you and look for small creepy details in their appearances or behaviors that could be expanded into something sinister.

With an observant eye and inventive mind, creators can find endless inspiration from both mundane moments and their most nightmarish dreams. Putting ordinary things in an ominous light or letting one’s imagination run wild with “what if” scenarios generate the kinds of situations and figures that fuel truly frightening tales. 

Pay attention to the world around and inside you, and plumb the depths of your creativity, and you’ll never run short on horror ideas.

horror essay

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Go Forth and Terrify

Armed with this generous sampling of horror story prompts, what stories are brewing in your mind as you read this?

No need to stick to exact details, either.

If any part of the writing prompts you just read teased your imagination and became the kernel of a story, run with what you’ve got.

And don’t worry if the first sentence isn’t perfect (you’ll probably change it, anyway). Just write.

May you love this new story every bit as much as your readers will.

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110+ Horror Writing Prompts (With A Twist)

Give yourself the chills with this list of over 110 horror writing prompts. From scary ghost stories to creepy stories about animals and monsters. Now is the time to write your own horror story , just like Goosebumps or The Haunting of Aveline Jones. 

From the gory to the scary, from the monstrous to the supernatural, from the humorous to the wacky, we have it all! Use this horror writing prompts generator to get a random horror writing idea to write about:

Keep on reading for a list of horror story prompts.

Most horror stories are based on one thing, fear. And it’s always a good idea to have a bit of that in your own life. Fear makes us all think differently, it makes us do things we wouldn’t normally do. And it’s the same thing that makes horror stories so scary. It’s a good idea to think of something that scares you, and then write about it. As a starting point, we have provided you with this list of horror prompts. For some of these gory ideas, we have included a twist, while for others it’s up to you how the story goes!  Feel free to use any of these prompts in your writing, and to expand on any of the ideas.

List of Horror Writing Prompts

This list of horror writing prompts will you give you the well-needed inspiration for a good horror story:

  • The Haunting Hospital: A small girl named Julie is walking down a country road when she finds a cemetery and realises it is her home town. She goes to her house and finds that it has been turned into a hospital. She finds her father and her mother there. Her father tells her that she is now a part of the hospital and that she must work to be paid. Julie and her mother go to work as nurses.
  • Chasing Shadows: A girl named Becky is walking in her neighbourhood when she sees a little boy playing in the street. Becky runs over to him and asks him what he is doing. He tells her that he is a little monster and that he will kill her if she does not leave him alone. Becky takes off running and the little monster chases her.
  • Park of Peril: A little girl named Melissa is walking through the park when she finds a little boy who tells her that he will eat her if she does not take him home. Melissa takes off running and the little boy chases her.
  • Claws of the Night: This one involves a kid named Angela. One night she goes to sleep and when she wakes up the next morning her hands have turned into the claws of a cat.
  • The Poisoned Harvest: A boy named Billy is walking down the street one day when he sees a homeless man. He notices some fruit by the man. When the homeless man is not looking, Billy steals the fruit. Later on, he goes home and eats this piece of fruit. The fruit is poisoned, and Billy goes blind.
  • Carnivorous Confrontation: A story of a kid who loves to eat the flesh of dead animals, but one day a man appears and tells him not to eat them.
  • Invisible Menace: Write a story about a young boy who is terrorized by an invisible monster.
  • Nightmare Room: The invisible monster is eating kids and it is in their room all the time.
  • Enchanted Chaos: A handsome prince on a quest to learn magic wants to marry the beautiful princess, but the kingdom is being attacked by demons, ghosts, and…his dad.
  • Insanity’s Feast: The whole little town goes insane. They start killing people with their mouths. They kill them in the most gruesome way.
  • Shuttered Nightmares: A serial killer is taking photos of their victims. He is telling them how he is going to kill them. And then he starts his killing.
  • Witch’s Chains: Two kids named ‘Bud’ and ‘Chip’ got separated from their parents. They live next door to a witch and are unable to leave the house. One day, the witch makes their parents get into a container, and leaves them in the backyard, chained to a tree.
  • Enchanted Camp: A summer camp where a powerful wizard casts a spell on the children to make them do his bidding.
  • The Weeping Specter: A ghost that follows you around and cries on your shoulder and if you get sad it gets angry and turns into a ghostly voice that spooks people.
  • Haunted Truths: The lead character is haunted by a ghost who knows the truth about their past.
  • Distrustful Shadows: A girl named Dana, who works at a daycare centre, doesn’t trust anybody. This causes her to make sure she does everything she can to stop any other person from ever entering her place.
  • Realm of Nightmares: One day, the princess wakes up in a terrible nightmare. She is being chased by something, she cannot see what it is. And then she hears the voice of her mother, telling her to run away. She goes to her room and sees that the covers on her bed are in a shape that reminds her of the monster she just saw. She knows she cannot sleep in this place. She goes to the other side of her room and sees a window. She goes to the window and finds that it is an opening to a new world…
  • Witch’s Wrath: A girl named Misty lives with her parents and their next-door neighbour who is an evil witch. One day her father and the witch get into a fight and the witch accidentally kills him.
  • Brief Awakening: A boy named Sam is suffering from a terrible disease and he only has days to live. He’s in a coma, and he’s not responding to any medical treatments. Until one night he starts to experience some new changes…
  • Vengeful Wishes: A little girl named Mina finds a genie. The genie grants her 3 wishes. Because Mina has been a victim of bullying, she uses all her wishes to punish her bullies with ghoulish consequences. 
  • Jar of Horrors: One day, a boy named Marcus went out to take a walk, and he found a jar that he thought was full of gold. Marcus had also found a bag that was heavier than he could lift, but he drags it home anyway. When he opens to bag he discovers something disgusting…
  • Game Over: A creepy character named Nemesis is trying to kill Luke, who plays video games and lives in his basement. At night, Luke hears voices telling him to hide. He goes to the basement and a creature knocks him out. He ends up as a character in his gruesome game. 
  • Bracelet of Resurrection: A boy named Josh loses his best friend to a freak accident. He finds the other half of a bracelet he gave his friend that day. He hangs on to it until one night the bracelet brings his best friend back to life.
  • The Ghost Writer: Write a story titled, The Ghost Writer. Write about the ghost of someone who haunts you.
  • Eternal Specter: Write a scary ghost story about a man who is cursed to spend eternity as a ghost.
  • Hidden World: A boy named Brody is having problems adjusting to life in his new home after his parents divorced. He tries to see his dad, but they don’t want him around. One day he discovers a secret passage to a hidden underground world where his father now lives.
  • Stuttering Shadows: A story about a young man named Kenny, who works as a garbage man. He also has a terrible stuttering problem that he has to deal with. One day he discovers that his stuttering is getting worse and worse and he becomes scared to death because of it. He thinks that the talking squirrel next to him is a demon.
  • Haunted Corner: Write a story about an object in your room that becomes haunted. 
  • Ghostly Deception: A boy named Bryce has been hiding out from his abusive father. One day his father is gone and his dad’s new girlfriend walks into the house. He thinks it’s the ghost of his dead mother. The ghost shows him that his dad’s new girlfriend has been lying to him about how his birth mother died.
  • Trapped in Terror: A young boy named Spencer and his sister Sarah, are on a camping trip when they find a box of mysterious objects. When they open it, one of the items shoots at them, striking Sarah and trapping her in a pod inside a tree. While locked inside the tree, Sarah meets an evil doll named Alice.
  • Possessed Playtime: A young girl named Cassandra is babysitting her neighbour’s two kids. One day the kids eat some forbidden foods and a demon spirit possesses one of the kids and turns him into an evil creature who haunts the neighbourhood.
  • Eyes of the Bunny: A little girl named Hayley discovers a secret house that no one in the neighbourhood knows about, and is welcomed inside by a red-eyed white bunny. One day when Hayley goes to a party, her newfound friend kidnaps her and traps her inside this mysterious house. 
  • Eternal Echo: Write a horror story about a horrible accident or a nightmare that has haunted you your whole life.
  • Drowning Destiny: A boy named Joshua falls into a river and is about to drown when he gets rescued by a beautiful mermaid. She tells him that he will die the next day because that is his destiny. 
  • Keys of Madness: A young boy named Alex finds a set of glowing door keys and uses them to enter a huge abandoned mansion. When he explores the mansion, he is visited by a dark spirit who attacks him and drives him insane.
  • Alien Abduction: A boy named Sam wakes up one day to find that his parents have been missing for over a year. The day he discovers them, they tell him that he was kidnapped by aliens, and they built an experimental human brainwashing machine. 
  • Dreams of Stella: A young boy named Toby starts having strange dreams of a girl named Stella. One day, he sees Stella when he’s on a roller coaster, but it turns out to be a ghost who is trying to take over his mind. 
  • Eye of the Leaf: A little boy named Ben is playing outside one day when he finds a strange leaf. When he picks it up, it turns into a leaf with a red eye and starts to follow him. 
  • Vengeful Spirit: Write a horror story about a ghost who just wants to kill the person who called him a monster when he was alive. 
  • Nightmare Adoption: A young girl named Annabelle is adopted by a family that lives in a very old house. One day when is playing outside, she is kidnapped by a scary man named the Nightman.
  • Stuffed Shadows: A young boy named Jack gets lost in the woods and finds an old abandoned house. He enters the house and finds a huge stuffed animal. When he touches it, it wakes up and attacks him.
  • Depths of Fear: Imagine your worst fear and write a scary story about it.
  • A Rude Awakening: Write a horror story titled, A Rude Awakening. What would you do if you woke up in a place that you weren’t familiar with?
  • The Mysterious Case: What happens when someone goes missing and no one knows where they’ve gone?
  • Dreamstalker : Write about a monster that might be stalking you in your dreams.
  • Write a story titled, When The Wind Blows. This story could be about a sudden change in weather that comes with a new problem.
  • Mirror Demon: Continue the following story: Suddenly, the demon in the mirror reappeared and she began to scream.
  • Doctor’s Dread: When the doctor gave her the news, she screamed out loud and ran in circles.
  • Safekeeping Shadows: In her final hours, she told me to be thankful that I had done my best to keep her safe. That I had made sure no evil would ever hurt her again. 
  • Camping Secrets: Continue the following horror story: As I was growing up, every year our family went camping in the woods. My grandfather passed away a few years ago. He was a rich man, and I wanted to visit his grave at the cemetery. 
  • Forest of Shadows: While walking around the forest, I came across a monstrous-looking creature. I was scared and ran back home. The next day, I decided to go back and see what the monster was doing. 
  • Echoes of Dread: Write down your biggest fear. And then write a story based on this fear.
  • Silent Stalker: When I looked in her file I saw that she had gotten five serious stab wounds. But, I could not see any sign of her attacker. Her wounds were all over her body and all over her arms.
  • Arachnid Terror: After discovering that a spider was sleeping in her bed, a young girl named Amy screams and runs away, locking herself in the bathroom.
  • Electric Fury: A scientific team is doing research on electricity. They find a very strong cell that could create many things when it is exposed to electricity. Suddenly the electricity static comes alive. It gets angry and attacks the scientists. 
  • Imaginary Friend: A little girl named Amber loves to play with her new imaginary friend. She calls him “Giant” and she makes up stories about him. She believes that he is her friend for real.
  • Melting Nightmare: Continue the following story: As it continued attacking, it even caused my teeth to start to melt off of my jaw. My skin would start to burn, and my hair would become brown. 
  • Friday Night Terrors: It’s Friday. The TV is on, and you are wide awake. As you lie there listening, you begin to feel tired. And just as your eyes begin to close, you hear a creak of the floorboards. Your eyes snap open. What you see scares the living hell out of you.
  • Blood Dawn: You wake up one morning to find your entire body covered in blood. What do you do? 
  • Room of Despair: How would you react if you were locked in a room and told you could never leave?
  • Haunting Memoirs: What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? Can you explain this in great detail?
  • Chilling Chronicles: Make a top ten list of the creepiest books or stories you have ever read.
  • The Gruesome Creation: Describe the most gruesome and disgusting creature you can imagine.
  • Zoo’s Menace: Write a horror story where there is a threat of animals getting out of the zoo.
  • Red-Eyed Pursuit: Continue the following starter: A red-eyed man of tall and dark build looms over a bus stop on a lonely, deserted country road, staring at me intently. I run like hell to get to the other side of the street, but it’s too late…
  • Homebound Horror: A strange animal has been following you through your home. Have you been doing anything strange or dangerous that has made it freak out?
  • Midnight Messages: Someone is leaving you messages in the dead of night. What’s the creepiest message you’ve received?
  • Ghostly Watcher: Create a ghost story about a creature that watches and waits in the corners of dark, abandoned places.
  • Jack and Jill’s Nightmare: Jack and Jill went up the hill, but they never came back down. Will they ever make it to the bottom? Write a horror story based on this idea.
  • Dark Secrets: The history of your town has a long dark secret that nobody wants to talk about. What is it?
  • Mutated Reality: Reality show participants get kidnapped and sent on a dangerous mission, where they must learn how to blend with mutated creatures.
  • Beastly Intrusion: In a small community in Japan, a supernatural force enters the community through a sewer. To beat it, the village must learn to work as a team and think like a beast.
  • School of Shadows: School kids don’t believe in ghosts until they’re suddenly being terrorised in their school at night.
  • Vampiric Genesis: Someone is using a contaminated strain of bat DNA to create vampires in real life. And it’s up to a group of scientists to put an end to it.
  • Promised Souls: The dead walk, and all they want to do is get what they were promised. Will you figure it out?
  • Spellbound Silence: An aspiring rapper, who always dreamed of singing in front of an adoring crowd, becomes the target of a spell that makes him unable to sing, his most cherished talent. Will he survive the consequences of his initial desire to be a star?
  • Mirror Man: Continue this story: You look into the mirror and see a man in black standing in the corner…
  • Cryptic Chronicles: Imagine that you stumble upon a really creepy story in your local library and it leads you on a very strange and frightening journey.
  • Lost in a Strange World: When night falls, people get teleported to an area far away, in a very different world! The only way to return home is by combining body parts with the different elements of the land.
  • Wicked Takeover: A small town gets taken over by a wicked witch, who’s on a mission to suck the souls of all the inhabitants.
  • Soul Seeker: When someone posts an ad online about finding a soul and bringing it home for a price, things get really interesting.
  • Human and Beast: What would happen if human DNA was spliced with that of a deadly monster?
  • Unknown Beyond: A guy receives an advance warning from his friends in the afterlife to get ready for the afterlife, or something worse may happen…
  • Death’s Present: A girl gets a letter that someone wants to give her a present before they die, but the present comes with a very specific clause. What happens when she follows the instructions?
  • Dark Diary: As a local woman is trying to recover from the death of her husband, she discovers an old diary, in which she discovers something that happened in her past that has led to events that followed.
  • Christmas Carnage: It’s beginning to look like Christmas! But there’s more to Christmas than Santa and presents. A deadly secret is hidden away in a child’s bedroom. And with a massive killer about to make an appearance, it’s a race against time to track him down.
  • Empire of Evil: A ship sets sail for the distant colony of the Empire, but its mission becomes a mission to find the source of evil.
  • Hell Town: Using a sinister new machine, a small-town mayor is convinced to turn his town into a hell-like world.
  • Wild Dogs: A group of four friends are lured into an abandoned house by a pack of wild dogs.
  • I Went To A Party: Complete the following sentence in three different spooky ways: I went to a party and…
  • Sea’s Claw: The captain was anxious to get home, but the sea was so rough that his ship could not make it. Suddenly, from the fog, a giant black claw appeared. The giant black claw grabbed the ship and then brought the ship to the bottom of the ocean.
  • Dybylu’s Awakening: A monster named Dybylu wakes up one morning, alone in her room. She can feel it in the air; her pet cat is afraid. She goes to look in the mirror and see’s a human staring back at her. 
  • Murdered Spirit: A little boy is asked to help a spirit of a man who was murdered, but as he hears the story, it sounds weird and a bit confusing, and he begins to wonder if the story is even true.
  • Playground Horrors: In a playground near an orphanage, there are many playgrounds where kids play. The best playground is found next to an abandoned asylum. 
  • Barn Cat’s Secret: A drifter named Mick goes to a farm with his friend Sam, and the owner of the farm is a creepy scientist. Mick climbs a barn ladder and sees a strange cat in there…
  • Cape Creature: A sweet girl named Annie and her sister, Charley, are having an adventure in their neighbourhood. Suddenly, Annie spots a strange black cape creature lurking in the distance. It was the most feared and horrible creature Annie has ever seen.
  • Island of Souls: The main character goes to an island that no one has visited before. He is enjoying his vacation, but one night he finds out that his home is being invaded by creatures who want to steal his soul.
  • Spookie’s Nightmares: A witch known as ‘Spookie’ causes horrible hallucinations to victims of her nightmares. Her victims can’t scream or cry or run. All they can do is panic.
  • Stick’s Mischief: A girl named Paige finds a stick that attracts a mysterious creature that will play a sick joke on her. 
  • Black Blood: One day, a girl named Robin started having problems in school. Her parents, who are very smart and caring, see something is very wrong with Robin so they take her to the doctor. The doctor makes her go through a lot of tests, and everything is okay except for one last thing. Robin has black blood running through her veins.
  • Mirror’s Curse: A teenage girl named Sarah who is obsessed with her appearance starts turning into an old, ugly witch every time she looks into a mirror. 
  • Bee Killer: When bees start dying suddenly out of nowhere, the lead detective in a bee colony must find the culprit. 
  • Demon’s Puzzle: A strange jigsaw puzzle holds a horrific secret… In it, a grinning demon holds a girl’s head in its giant mouth.
  • Forbidden Drawing: A little boy sees a drawing of him in a forbidden book he had found. He is then transported to a never-ending forest, lost forever…
  • When the Past Comes Back: An adult is being haunted by their younger self.
  • Beast of the Woods: A reporter goes into the woods where there was a fierce animal attack. In this attack, five women and a little boy were killed. He decides to search for evidence on who this killer creature might be…
  • Letters of London: A man lives by himself in a flat in London. A mysterious person starts sending him letters which talk about how scary things will happen if he doesn’t leave his flat. 
  • The Ghost in Her Friend’s Mother: A 7 year old girl is having a sleepover at her friend’s house. Her friend’s mom leaves them alone, but they soon find out that she was poisoned, and that a ghost has taken over her body.
  • Creepy Crawlies in Your Kitchen: The first animal the kids see is a snake that eats people’s brains. It sneaks around in people’s kitchens.
  • Revolving Nightmares: The story starts off with a character telling the readers about the night he and his parents got stuck in a revolving door. The night would haunt him for the rest of his life.
  • Tommy’s Window: A long time ago there was a man named Tommy, who was lost in a forest. Tommy thought he heard a ghost calling him. Tommy went in the direction of the noise and found a scary-looking house that has windows that never opened. Tommy finds out that the house belongs to a witch and that if he opens the windows, the witch will turn Tommy into a puppet. 
  • Tommy the Dog: This is a story about a little boy and his dog.  The little boy goes to a big park, and he sees a dog that is alone. He walks over to the dog, but it just barks and then runs away. The next day Tommy starts turning into a human-sized dog. 

Fear no more! Just use this list of horror writing prompts to start writing your own fantastic horror story! Use any of these scary prompt ideas to take the story from your mind to your computer screen.

Looking for more creepy horror prompts? Check out this list of Halloween writing prompts , as well as this scary Halloween picture prompts . 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 5 elements of a horror story.

Every good horror story contains the following five elements: Character, Setting, Action, Horror and Resolution. You can’t write a good horror without these elements.

How do you write in creepy writing?

To write in creepy writing, you need to immerse yourself in the world of horror. You think to think exactly like your main character or antagonist. Imagine yourself as a ghost, a demon, a monster, or a murderer. You can be a ghost who haunts people in their dreams or a monster who stalks them in the real world. Use extreme details to describe scenes of horror with gory and disgusting elements.

How do you get inspiration for horror?

Most horror stories are based on fear. Think about the things that scare you or haunt you in your nightmares. You can also get inspiration from watching scary movies or reading about scary stories. Finally, horror stories can also be inspired by real-life situations. For example, a girl who is bullied decides to take revenge on her bullies in a gruesome way. Of course, you can also use this list of horror writing prompts to inspire you too!

What are common horror themes?

Horror themes can be based on personal experiences, fears, or nightmares. Here are some common horror themes to explore:

  • Stalker: Someone who stalks you in your dreams or in the real world.
  • Monsters: Someone or something who appears to be human, but isn’t.
  • Revenge: Someone who is still haunted by a past event, and needs to seek revenge to overcome it.
  • Secrets: A deadly secret that could shake the lives of anyone involved.
  • Psychopaths: People who just kill or hurt others for the fun of it.

Did you find this list of over 110 horror writing prompts useful? Let us know in the comments below.

horror writing prompts

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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Home » Blog » 132 Best Horror Writing Prompts and Scary Story Ideas

132 Best Horror Writing Prompts and Scary Story Ideas

horror essay


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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A house finds a way to kill every visitor on its premises.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A woman puts a lipstick on in the bathroom when she hears a demonic voice saying to her: “Can’t you see?”
  •  A mysterious child psychiatrist promises parents to cure their children if they give him a vile of their blood.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  A mysterious stranger with a glass eye and a cane commissions a portrait. When the portrait is finished, the painter turns into stone.
  •  A little girl’s sister lives with a monster in the closet. She exits the closet on her sister’s birthday.
  •  The demons under the nuclear plant get released after an explosion and start terrorizing the families of people who work at the plant.
  •  A woman gets trapped in a parallel universe where every day she dies horribly in different ways.
  •  A cannibal hunts for pure children’s hearts hoping they will bring him eternal youth.
  •  A politician hides his weird sister in the attic. She’s had her supernatural powers after their family home burned to the ground.
  •  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.
  •  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.”
  • 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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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. 
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  An anthropologist studies rituals involving human sacrifice. She slowly begins to accept them as necessary.
  •  A family of four moves in an old Victorian home. As they restore it, more and more people die suddenly and violently.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  A bride returns to the same bridge for 50 years waiting for her husband-to-be to get out of the water.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.”
  •  Twin brothers were kidnapped and returned the next day. They claim that they can’t remember anything. The following night, twin sisters disappear.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  Two distinguished scientists develop a new type of virus that attacks their brains and turns them into killing machines.
  •  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.
  •  A bachelor’s party ends with two dead people in the pool. Both of them are missing their eyes.
  •  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.
  •  A strange religious group starts performing a ritual on a playground. The children’s hearts stop beating.
  •  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.
  •  A man encounters death on his way to work. He can ask three questions before he dies. He makes a quick decision.
  •  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.
  •  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.”
  •  A man is trying to open a time portal so that he could kill his parents before he is ever conceived.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  A nuclear blast turns animals into blood-thirsty monsters.
  •  A mysterious bug creeps under people’s skins and turns them into the worst version of themselves.
  •  A kidnapper makes his victims torture each other for his sheer pleasure.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  You are the Ruler of a dystopian society. You kill every time your control is threatened.
  •  You are an intelligent robot who shows no mercy to humanity.
  •  You are a promising researcher who discovers that all the notorious dictators have been cloned.
  •  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.
  •  A most prominent member of a sect goes to animal shelters to find food for the dark forces.
  •  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.
  •  You travel home to visit your parents for the holidays. Everything seems normal until you realize that demons have taken over their consciousness.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  A patient with a multiple-personality disorder tells you that you are one of six characters.
  •  You wake up in bed that is a blood-bath.
  •  The Government abducts children with genius IQ and trains them to fight the horrors in Area 51.
  •   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.
  •  A man signs a document with his blood to relinquish his body to a sect.
  •  A woman enters a sacred cave in India and disappears for good.
  •  A man opens his eyes in the middle of his autopsy while the coroner is holding his heart.
  •  You look outside the windows in your house only to see that the view has changed and there is black fog surrounding you.
  •  The gargoyles from the Notre Dame have come to life and they start terrorizing Paris.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  The last thing you remember before losing consciousness is fighting a shady Uber driver.
  •  You find yourself in a cage in the middle of a forest and black mythological harpies hovering above the cage.
  •  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.
  •  Five hikers get stranded during a horrible storm. One of them kills the weakest and starts burning his body.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  The sacred river in a remote Asian village fills up with blood. The last time that happened, all the children in the village died.
  •  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.
  •  A frightened man is trying to lead a werewolf into a trap and kill him with the last silver bullet.
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  Every passenger on the Orient Express dies in a different, and equally mysterious way.  
  •  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.
  • A mother discovers that her bright son is not human.
  • Specters keep terrorizing patients in a psychiatric hospital, but nobody believes them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jack the Ripper is actually a woman who brutally kills prostitutes because her own mother was a prostitute.
  • A ticking noise wakes her up. It’s a bomb, and she has only four minutes to do something about it.
  • After a horrible car crash, a walking skeleton emerges from the explosion.
  • A world-famous violinist virtuoso uses music to summon dark forces.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A voice starts chanting spells every time somebody wears the gold necklace from Damask.
  • Three teenagers beat up a homeless man. The next day all of them go missing.
  • Thirteen tourists from Poland visit Trakai Island Castle in Vilnius. Their bodies are found washed up the next morning. They are wearing medieval clothes.
  • 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.
  • A hitman is hired to kill a potential heart donor.
  • A man is attacked by the neighbor’s dog while trying to bury his wife alive.
  • 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.
  • After moving to a new house all the family members have the same nightmares. Slowly they realize that they might be more than nightmares.
  • A psychopath is drugging his wife, pushing her to commit a suicide so that he could collect the life insurance.
  • A woman loses her eyesight overnight. Instead, she starts having premonitions.
  • A vampire prefers albino children.
  • A man commits murders at night and relives the agony of his victims during the day.
  • 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.
  • Demons rejuvenate by eating kind people’s hearts.
  • People are horrified to find all of the graves dug out the morning after Halloween.
  • Men start jumping off building and bridges after hearing a mysterious song.
  • A voice in your head tells you to stop listening to the other voices. They were not real.
  • A severed head is hanging from a bridge with a message written in the victim’s blood.
  • A delusional man brings his screaming children to a chasm.
  • A 30-year-old woman learns that a baby with the same name as her died at the local hospital 30 years ago.
  • A vampire donates his blood so that a child with special brain powers can receive it.
  • A teenager is determined to escape his kidnapper by manipulating him into drinking poison. He doesn’t stop there.

horror essay

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Last updated on Jun 20, 2022

How to Write a Horror Story: 7 Tips for Writing Horror

In our era of highly commercialized crime and thriller novels, it may seem like zeitgeist-defining horror books are a thing of the past. Indeed, Stephen King was once the perennial bestselling author in the world, and children in the 90s devoured Goosebumps books like The Blob devoured, well, everything.

But let’s not forget there’s a huge base of horror fans today, desperate for their next fix . So if you’re hoping to become the next Crown Prince of Dread, your dream can still come true! Here are seven steps to writing truly chilling horror:

1. Start with a fear factor

2. pick a horror story subgenre, 3. let readers experience the stakes, 4. create suspense through point of view, 5. consider plot twists to surprise your audience, 6. put your characters in compelling danger, 7. use your imagination.

The most important part of any horror story is naturally going to be its fear factor . People don’t read horror for easy entertainment; they read it to be titillated and terrorized. That said, here are a few elements you can use to seriously scare the pants off your reader.

Instinctive fears

Fears that have some sort of logical or biological foundation are often the most potent in horror. Darkness, heights, snakes, and spiders — all these are extremely common phobias rooted in instinct. As a result, they tend to be very effective at frightening readers.

This is especially true when terror befalls innocent characters apropos of nothing: a killer traps them in their house for no apparent reason, or they’re suddenly mugged by a stranger with a revolver. As horror writer Karen Woodward says, “The beating undead heart of horror is the knowledge that bad things happen to good people.”

Monsters and supernatural entities

These stretch beyond the realm of logic and into the realm of the “uncanny,” as Freud called it. We all know that vampires , werewolves, and ghosts aren’t real, but that doesn’t mean they can’t shake us to our core. In fact, it’s the very uncertainty they arouse that makes them so sinister: what if monsters are really out there, we’ve just never seen them? This fear is one of the most prevalent in horror, but if you decide to write in this vein, your story has to be pretty convincing.

Societal tensions

Another great means of scaring people is to tap into societal tensions and concerns — a tactic especially prevalent in horror movies. Just in recent memory, Get Out tackles the idea of underlying racism in modern America, The Babadook examines mental health, and It Follows is about the stigma of casual sex. However, societal tensions can also easily be embodied in the pages of a horror story, as in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery .

how to write a horror story

The right atmosphere for your story depends on what kind of horror you want to write. To use cinematic examples again, are you going for more Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Silence of the Lambs? The tone and atmosphere of your story will hang upon its subgenre.

  • Thriller-horror employs psychological fear, often occurring near the beginning of horror stories before very much has happened
  • Gross-out horror involves vivid descriptions of spurting blood, hacked-up flesh, and gouged-out organs in order to shock the reader; think gore movies of the 70s
  • Classic horror harks back to the Gothic (or Southern Gothic ) genre, with spooky settings and bone-chilling characters like those of Dracula and Frankenstein
  • Terror provokes a feeling of all-pervasive dread, which can either serve as the climax of your story or be sustained throughout

It’s also possible to combine subgenres, especially as your story progress. You might begin with a sense of thrilling psychological horror, then move into gothic undertones, which culminates in utter terror.

But no matter what type of horror you’re working with, it should be deeply potent for your reader — and yourself! “If you manage to creep yourself out with your own writing, it's usually a pretty good sign that you're onto something,” editor Harrison Demchick says.

PRO-TIP : Ever wanted to find out which book genre  you  are? Take our 1-minute quiz below to see! 

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In order for readers to truly thrill at your horror story, you need to make them aware of the stakes. Clearly establish the main problem or motivation for your character(s) , and what they have to lose if they don’t figure it out. These stakes and motivations might involve: 

Survival. The most basic objective of characters in any horror story is to survive. However, there are nuances that accompany that goal. Perhaps their objective isn't just to stay alive, but to defeat their murderous nemesis while doing it — whether that’s another person, an evil spirit, or even themselves, if it’s a Jekyll and Hyde-type scenario.

Protecting loved ones. The more people the protagonist has to keep safe, the higher the stakes. Many horrific tales peak with a threat of death not to the main character, but to one or several of their loved ones (as in Phantom of the Opera or Red Dragon ).

Cracking unsolved mysteries. Because some horror stories aren’t about escaping peril in the present, but rather about uncovering the terrors of the past. This especially true in subgenres like cosmic horror , which have to do with the great mysteries of the universe, often involving ancient history.

how to write a horror story

Again, as with atmosphere, you can always merge different kinds of stakes. For instance, you might have a character trying to solve some mysterious murders that happened years ago, only to find out that they’re the next target!

The main thing to remember when it comes to horror — especially horror stories — is that straightforward stakes tend to have the greatest impact. Says author Chuck Wendig, of his perfect recipe for horror: “Plain stakes, stabbed hard through the breastbone.”

Bonus tip! Need help conjuring stakes and suspense? Try reading some masterfully crafted true crime — which can be even scarier than bone fide horror, since it actually happened.

Your reader should feel a kinship with your main character, such that when the stakes are high, they feel their own heart start to beat faster. This can be achieved through either first person or third person limited point of view. (When writing horror, you’ll want to avoid third person omniscient, which can distance your reader and lessen their investment in the story.)

We'll get into only the major POV's to consider in this post, but if you want a full point of view masterclass, check out our free course below.



Understanding Point of View

Learn to master different POVs and choose the best for your story.

First person POV

Speaking of beating hearts, for a great example of first person narration in horror, look no further than The Tell-Tale Heart . Many of Poe’s stories involve deranged first-person narrators ( The Black Cat , The Cask of Amontillado ) but none are more notorious than this one, in which the main character is driven to murder his elderly housemate. Notice Poe’s chilling use of first person POV from the very first lines of the story:

It’s true! Yes, I have been ill, very ill. But why do you say that I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad? Can you not see that I have full control of my mind? Indeed, the illness only made my mind, my feelings, my senses stronger… I could hear sounds I had never heard before. I heard sounds from heaven; and I heard sounds from hell!

First person POV is excellent for hooking your reader at the beginning, and keeping them in suspense throughout your story. However, it might be too intense for longer, more intricate pieces, and may be difficult to execute if you’re trying to conceal something from your readers.

It’s also worth thinking about the implications of first person, past tense POV in a horror story — it suggests they’ve lived to tell the tale, which might ruin your dramatic ending. Therefore if you do decide to use first person narration, you should probably keep it in present tense.

Third person POV

If you find yourself struggling to make first person POV work, consider a third person limited perspective instead. This kind of narration is often used in longer-form horror, popularized by the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz . Look how it’s used here in King’s 1974 novel Carrie , in the description of its eponymous character:

Carrie stood among [the other girls] stolidly, a frog among swans. She was a chunky girl with pimples on her neck and back and buttocks, her wet hair completely without color… She looked the part of the sacrificial goat, the constant butt, believer in left-handed monkey wrenches, perpetual foul-up, and she was.

how to write a horror story

This narration paints an intimate picture of the character, while still allowing the freedom for commentary in a way that first person narration doesn’t as much. Third person limited narration also works well for building to a certain atmosphere, rather than jumping right into it, as Poe’s narrator does — which is part of why third person is better for lengthier pieces. (See more of King's masterful use of POV to wrack up tension in our Guide to King! )

Unreliable narrators

Alternately, if you’re committed to having a first person narrator but you don’t want to reveal everything to your readers, an unreliable narrator could be your perfect solution! Many mystery and thriller novels employ unreliable narration in order to work up to a big twist without giving away too much. So whether or not you’ll want an unreliable narrator probably depends on how you end your story: straight down the line or with a twist.

Plot twists are exciting, memorable, and help bring previous uncertainty into focus, releasing tension by revealing the truth. However, they’re also notoriously difficult to come up with , and extremely tricky to pull off — you have to carefully hint at a twist, while making sure it’s not too predictable or clichéd.

So: to twist or not to twist? That is the question. 

Big plot twists in horror writing tend to follow the beaten path: the victim turns out to be the killer, the person who we thought was dead isn’t really, or — worst of all — it was all in their head the whole time! But keep in mind that small, subtle plot twists can be just as (if not more) effective.

Take William Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily . After Emily dies, the villagers discover the corpse of a long-vanished traveler in one of her spare beds — along with a strand of silver hair. While the discovery of the body might be gruesome, it’s the presence of Emily’s hair (suggesting she enjoyed cuddling with a cadaver) that really haunts you.

Not to twist

The ending of your story doesn't have to come out of left field to shock and horrify readers. The classic horror approach leaves the reader in suspense as to precisely what will happen, then concludes with a violent showdown (think slasher films).

In this approach, while the showdown itself might not be a surprise, the scenes leading up to it build tension and anticipation for the climax. That way, when the big moment does arrive, it still packs a dramatic punch.

“A horror novel, like any story, is about a character or characters trying to achieve a goal based upon their individual wants and needs,” says Demchick. “If you let concept overwhelm character, you'll lose much of what makes horror as engaging as it can be.”

To scare your characters, you need to have a solid understanding of their psyche. Filling out a character profile template is a great start to fleshing out believable characters, so give ours a try.



Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

As you write, you need to stay conscious of basic storytelling techniques and not get carried away with the drama of horror. It might help, before you begin, to answer these questions about your characters and plot:

  • What fear or struggle must your protagonist overcome?
  • What decision do they make to put them in this situation?
  • How will they defeat or escape their adversary, if at all?
  • What are the ultimate consequences of their actions?

This will help you create a basic outline for your horror story, which you can embellish to create atmosphere and suspense. In plot-driven genre stories, a thorough outline and emotionally resonant elements are vital for keeping your reader invested.

A great horror story balances drama with realism and suspense with relief, even with the occasional stroke of humor. Gillian Flynn is the master of this technique — as seen in this excerpt from her horror story The Grownup , wherein the narrator is scheming how to capitalize on her “spiritual cleansing” services:

I could go into business for myself, and when people asked me, “What do you do?” I’d say, I’m an entrepreneur in that haughty way entrepreneurs had. Maybe Susan and I would become friends. Maybe she’d invite me to a book club. I’d sit by a fire and nibble on Brie and say, I’m a small business owner, an entrepreneur, if you will.

In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to think about overused trends in horror and make sure your story’s not “been there, done that.” For instance, the “vampire romance” plot is a dead horse with no one left to beat it after all the Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and True Blood hype.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use certain elements of popular trends in your writing. You just have to put a spin on it and make it your own!

For example, zombie horror was already a well-worn genre when Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out in 2009. But by setting it in the regency era and featuring Jane Austen’s well-loved characters, he created a brilliant original work and carved out a brand new audience for zombie fiction. You can also pay homage to well-known horror tropes, like the Duffer brothers of Stranger Things   did for Stephen King and Steven Spielberg — and which savvy audiences are sure to appreciate.

how to write a horror story

It certainly feels sometimes like all the good horror stories have already been written, making your own ideas seem  trite. But don’t forget that new horror comes out all the time, and it only takes one great idea to be a hit! So try not to stress out about it, and remember: just by having read through this guide, you’re already that much closer to becoming a literary graveyard smash .

11 responses

Sawan says:

04/11/2018 – 19:34

Thank you so much for writing this article. I am currently writing a short horror story. Sometimes when I write a horror scene, I get really terrified, but after some days it all feels shitty.

↪️ dilinger john replied:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

it happens with everyone don't stress over it and pass your work to someone who will review it. you are a writer and can not be a critic at the same time.

↪️ Shane C replied:

28/09/2019 – 21:15

Sawan -- been writing for 22 years... NEVER judge your own work. You write it -- finish it off -- then have some friends that enjoy horror and reading read your work and give you honest critique. Record their critique or take accurate notes. Repeat this with several friends (but only those you can trust not to try to steal your work, Creative Commons and/or Registered Mail can be your best friend BEFORE this stage). Pick the best one you like, that makes the most sense -- but if several people say "blah blah blah should have happened," or a really close variation throughout reader opinions... Go with it! I know most people hate that, feels like butchering your art (I know I hate it), but use it anyway. It'll likely be more widely received... Just a few pointers.

Annabelle says:

21/05/2019 – 01:51

This is awesome I love this! I’m writing my own horror novel too.🙂

↪️ Andrew replied:

31/10/2019 – 20:23

what is it?

NAVEEN says:

29/07/2019 – 15:22

i am at the age of sixteen and i decided to write a horror story. thanks a lot!!

Bobette Bryan says:

27/08/2019 – 19:09

Ghosts are real. I've seen many in my lifetime and have had some very terrifying experiences with some.

↪️ smr replied:

03/01/2020 – 13:25

what the hell ??

↪️ John Brown replied:

16/01/2020 – 02:28

Me too! And I think it actually helps with writing horror stories, because you have more experience than most.

John Brown says:

16/01/2020 – 02:27

I’m 14 and I love writing horror novels, but I usually freak my self out too much to keep writing... 😕

Comments are currently closed.

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How to Write Horror Featured

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S o, you want to learn how to write a good horror story? Whether you want to know how to write a horror movie or how to write a horror book, the four steps outlined in this guide will get you started on the appropriate course of action and help you to align your creative goals. Writing horror isn’t all that different from writing for other genres, but it does require the right mindset and a creepy destination to work towards. Before we jump into the first of our four steps, let’s begin with a primer.

How to write horror

Before you get started.

The steps outlined in this ‘how to write horror’ guide assume that you already have a grasp over the fundamentals of writing. If you do not yet understand the basic mechanics of prose, screenwriting , or storytelling, then you might not get everything you need out of this guide. Luckily, we have a litany of informative resources that can bring you up to speed on everything you need to know.

If you intend to tell the  horror story  you have in mind as a screenplay, then the best way to fast track your screenwriting education might be to read through some of the  best screenwriting books  or to enroll in one of the  best online screenwriting courses .

Our guide to writing great scenes  is another good place to start, and our  glossary of screenwriting vocabulary  is a great resource if you encounter any unfamiliar terminology. When you’re ready to start writing, you can get going for free in  StudioBinder’s screenwriting software .

Now, we’re ready to jump into step one of our how to write horror guide. But, be warned, if you don’t already have a basic story concept in mind, you should consider that Step Zero.

There’s no concrete way to generate story ideas, but you can always look to creative writing prompts  and  indie films to kickstart inspiration .


Step 1: research and study.

Writing horror often begins by consuming great horror . We look to the stories of the past when crafting the stories of the present. Someone who has never read a horror novel or seen a horror film is going to have a much harder time writing horror than someone who is a voracious consumer of horror stories. By watching and reading, you can pick up plenty of tips for writing scary stories.

Before writing your opening line, be sure to do your research. It can be worthwhile to explore all manner of horror media. But for the purposes of this step, it’s best to focus in on the type of material you wish to create.

If you want to learn how to write a horror novel, then read as many horror novels as you can get your hands on. Our list of the  greatest horror films  ever made is a good place to conduct your research if you plan to write a horror screenplay. You can also check out our rundown of  underrated horror films for even more research.

Here are tips on how to write horror from the master himself, Stephen King. And, while you're at it, might as well catch up on the best Stephen King movies and TV based on his work!

How to write good horror  •  Stephen King offers horror writing tips

It’s important to go beyond simply reading and watching horror and to begin to analyze the material. Drill down into why certain decisions were made by the writer and try to figure out why certain elements work or don’t work. It can often be worthwhile to explore material you consider bad as well as what you consider good, so you can learn what not to do.

Check out our analysis of Midsommar   below for an example of how you can break down and explore the horror films that inspire you. You can also download the Midsommar script as a PDF to analyze the writing directly. You should check out our Best Horror Scripts post for more iconic script PDFs.

Midsommar Script Teardown - Full Script Download App Tie-In - StudioBinder

How to Write Horror  •   Read Full Midsommar Script

When consuming material to learn how to write a horror story, pay particular attention to the pacing and structure of the stories you’re inspired by. For example, if the style you find yourself most drawn to is slow-burn horror, then you might want to aim for a much slower pace than average with your story as well, but the build-up will become even more important.

Horror story writing

Step 2: decide your type of horror.

So, you’ve decided you’re writing horror, congratulations, you’ve settled on a genre. Now, it’s time to pick your sub-genre (s) and to decide on the specific avenue of horror to explore. There are many horror sub-genres to choose from. Just take a look at our ultimate guide to movie genres for quick rundown. And, check out the video below to see horror sub-genres ranked.

Ranking subgenres for inspiration  •  Horror story writing

Keep in mind that genres and subgenres can be mixed and matched in a multitude of combinations. For example, The Witch blends together the horror and historical fiction genres. From Dusk Till Dawn fuses action, crime-thriller, and vampire elements. And Shaun of the Dead fuses the horror and comedy genres by way of the zombie subgenre.

Our video essay below offers insights into Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright’s creative process. Check out our ranking of Edgar Wright’s entire filmography if you want even more.

How Edgar Wright writes and directs his movies  •   Subscribe on YouTube

Step Two is also the time to decide on the specific avenue you will exploit when writing horror. By “avenue of horror,” we mean the primary source(s) of tension and scares. Witches? Zombies? Cosmic horror? Body Horror ? Social Horror? These are all different avenues that your horror story can take on, and just like with genres and sub-genres, mixing and matching is encouraged.

A horror story that exploits kills and gore as its avenue of horror will be written in a much different manner than one that focuses on a sense of creeping dread and leaves more to the viewer or reader’s imagination.

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Step 3: Mine your fears and phobias 

You have decided on your genre and your avenue of horror, now it’s time to get more specific and drill deeper. For Step Three, go beyond asking what makes a story scary and instead figure out what makes your story frightening.

Depending on what you chose in Step Two, this might already be baked into your sub-genre and avenue of horror. For example, the home invasion sub-genre by nature mines a very real phobia that many people share.

The best home invasion films

However, if you chose to go with the zombie subgenre for example, you may need to work a little harder to discover what it is about your story that will scare audiences. Zombies on their own certainly hold the potential to be frightening, but audience overexposure to them throughout the years has gone a long way to lessen the scary impact they once had.

For examples of how to do it right, check out our rundown of the best zombie films ever made . And, for a different yet equally effective take on the sub-genre, check out our list of the  best zombie comedies .

How to write a horror story  •  Exploit common phobias

The above video breaks down the statistics surrounding a number of phobias. One common piece of writerly wisdom is “write what you know.” When writing in the horror genre, we can tweak that advice to, “write what scares you.” Mine your own fears and phobias when crafting your horror story; there are sure to be others out there who get creeped out by the same things.

This is also the step where you should try to discover your X-factor. What is it that sets your story apart from similar horror stories? If the answer is “nothing really,” then it might be time to take your concept back to the drawing board.

How to write a horror story

Step 4: keep your audience in mind.

From this point on, you are ready to start writing your horror story. Much of the writing process will be carried out in the same way as you would write a story in any other genre. But there are a few extra considerations. Put all that research you did in step one to work and ensure that your prose or screenwriting is well balanced and doles out the scares at a good pace.

You will want to find a good middle ground between sacrificing story and character development and going too long without something to keep your audience creeped out.

Narrative pacing is important in every genre, but horror writers also need to worry about pacing their scares, similar to how someone writing an action film needs to deliberately pace out their big action sequences.

How to write a horror story  •  Keep pacing in mind

Decide on who your target audience is from the jump and keep them in mind while you write. There can be a significant difference between horror aimed at teens vs. horror aimed at a mature audience. In film, this can mean the difference between shooting for a PG-13 rating instead of an R rating.

In fiction, this decision might manifest as a plan to market directly toward the young-adult crowd. Horror aimed at children, like Frankenweenie or The Nightmare Before Christmas , is drastically different from other types of horror aimed at older audiences.

Use your target audience as a guiding star that informs all of your narrative decisions as you write. Now, it’s time to put everything you just learned about how to write good horror stories to use.

The Greatest Horror Movies Ever Made 

If you are stuck on step one and looking to find some inspiration, our list of the greatest horror films ever made is a great place to look. You are sure to find something to get your creative juices flowing within this lengthy list. Writing great horror starts with consuming great horror, coming up next.

Up Next: Best Horror Movies of All Time →

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Friday essay: scary tales for scary times

horror essay

Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies and Creative Writing, Monash University

Disclosure statement

Ali Alizadeh does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Monash University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU.

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Progress, the German philosopher Walter Benjamin once wrote, is a storm. The winds that propel us forward also uproot and tear apart what we leave behind. The modern world is a world of progress and it leaves in its wake the ruins of the old world.

Progress, then, is indistinguishable from destruction – creative, positive and necessary destruction, perhaps, but destruction nevertheless.

Culture in the modern world has its own tales of progress. Mass production of the novel in the 19th century; the arrival and domination of cinema in the 20th; the omnipresence of the digital in this century – these all have propelled us forward. Newer and more progressive whims and approaches result in the ascendance of newer and more progressive authors and genres. And they also reproduce battered remains of literary forms and genres of the yesteryear. Or so it may seem.

This essay concerns a literary genre that should, by all accounts, be dead and buried. A coarse, primitive genre that, from the perspective of our unstoppably advancing tastes and proclivities, should have no place in the current pantheon of literary refinement and accomplishment.

But this genre continues to haunt the contemporary. Its ghoulish spectre manifests an incorrigible undead spirit; its menace threatens the narrative of unimpeded cultural progress. The genre I speak of is the genre of the dead and the undead, of monsters and malevolence, of spectres and sinister spirits. It is the genre of horror fiction.

Horror boom and bust

The so-called “horror boom” is behind us. This term refers to a period in US popular entertainment during which horror fiction nearly dominated the publishing and associated cultural landscapes.

Horror had been present, in one form or another, in the literary imaginary of the Western world from the onset of modernity – at least since Matthew Lewis’s satanic monk died a slow, agonising death and Mary Shelley’s deranged genius fashioned a body out of corpses.

Read more: Frankenstein at 200 and why Mary Shelley was far more than the sum of her monster's parts

In the United States, horror fiction had prodigious subcultural roots, dating back to the singular figures of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft . But it was not until the late 1960s that the genre reached hitherto unforeseen levels of mainstream cultural prestige and commercial profitability.

horror essay

The horror boom – which has also been described, perhaps more aptly, as the “horror craze” – owed a great deal to the writers who came immediately before it. These included Lovecraft’s protege Robert Bloch , whose 1959 novel Psycho added the modern serial killer to the rogues’ gallery of gothic monsters, and the scandalous short stories of the deviously talented Shirley Jackson , whose novel The Haunting of Hill House , also published in 1959, placed a team of thoroughly modern American youths in a properly spooky old mansion.

It was not until the publication of three monstrously successful bestsellers – Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967), Thomas Tryon’s The Other (1971), and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist (1971) – that horror fiction transcended its hitherto underground, youth-oriented readership and, for a period, captured the imagination and aesthetics of wider American society.

horror essay

Accounting for the horror boom could provide an account of its eventual demise. The dizzying commercial success of the boom’s most recognisable protagonist, Stephen King , led to equally high levels of overproduction.

At the height of his cultural power, King would publish no fewer than three novels per year – a feat he achieved in 1983, 1984 and 1987. Even the most optimistic view of the demand for horror fiction could not miss the obvious perils of excessive supply.

King was not the only hyper-commercial, hyper-productive horror writer of the period. The late Anne Rice released three novels in 1985 alone, while Dean Koontz published 17 novels during the 1980s.

This oversaturation was not helped by the film industry’s opportunism. The extraordinary profitability of low-budget slasher films spawned franchises of increasingly formulaic sequels. This contributed significantly to the growing perception of the genre as a series of predictable clichés, devoid of the capacity to truly deliver the aesthetic affects – suspense, thrills and terrors – emblematic of the genre.

horror essay

Read more: Stephen King: a master of horror who finds terror in the everyday

Ideals and ideology

The decline in the aesthetic and commercial values of the genre only partially explains the somewhat abrupt bursting of the horror bubble in the 1990s. More important to both the rise and fall of the genre’s popularity – and, indeed, premising this popularity – were the fluctuations and mutations in the dominant ideology and ideals in the US during this period.

As King noted in his non-fiction book Danse Macabre (1981), fear of the ultimate triumph of Soviet communism, portended by the shockingly successful launch and voyage of Sputnik One, transformed the young would-be author from a sci-fi aficionado into one of the future purveyors of horror.

Fear of communism merged with the economic crises of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which marked the end of the decades of relative postwar prosperity. These crises were accompanied by acute anxieties about social disintegration, the spreading of cults, drug use and sexual permissiveness.

As the securities of the New Deal gave way to the dreads and inequalities of neoliberalism, a frightened American population – and its youth, in particular – found solace in the cathartic reflection of their fears in the broken mirrors of horror fiction.

They turned to the horrifically shattered dreams of the owners of a monstrous upmarket property in Anne Rivers Siddons’ The House Next Door (1978) and to the vengeful ghost of a woman killed in 1929, soon after the Wall Street Crash, whose murderous return in Peter Straub’s Ghost Story (1979) augers, however indirectly, the fear of another catastrophe comparable to the Great Depression.

By the 1990s, such fears had subsided. Western capitalism seemed to have survived the dangers of the previous decades and, indeed, emerged from them in an upbeat spirit. Communism had been (apparently) defeated; the middle and working classes had become enchanted with the euphoric promises of global financial capitalism.

Patrick Bateman, the protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (1991), may appear to be related to Robert Bloch’s seminal serial killer Norman Bates. He expresses an explicit, albeit ham-fisted critique of neoliberalism. But his atrocities are so hyperbolic, so absurd that, despite the moral panic accompanying the novel’s release, none of the horrors in Ellis’s novel can be taken sufficiently seriously to induce fear or suspense and thus constitute horror.

horror essay

Poppy Z. Brite (now Billy Martin) also committed herself to an ever-expansive, desperately eroticised catalogue of bodily grotesquerie and visceral depredation, only to struggle to find a publisher for her final horror novel, Exquisite Corpse (1996). The most promising writer of the late horror boom, Clive Barker , would disappoint his dwindling fans and dedicate himself to fantasy and young adult fiction by the end of the 1990s.

The decade’s most successful horror product was the movie adaptation of Thomas Harris’s novel The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Despite the blatantly evil presence of Hannibal the Cannibal, it was the foretaste of the kind of dark and bloody crime fiction that would soon displace horror in many bookshops and on most movie and television screens.

Read more: Nosferatu at 100: how the seminal vampire film shaped the horror genre

A twist of noir

That so-called Nordic or Scandi noir incorporates many of the macabre motifs of the horror genre seems obvious. Indeed, the Swedish novel that launched the global popularity of Scandinavian genre writing in the first decade of the new century was ostensibly a work of horror fiction: John Ajvide Linqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in (2004), translated as Let the Right One In .

horror essay

But Linqvist’s novel also signifies a major shift in speculative fiction readership in this period, from the concerns of adult readers towards an unabashed moralism centred on the experiences and expectations of adolescent and young adult protagonists.

This shift is not surprising, given the major trend in commercial genre publishing in both global and Anglophone cultures was now determined by the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises. These works created fictional universes that made use of many aspects associated with horror fiction (the supernatural, the gothic) without aiming to unnerve, let alone horrify, their young readers.

This aesthetic shift coincided with the popularisation of the Internet. The threats posed by the digital medium to print publishing compelled many publishers to downsize and terminate the publication of authors and genres that were not immediately, easily and hugely saleable. With very few exceptions (such as King himself), many of the most popular horror writers of the boom period were either unceremoniously dropped or moved to digital-only lists.

E-books, despite optimistic industry forecasts, proved unprofitable. Authors who had swallowed their pride and acquiesced to seeing their works removed from physical bookshops and confined to computer and tablet screens found it hard to compete with the abundance of free online content.

By the first decade of the new millennium, therefore, horror was well and truly dethroned. Horror writers, when not dropped by publishers and left struggling to stay afloat amid the flux of digital whirlpools or trying their hand at writing crime or young adult fiction, had to relabel and revise their works as “chillers” and “supernatural thrillers”.

Horror came to be seen as culturally unpalatable and ideologically unacceptable. Always controversial and transgressive, the entire genre, when viewed through the prism of the progressive neoliberalism of the age of globalisation, was deemed guilty of cruelty, misanthropy, misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia. The rediscovery of Lovecraft’s racism instigated online petitions , and some commentators even asked whether horror novels are “bad for the brain”.

Read more: Six of the scariest horror comics

The eclipse of horror

A visit to almost any bookshop in Melbourne, where I live, would seem to confirm the view that horror fiction is a thing of the past. Most have no horror section to speak of, and the very few horror titles kept in stock (almost all by King) are scattered among crime, fantasy and sci-fi. And when one does stumble on a horror novel, it is often hard to recognise the work’s genre.

The current edition of King’s It (1986) does not feature the word “horror” anywhere on the book’s cover, which classifies it as “epic thriller”. The Silence of the Lambs is available as a “psychological thriller”. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954) remains in print as part of a sci-fi series.

Several years ago, deciding to revive my youthful interest in the literary genre that had so affected my imagination during my formative years as a writer, I walked into the nearest bookshop (which, at that point in my life, happened to be in Dubai) and asked for new horror fiction. The bookseller handed me a vampire novel, which she had personally read and enjoyed, and which had received positive reviews in mainstream press.

The novel left me unimpressed. Not only was it overwritten, overlong and, truth be told, overpriced, it was also positively not horror, but a rather moralistic dystopian novel about reckless science, featuring one motif (a bloodsucker, in one scene) associated with the horror genre.

More recently, I was again compelled to ask a bookseller for a new horror recommendation. This time, I was back in Melbourne, and I was in luck. The bookseller recommended Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts (2015).

horror essay

Here was a novel by a contemporary author that not only paid tribute to horror classics of the past – which it did in a rather self-conscious manner, via the figures of demonically possessed teenagers who explicitly evoked The Exorcist – but insisted on the currency of the genre. The bedevilled family of this novel were beset by supernatural evil, as well as the terrors inflicted by the Global Financial Crisis, such as unemployment, immiseration, and their resulting social and familial cracks and catastrophes.

Best of all, A Head Full of Ghosts was genuinely engrossing and wonderfully unnerving. It did not sermonise about the ills of the world. It did not exploit gothic tropes solely to create atmosphere. And it was not written for children. It was, in short, a proper horror novel.

horror essay

Tremblay is one of the main figures in what may be described as a contemporary resurgence of horror fiction. His recent acquisition by publisher William Morrow could be seen as an indication the genre is making a comeback, although it is worth noting that his forthcoming novel has been labelled a “psychological thriller”.

That Tremblay has been deemed worthy of investment by global publishing powers is exceptional in the contemporary context. Most of his peers publish with small independent presses or self-publish. It remains to be seen whether Tremblay and those few horror authors picked up by publishing giants will resist the pressure and/or temptation to move on to more commercially and ideologically desirable genres such as young adult, dystopian fiction or, indeed, the psychological thriller.

A stronger sign of horror’s survival and revival may be found in the fact the genre’s industrial demise has not resulted in artistic decline. The horror novels written and released since the 1990s have been among the genre’s best.

Mark Z. Danielewski’s immense House of Leaves (2000) may be irritating, pretentious and, for some, simply unreadable. But it is also, quite possibly, the most ambitious, most astonishing American novel of the current century.

Sara Gran’s Come Closer (2003) is as creepy a tale of supernatural possession as one could wish for. It has also received belated praise from no less a mainstream outlet than the Guardian for its striking capacity to “probe female passions and frustrations”.

Dathan Auerbach’s Penpal (2012), which began life as a series of stories on the news aggregation and discussion website Reddit, is a horrifying page-turner as well as a most ingenuously structured narrative.

Catriona Ward’s The Last House on the Needless Street (2021) is, as the Stephen King blurb on its cover would have it, a “true nerve-shredder”. It features the most effective, most devastating peripetia or plot reversal I have read in a work by a living author.

Online resurgence

I found out about the last two titles via the Facebook group Books of Horror . With more than 21,000 members, it provides a space for fans of the genre to recommend, read and discuss their favourite books. It also provides a crucial channel for the genre’s current practitioners to make their works known to a readership excluded from mainstream literary scenes.

horror essay

As someone who has hitherto worked within the confines of official literary publishing – with its preoccupations with literary reputations, awards, sales, reviews, moral pretences and the like – I have been entranced by the Books of Horror members’ passion for new, unknown, independent writers.

The members have an unapologetic love for the simple and sophisticated pleasures of reading. They are utterly uninterested in ideological postures and “culture wars” that characterise so much of today’s highbrow literary trends. Their staggering erudition and knowledge of genre writing outshines many a university professor’s claim to popular culture expertise.

Books of Horror is one among many online phenomena that have transformed the digital milieu from one of the causes of the genre’s decline in the 1990s to one of the sources of its revival today.

A more fundamental reason for horror’s resurrection, however, is to be found in the state of our world. The 2008 global financial crisis ruptured the narrative of global capitalism’s invincibility. It ushered in the contemporary period of economic, political and social instability. The crises of global warming and the coronavirus pandemic have only intensified our fears about the trajectory of human civilisation.

In addition to the contemporary works I have already noted, most other horror works of the current period testify to the fears and dangers of life in a shaken, precarious and frightened world.

HEX (2013) by Dutch novelist Thomas Olde Heuvelt is set in a fictional village under total digital surveillance where a contemporary high-tech Big Brother tries and fails to protect the business interests of the local petty bourgeoisie from a brutal, supernatural curse.

horror essay

In Canadian writer Gemma Files’ Experimental Film (2015), a struggling film scholar and her rivals, faced with economic austerity and professional insecurity, resort to excavating a work from the silent era to safeguard their livelihoods, only to discover that the obscured film evokes ancient cosmological evils.

In Franco-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani’s Chanson douce (2016), variously translated into English as The Perfect Nanny and Lullaby , a disenfranchised working-class woman from a poor outer suburb of Paris is employed as a nanny by a professional middle-class family in the affluent heart of the French capital, with horrific consequences.

These works are only a very small indication of the international reach of horror writing today. The boom of the 1960s-1990s period was primarily a US cultural phenomenon. The concurrent popularity of the genre in other regions (including the United Kingdom and Japan) was premised on the fortunes of the genre in its US core.

horror essay

Today’s revival seems less US-centric. Even Australia, a country whose literature has long been subsumed within US literary production and consumption, is showing signs of a native horror fiction scene, evident in the work of committed horror authors such as Kaaron Warren , Alan Baxter , Kirsten McDermott and Greg Chapman , among many others. There has also been a horror-turn in the work of more literary authors, such as the late Andrew McGahan, whose final novel The Rich Man’s House (2019) features a domineering American mountaineer who gets his comeuppance courtesy of supernatural terrors unleashed by a mountain.

I don’t know whether all this will amount to a second horror boom any time soon. It is very hard to imagine that, in the age of cancel culture, trigger warnings and sensitivity readers, a genre that is categorically dedicated to shocking its readers could again rise to mainstream ideological prominence. It is equally difficult to imagine that the ultra-commercial publishers that backed the likes of King during the early years of his career would offer such support to a burgeoning writer of the genre at a time when bestseller lists are dominated by young adult, crime, self-help and celebrity memoirs.

Horror authors will continue to find it hard to overcome current commercial and cultural obstacles. But great horror novels continue to be written and they are being read and appreciated by informed, passionate readers of the genre. Horror is far from dead.

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  • Books To Help Students To Write Horror Essays

by Merissa Moore · Published May 25, 2022 · Updated May 25, 2022

Introduction to Horror Essays

There is a fine line between writing horror and writing comedy, says the author of the famous “Goosebumps” series of books, R.L Stine. Horror is a genre of writing with the main focus on instilling a sense of fear in the mind of the reader. A good horror story or horror essay is a fine balance between suspense, thrill, anticipation, and mystery mixed with supernatural elements such as ghosts, ghouls, clowns, vampires, demons, etc. For a creative writer, writing horror can be an extremely enjoyable activity, but students who get assigned to write such an essay are often confused about what to do. Today we will discuss which books a student can read to write horror essays with ease.

horror essay

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Tips To Make A Horror Essay More Engaging

Many students majoring in creative writing may be forced to take up supplementary subjects and turn in assignments and papers for the course. Such stress from assignments can inhibit students’ creative thinking. However, there is a solution. GrabMyEssay is a research paper writing service that can alleviate students’ worries by writing their assignments for them. Students can then focus on writing engaging horror essays and don’t think about the tedious assignments that stifle their creativity. 

Some things that students can do in order to make their horror essays more interesting for the reader are listed below: 

  • Students must focus on things that they personally find scary. This can be anything from a fear of heights to maybe a fear of living alone. They must focus on describing their fear using the senses of sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. The more personal their fear is, the more unique their story will be. 
  • Use cliffhangers to create suspense, and give the characters in a horror story high stakes and something to fight for. This will create a fear of failure and eagerness to succeed. 
  • Instilling fear in the reader through characterization and plot setting must be done carefully. Often the scariest characters are the ones who are perceived to be normal, with a few minor traits to set them apart. The same also applies to the setting. For example, a playground right next to a graveyard, or a bookkeeper who can hear things at night evoke a sense of fear and uneasiness in the reader. Using real-life scenarios will also help the readers connect to the characters more. Keeping this in mind while developing the plot can help make the horror essay more engaging.    

Must-Read Books For Horror Essay Writers

There is no single correct way that all students must follow to write good horror essays. However, the list of books that horror writers must study mentioned below will definitely help students understand the genre better. 

  • “Supernatural Horror in Literature” by H.P Lovecraft. Lovecraft is a known master of horror, so his works will teach a reader how to build n atmosphere of dread and suspense.
  • Classic Horror Literature from authors like William Hope Hodgson, Shirley Jackson, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, and Daphne du Maurier. Such books are classics for a reason – they withstood the test of time and still entice readers to this day, so a beginner horror writer has a lot to learn from them.
  • Modern classics from authors like Stephen King and Anne Rice. Stephen King is also known as the master of modern horror fiction. A lot of his horror works are extremely famous and served as a framework for countless movies.
  • Books and anatomy and forensics are a must-read for all students who wish to write about crime and horror if they wish to fill their books with realistic descriptions of crime scenes that will spook the reader.
  • “Writing 21st Century Fiction” by Donald Maass is another must-read book for students. It is a practical guide rich with many writing exercises and activities to help students improve their fiction writing skills . Students can refer to this often with writing any essays, especially horror essays. 

Concluding Words About Horror Essays

Writing spooky stories and horror essays is a great way to encourage students to overcome writer’s block easily. Spooky stories are a fun and light-hearted way for students to step out of their comfort zones and learn to manage their words. Horror essays can go in different ways, and they are a good tool for students to explore their creativity.

  • About the Author
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horror essay

Merissa Moore is a professional writer and director. She has extensive experience writing blog posts, short stories, and weekly columns for print media. Her expertise is writing in the horror genre, where she has written short stories, and scripts for plays, movies, and web series. Apart from her own writing, she also conducts a weekly storytelling class, where she mentors teenagers and young adults on the nuances of storytelling and creative writing.

  • 5 Writing Tools for Writing a Horror Story

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horror essay


Essay on Horror Story

Students are often asked to write an essay on Horror Story in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Horror Story


Horror stories are a genre of fiction that seeks to scare, disturb, or startle its readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror.

Elements of Horror

Key elements include suspense, surprise, and a sense of impending doom. Often, horror stories involve supernatural elements or entities.

Impact on Readers

These stories can have a profound impact on readers, evoking intense emotions and creating memorable experiences.

Despite their frightening nature, horror stories remain popular due to their ability to engage readers’ emotions and imagination in unique ways.

250 Words Essay on Horror Story

The intrigue of horror stories.

Horror stories have always captivated the human imagination. They are a mirror of our primal fears and anxieties, often personified in the form of ghosts, monsters, or uncanny events. The fascination for horror stories is not merely a pursuit of thrill, but a complex interplay of psychology, culture, and narrative techniques.

Psychological Appeal

At the heart of every horror story is the exploration of fear. Sigmund Freud’s concept of ‘the uncanny’ explains our attraction to horror as a confrontation with repressed fears and desires. This exploration of the unknown and the forbidden can be cathartic, allowing us to experience fear in a controlled environment.

Cultural Significance

Horror stories also reflect societal fears and anxieties. For instance, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” mirrors the 19th-century fear of scientific advancement, while George Orwell’s “1984” embodies the dread of totalitarian regimes. Thus, horror stories serve as cultural artifacts, offering insights into the zeitgeist of an era.

Narrative Techniques

The narrative techniques employed in horror stories are designed to evoke fear and suspense. Techniques such as foreshadowing, dramatic irony, and unreliable narrators keep readers on edge, while the use of dark, descriptive language helps create a chilling atmosphere.

In conclusion, horror stories are more than mere tales of terror. They are a reflection of our deepest fears, a commentary on societal anxieties, and a testament to the power of narrative techniques in evoking emotional responses. Their enduring popularity is a testament to their complexity and the human fascination with the macabre.

500 Words Essay on Horror Story

Horror stories have been a part of human culture for centuries, delighting and terrifying audiences in equal measure. They are narratives designed to frighten, cause dread or panic, or invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale. The horror genre taps into the primal fear within us, making us confront the unknown and the terrifying.

The Psychology behind Horror

Horror stories, in their essence, serve as a mirror to our psyche, reflecting our deepest fears and anxieties. They provoke a sense of fear and excitement, a thrilling cocktail of emotions that keep audiences coming back for more. The science of fear explains the allure of horror stories. The adrenaline rush, the heightened senses, and the relief after the threat has passed, all contribute to the addictive nature of horror.

The Evolution of Horror Stories

Horror stories have evolved significantly over the years, keeping pace with societal changes and shifts in what we fear. Early horror stories were often tied to religion, reflecting fears of the supernatural and the afterlife. As society became more secular, the focus shifted to the horrors of the human mind and the terrors of the unknown.

Modern horror stories, such as Stephen King’s works, often blend elements of the supernatural with the psychological, creating a sense of unease that lingers long after the story is over. The horror genre has also expanded into various sub-genres, such as psychological horror, supernatural horror, and body horror, each catering to different fears and anxieties.

The Impact of Horror Stories on Society

Horror stories have a profound impact on society, shaping and reflecting our collective fears. They often serve as social commentaries, highlighting societal issues under the guise of the supernatural or the macabre. The horror genre allows us to confront and discuss topics that might otherwise be considered taboo, such as death, violence, and the darker aspects of human nature.

In conclusion, horror stories are an integral part of our cultural fabric, serving as both entertainment and a means to explore our deepest fears and anxieties. They have evolved with society, reflecting our changing fears and serving as a commentary on societal issues. Despite their often gruesome and terrifying content, horror stories provide a safe space to explore the darker aspects of our psyche, helping us to understand and confront our fears. The enduring popularity of the horror genre is a testament to its ability to tap into our primal fears and its capacity to thrill, terrify, and captivate audiences.

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Best Essays and Books About Horror Movies

Learn more about your favorite frightening films, or film theories of horror itself, with this list of creepy books and essays.

You’ve probably wondered about the inspiration behind your favorite scary movies and the background of some of those horrifying stories. Sometimes the origins of a horror movie are as simple as an author telling a scary story, and at other times films are based on more sinister, true events . You might also be interested in the making of certain horror movies or the impact they have on the audience or the cast. Maybe you're into film theory and want to study the gender dynamics, cultural and political significance, and philosophy of horror, like in Carol Clover's seminal book Men, Women, and Chainsaws . Luckily, there are plenty of resources that explore these exact topics and the development of horror movies in general.

You might be interested in why people are attracted to horror movies and the act of feeling fear. In which case, you might want to read Stephen King’s essay Why We Crave Horror Movies . Digging even deeper, you might notice horror films can help us examine fears around eating, sexuality, religion, and more. You might even wonder about the characters that often die first and why, which is explained by Lindsay King-Miller in her essay A Love Letter to the Girls Who Die First in Horror Movies . Whatever it may be, in addition to the aforementioned texts, here are the best essays and books about horror movies.

Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares

Director John Landis ( American Werewolf in London, Twilight Zone: The Movie ) wrote a book on movie monsters covers some of cinema’s most terrifying creatures and their development. Landis explores the design of movie monsters and special effects, both in high and low-budget films. Monsters in the Movies includes interviews with the minds behind the monsters, their historical origins, and tricks behind bringing these ghouls to life.

Nothing Has Prepared Me for Womanhood Better than Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Sarah Kurchak’s essay examines a subject people might not consider in horror movies. The truth is that many scary films express beliefs about women and their experiences via horror and gore. Kurchak dissects how Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 features female stereotypes in hot pants but also explores women facing the threats of men and emerging from adolescence completely altered. Kurchak argues that this horror comedy can teach female viewers about what to expect from the world and adolescence.

Stephen King At the Movies: A Complete History of Film and Television Adaptations from the Master of Horror

The chilling stories of author Stephen King have made both startling reads and frightening films. King’s works have established more than 60 horror movies and 30 television series. This book covers the making of all of them, including behind-the-scenes material and King’s opinion on some adaptations. If you’re looking to dive deeper into some iconic films based on King’s stories , consider picking up Stephen King at the Movies .

There’s Nothing Scarier than a Hungry Woman

Remember how we said that horror movies can contain messages that don’t appear obvious on the surface? Laura Maw notices how in many horror movies there is always a scene of a ravenous woman eating, and her fascinating essay considers the meaning behind that.

Related: Best Performances in Horror Films of All Time, Ranked

Maw writes that “horror invites us to sit with this disgust, this anxiety, and to acknowledge our appetite and refuse to suppress it.” Maw presents a feminist analysis of hungry women in well-known horror movies in a way which both explores and challenges preconceptions about women.

Behind the Horror: True Stories that Inspired Horror Movies

Dr. Lee Miller’s research into the origin stories of movies like The Exorcist and A Nightmare on Elm Street are compiled in this handy book. Miller details the true accounts of disappearances, murders, and hauntings that inspired these hit movies.

Behind the Horror explains the history of the serial killers featured in Silence of the Lambs and takes a good look at the possessions that motivated the making of The Exorcist and The Conjuring 2 .

My Favorite Horror Movie: 48 Essays by Horror Creators on the Film that Shaped Them

Arguably one of the best books to read if you are curious about the makers behind famous horror movies. My Favorite Horror Movie features over 20 essays from filmmakers, actors, set designers, musicians, and more about the dark works that solidified their careers.

The films discussed include It , Halloween , The Shining , and others. It’s a good book for looking at horror movies from different angles and recognizing the many minds that contributed to these iconic works.

The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History

Yet another great book for establishing a rounded perspective of horror movies, this time in a much more visual way. The Art of Horror sorts through famous illustrations, movie posters, cover art, comics, paintings, photos, and filmmakers since the beginning of horror with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s infamous Frankenstein . Learn about these talented artists, their chilling work, and their impact on the direction of horror.

Wes Craven: Interviews

If you’re trying to hear from the best horror directors themselves, the Wes Craven interviews are a great place to start. Craven is responsible for films like Scream , The Hills Have Eyes , A Nightmare on Elm Street , and The Last House on the Left , and is often considered one of the greatest horror filmmakers of all time.

Related: The Best Scream Queens of All Time, Ranked

Craven established a particular style in his films that changed the way horror movies are made, and this book pulls information from the master himself. Wes Craven: Interviews includes almost 30 interviews with the director ranging from the 1980s until Craven passed away in 2015.

101 Horror Movies You Should See Before You Die

Ever wonder if you’re missing a great horror film from your spooky collection? This is the book for you. 101 Horror Movies You Should See Before You Die covers the absolute essentials of every kind of horror film, from gothic to slasher and international horror classics as well. Horror can take on so many different forms and this book is one of the best for finding horror films you might have missed.

The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects Stunts, and Stories Behind Your Every Fright

Authors Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence examine women in horror movies in this book that explores feminist horror films , and more misogynistic ones from the standpoint of feminist film theory. The Science of Women in Horror recalls the history of women in horror movies and goes on to analyze more recent, women-centered horror flicks and series such as The Haunting of Hill House and Buffy the Vampire Slayer . If you want to know more about the women on and off-screen in horror movies, check out this book!

  • Literary Terms
  • Definition & Examples
  • When & How to Use Horror

I. What is Horror?

In literature, horror (pronounced hawr-er)  is a genre of fiction whose purpose is to create feelings of fear, dread, repulsion, and terror in the audience—in other words, it develops an atmosphere of horror . The term’s definition emphasizes the reaction caused by horror, stemming from the Old French orror , meaning “to shudder or to bristle.”

Horror literature has roots in religion, folklore, and history; focusing on topics, fears, and curiosities that have continuously bothered humans in both the 12 th and 21 st centuries alike. Horror feeds on audience’s deepest terrors by putting life’s most frightening and perplexing things—death, evil, supernatural powers or creatures, the afterlife, witchcraft—at the center of attention.

II. Example of Horror

  Horror should make the reader feel afraid through imagery and language.

As the teenage boy stepped into the old mansion, his friends cackling behind him, he thought he could hear things that, he forced himself to believe, were in his head—rattling bones, scurrying rats, hushed whispers…and the slow drip, drip, drip, coming from a spot he told himself wasn’t really there; the red, oozing stain in the ceiling boards above. He only had to spend one hour in the house and he would prove to his friends that he wasn’t afraid. Just one hour. He took one last glance out the door before shutting out the light of the full moon, enclosing himself in complete darkness, with only the sound of his racing, terrified thoughts.

  First, example above uses words and phrases that create a creepy, unsettling air— rattling bones, rats, whispers, oozing, and so on. Second, there is an emphasis on the fact that the main character will be continuing his task alone, which is never comforting. Lastly, the setting—an old and likely haunted mansion, darkness, the full moon—helps to accomplish the feeling of foreboding in the situation.

III. Types of Horror

A.   gothic horror.

Gothic horror, also known as gothic fiction or gothic fantasy, is a dark style of fiction that combines horror and Romanticism. Its style combines the artistic pleasures of Romantic literature with the frightening elements of horror, making it terrifying in a seductive and pleasing way. Gothic horrors stories are written both with and without supernatural elements, but are always mysterious in nature. Examples include novels like Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde .

b. Supernatural Horror

A supernatural horror is work of fiction that relies heavily on supernatural or paranormal elements to drive the story, featuring things like ghosts, monsters, demons, aliens, witchcraft, zombies, and so on. The main source of terror in supernatural horrors is the human reaction to being faced with the unknown, usually in the midst of a serious conflict—i.e. a haunting, a possession, an invasion, a curse or omen, etc.

c. Non-supernatural Horror

A non-supernatural horror is a work of fiction that does not include supernatural elements, The terror of non-supernatural horror comes from the idea that what is happening in the story could plausibly occur in real life—usually involving the possibility of death—making it the ideal style for frightening crime or mystery stories.

IV. Importance of Horror

In what is often considered the most important essay on the horror genre ever written, “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” horror fiction author H.P Lovecraft begins by stating, “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Accordingly, horror is important because it unearths an audience’s deepest nightmares and anxieties and truly pushes the limits of human emotion and fear. Appreciably, horror writers often employ topics and ideas that the everyday person would be apprehensive of addressing.

V.  Examples of Horror in Literature

Short stories are an ideal and widely used form for horror literature, and Edgar Alan Poe is one of literature’s greatest Gothic horror story writers. His short stories are quintessential pieces of the genre and have been inspiring horror authors for decades. Below is a selection from his famous work, “The Tell Tale Heart”:

There came a light tap at the library door—and, pale as the tenant of a tomb, a menial entered upon tiptoe. His looks were wild with terror, and he spoke to me in a voice tremulous, husky, and very low. What said he?—some broken sentences I heard. He told of a wild cry disturbing the silence of the night—of the gathering together of the household—of a search in the direction of the sound; and then his tones grew thrillingly distinct as he whispered me of a violated grave—of a disfigured body enshrouded, yet still breathing—still palpitating—still alive!

  Poe expertly chooses his words to develop an air of terror, shock, and mystery. To learn more about the victim—the disfigured but still breathing body—the reader will have to continue, though they fear to find out who or what is responsible for this gory scene.

Not all horror has to be directly bloody or violent with its language. For example, William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” uses subtle cues and an air of mystery throughout the plotline, without truly revealing Emily’s dark side until the end of the tale—

The man himself lay in the bed. For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.

  In this passage, Faulkner tells the audience what happened to a man that disappeared from Emily’s town (and the story) years before. He has been found—or rather, his skeleton, which is subtly revealed through the language: a “fleshless grin.” With this short passage, the reader learns that there has been a murder, who the murderer is, and that Emily is more disturbed than anyone ever could have imagined.

VI.  Examples of Horror in Pop Culture

Present day author Stephen King is a giant in contemporary horror fiction. For 40 years his works have been dominating the horror market in literature and have had a huge presence in film and television—in fact, hundreds of his works have been adapted for the screen. Below is a clip from the icon horror novel and movie of the same name, The Shining:

Here's Johnny! - The Shining (7/7) Movie CLIP (1980) HD

This clip exhibits a scene from the film that has been a symbol of the horror genre for decades, including the infamous and often repreated phrase, “Here’s Johnny!”

Many pieces of horror literature have become cult classic horror films, for example, William Peter Blatty’s supernatural horror novel The Exorcist and the subsequent film, for which he also wrote the screenplay. Below is a clip of a well-known scene from the film, in which the priests perform an exorcism on Regan, a young girl whose body it has been possessed by a demon:

The Power of Christ Compels You - The Exorcist (4/5) Movie CLIP (1973) HD

The horrifying nature of this scene is obvious—a possessed child with a grotesque appearance, the presence of a supernatural spirit or demon, the use of religious power or magic to solve the situation, and so on. Though its visual effects may now be outdated, The Exorcist remains one of the most notoriously terrifying and disturbing horror movies to date.

VII. Related Terms

A thriller is a genre of whose primary feature is that it induces strong feelings of excitement, anxiety, tension, suspense, fear, and other similar emotions in its readers or viewers—in other words, media that thrills the audience. Essentially all horrors are thrillers because of the nature of their content; however, not all thrillers are horrors.

VIII. Conclusion

In conclusion, horror is a genre of literature designed for readers who want to be frightened and have their imaginations expanded through fear of the unknown and unexpected. It can be combined with other genres and styles to develop creative and frightening tales that leave audiences on the edge of their seats.

List of Terms

  • Alliteration
  • Amplification
  • Anachronism
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Antonomasia
  • APA Citation
  • Aposiopesis
  • Autobiography
  • Bildungsroman
  • Characterization
  • Circumlocution
  • Cliffhanger
  • Comic Relief
  • Connotation
  • Deus ex machina
  • Deuteragonist
  • Doppelganger
  • Double Entendre
  • Dramatic irony
  • Equivocation
  • Extended Metaphor
  • Figures of Speech
  • Flash-forward
  • Foreshadowing
  • Intertextuality
  • Juxtaposition
  • Literary Device
  • Malapropism
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Parallelism
  • Pathetic Fallacy
  • Personification
  • Point of View
  • Polysyndeton
  • Protagonist
  • Red Herring
  • Rhetorical Device
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Science Fiction
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • Synesthesia
  • Turning Point
  • Understatement
  • Urban Legend
  • Verisimilitude
  • Essay Guide
  • Cite This Website
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Home Essay Samples Literature

Essay Samples on Horror

Horror story about the halloween.

 One Halloween night my 3 friends and I decided to go trick or treating. This was my first night out on Halloween and I was honestly ecstatic. Our parents had informed us to not stay out for too long and emphasized we only stay in...

  • Bad Memories

Fantastique Aspects In Guy De Maupassant Horror Story Le Horla

Le Horla, written by the popular French writer Guy de Maupassant, is a horror story composed of fantasy. There are two versions in which the story has been framed, both describing the thoughts of a man who is completely convinced that an 'invisible being' is...

Review of one of the Most Iconic Horror Movies, Jaws

'Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...' If you've ever heard this phrase then you know it's synonymous with the film franchise Jaws. More specifically, in this review, I'd like to discuss the original film. Released forty-four years ago...

  • Horror Movies

The Shining Film Analysis: Music and Sound

The use of music and sound is an integral part of horror movies, and The Shining is no exception. The Shining film analysis essay will explore the various methods and reasons for the use of music and sound in The Shining. The film, directed by...

  • Film Analysis
  • The Shining

Brave New World: The Horrors of Totalitarian Government

Imagine your life controlled by someone you didn’t know, your every move watched and judged as if what you were doing was wrong. In the book “Brave New World” characters are forced to abide be the rules of the government with no control over their...

  • Brave New World

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The Origins Behind Many Vampire and Horror Stories

Horror movies, scary stories or anything related to ghosts: we all love to be scared sometimes! The ten places we have selected for you take us beyond fiction, All these places have the reputation of being haunted and would make the most adventurous trip! Sensitive...

An Overview of Zombies: Epidemiology of Fear

This article aimed to rationale how science fiction content describe and illustrate human culture through zombies. There was no formal concept of probability in Europe prior to the mid-17th century [3], despite the idea of randomized objects was already commonly seen. Asides from the first...

The Variation of Horror Genre and Its Examples

When I was a kid, I used to hate horror films, as the matter of fact, I refuse to watch them as I didn’t fathom why would anyone purposely scare themselves. For many people, horror movies are a horrendous experience. They hate to see graphic...

A Personal Theory of Aesthetic Horror

A fear or paranoia of pain, vulnerability and death, the feeling that someone is watching you, the feeling that your life is in jeopardy. Aesthetic horror is the same feeling as horror but through what we see. It is similar to horror because it is...

The Debate About the Horror Genre as Appropriate to Children

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! Everyone remembers the iconic 1980s movie Beetlejuice. This classic horror movie has been enjoyed by many kids and adults for years now. Beetlejuice is not the only iconic horror movie that is enjoyed by all age ranges. Gremlins another class favorite is...

Edgar Allan Poe: Life of The Most Famous Horror Author

Edgar Allan Poe born in Boston in 1809, Edgar Allan Poe was the second son of David Poe, who died before Edgar was three years old. Next years his mother died. He was taken by a wealthy Virginia merchant named John Allan - who gave...

  • Edgar Allan Poe

The Life of Edgar Allan Poe

Introduction Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston Massachusetts On January 19, 1809. Edgar Allan Poe had imaginative way of storytelling, tales of mystery and horror gave birth to the modern detective story. Poe never really knew his parents Elizabeth Arnold Poe, and his father...

An Observation of a Student Towards Mystery Horror Game: A Case Study

This thesis is based on research in observing on a frightening reaction of Akademi Seni, Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan student, and their experience while they are still playing the ‘SULUH’ Game. Their story is then captured into digital form and with the result of the...

  • Observation
  • Video Games

Shaun of the Dead and Tucker and Dale vs Evil: The Mix of Horror and Comedy

Horror and Comedy are complete opposites, yet they seem to work rather well together. The genre of horror-comedy was first introduced into film in 1922, with D.W. Griffith’s One Exciting Night. And since then, countless comedy horror films have been made. The thing is, both...

The In-Depth Meaning and Definition of Horror Genre

With frightful films about vampires, werewolves, and zombies earning so much attention in this last number of decades and new cinematic bloodbaths releasing regularly, the culture appetite for horror raises a question, why do people enjoy the feeling of being terrified? Watching horror is more...

Best topics on Horror

1. Horror Story About The Halloween

2. Fantastique Aspects In Guy De Maupassant Horror Story Le Horla

3. Review of one of the Most Iconic Horror Movies, Jaws

4. The Shining Film Analysis: Music and Sound

5. Brave New World: The Horrors of Totalitarian Government

6. The Origins Behind Many Vampire and Horror Stories

7. An Overview of Zombies: Epidemiology of Fear

8. The Variation of Horror Genre and Its Examples

9. A Personal Theory of Aesthetic Horror

10. The Debate About the Horror Genre as Appropriate to Children

11. Edgar Allan Poe: Life of The Most Famous Horror Author

12. The Life of Edgar Allan Poe

13. An Observation of a Student Towards Mystery Horror Game: A Case Study

14. Shaun of the Dead and Tucker and Dale vs Evil: The Mix of Horror and Comedy

15. The In-Depth Meaning and Definition of Horror Genre

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  • William Shakespeare
  • A Raisin in The Sun
  • Sonny's Blues
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Helen Keller
  • Call of The Wild
  • A Farewell to Arms
  • Charlotte’s Web

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Our Favorite Essays and Stories About Horror Films

horror essay

Reading Lists

Make tonight's evil dead marathon more literary with our best writing about the genre.

horror essay

It’s the spookiest day of the spookiest season, but you already had your party last weekend, and now you have to stay home and either hand out candy to grabby children or turn out all lights visible from the street and pretend you’re not home. What makes a night in both fun and seasonally appropriate? Horror movies, of course! So while you’re waiting for, or hiding from, trick-or-treaters tonight, put on a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon and make your way through some of the best stuff we’ve published about scary films.

“ There’s Nothing Scarier Than a Hungry Woman ” by Laura Maw

Maybe you haven’t noticed this, but horror movies contain a lot of scenes of women eating—and not only eating, but eating voraciously. Laura Maw has noticed, and she thinks she understands. This essay is both a sensitive cultural analysis of a horror movie trope and a beautiful personal narrative of coming to terms with both the threat and the banality of hunger.

As a woman, to say that you have found eating uncomfortable at times is not particularly groundbreaking. The anxiety has become mundane because it is so common for women, but isn’t that in itself noteworthy? Horror invites us to sit with this disgust, this anxiety, to acknowledge our appetite, to refuse to let us suppress it. There is something uncomfortable and enthralling about watching a woman devour what she likes with intent.

“ Horror Lives in the Body ” by Meg Pillow Davis

This Best American Essays notable is about the physical experience of horror—both horror films, and the familiar horrors we encounter in our normal lives, the ways we brush up against mortality and violation and fear. Why do we seek out this physical experience—”the pupil dilation, the quickening heart, the sweat forming on your upper lip and the surface of your palms, and the nearly overwhelming urge to cover your eyes or run from the room”?

If those other viewers are anything like me, they watch horror movies because they recognize the horror, because its familiarity is strange and terrifying and unavoidable. It is the lure of the uncanny filtering into the cracks and crevices of the cinematic landscape and drawing us in.

“ What ‘Halloween’ Taught Me About Queerness ” by Richard Scott Larson

Michael Myers wears a mask to hide his face while he kills—but is that the only mask he wears? Richard Scott Larson talks about watching Halloween obsessively as an adolescent, while he was starting to understand that his own desires were also considered monstrous.

The experience of adolescence as a closeted queer boy is one of constantly attempting to imitate the expression of a desire that you do not feel. Identification with a bogeyman, then, shouldn’t be so surprising when you imagine the bogeyman as unfit for society, his true nature having been rejected and deemed horrific.

“ If My Mother Was the Final Girl ” by Michelle Ross

The “final girl” is the one who’s left standing at the end of the film, the one who survives the carnage. But what do you call someone who’s still standing after childhood trauma? This short story is about horror films, but more than that, it’s about mother-daughter relationships—a deeper and more mundane form of horror than the kind in slasher flicks.

The one thing my mother and I share is a love for slasher films. When the first girl gets hacked up or sawed in half or stabbed in the breast, my mother says, “Now there’s real life for you.” And I glance at her sideways and think, you can say that again.

“ A Love Letter to the Girls Who Die First in Horror Films ” by Lindsay King-Miller

Unlike the “final girl,” the girl who dies first doesn’t have a catchy title. Lindsay King-Miller writes about the lost friend who taught her that we don’t all have it in us to be a final girl—and that we should celebrate the girl who dies first, because she’s not living in fear.

To survive a horror story you have to realize you’re in one. The girl who dies thinks she’s in a different kind of story, one that’s about her and what she wants: to dance, to party, to fuck, to feel good. She thinks she is the subject of this story, the one who watches, desires, sees, the one who acts upon the world. She does not feel the eyes on her, does not know she is being observed, that her fate is not to reshape the world but to be reshaped by it.

“ Nothing Has Prepared Me For The Reality of Womanhood Better Than ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’ ” by Sarah Kurchak

Yes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a cheesy horror-comedy hybrid in which women are menaced and their bodies are treated as set dressing. But so is adolescence. Sarah Kurchak writes about the many ways in which this movie taught her what to expect from the world.

Sure, this was, on many levels, a schlocky B-movie with so many of the expected hallmarks of the time — women in hot pants and peril, over-the-top gore. But it was a schlocky B-movie in which a woman faced men’s threats, both implicit and explicit, and was left breathing but almost unrecognizable at the end of it. That felt familiar.

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horror essay

Loneliness Is a Ghost

Miciah Bay Gault, author of "Goodnight Stranger," on non-belonging and writing the supernatural

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horror essay


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horror essay

“In Bierce, the evocation of horror becomes for the first time, not so much the prescription or perversion of Poe and Maupassant, but an atmosphere definite and uncannily precise. Words, so simple that one would be prone to ascribe them to the limitations of a literary hack, take on an unholy horror, a new and unguessed transformation. In Poe one finds it a tour de force, in Maupassant a nervous engagement of the flagellated climax. To Bierce, simply and sincerely, diabolism held in its tormented depth, a legitimate and reliant means to the end. Yet a tacit confirmation with Nature is in every instance insisted upon. “In ‘The Death of Halpin Frayser’, flowers, verdure, and the boughs and leaves of trees are magnificently placed as an opposing foil to unnatural malignity. Not the accustomed golden world, but a world pervaded with the mystery of blue and the breathless recalcitrance of dreams, is Bierce’s. Yet, curiously, inhumanity is not altogether absent.”
“There is a glory in the autumn wood; The ancient lanes of England wind and climb Past wizard oaks and gorse and tangled thyme To where a fort of mighty empire stood: There is a glamour in the autumn sky; The reddened clouds are writhing in the glow Of some great fire, and there are glints below Of tawny yellow where the embers die. I wait, for he will show me, clear and cold, High-rais’d in splendour, sharp against the North, The Roman eagles, and thro’ mists of gold The marching legions as they issue forth: I wait, for I would share with him again The ancient wisdom, and the ancient pain.”

Why We Crave Horror Movies

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Summary: “why we crave horror movies”.

In the essay “Why We Crave Horror Movies,” Stephen King—a novelist and writer known as the “King of Horror”—elucidates what draws people to not just watch but crave horror movies. The essay was first published in the January 1981 issue of Playboy magazine, by which time King had written seven novels ( Carrie , The Shining , Salem’s Lot , The Dead Zone , The Stand , Firestarter, and Cujo ) , a novella, several novels published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, a short fiction collection, and the nonfiction book Danse Macabre . In 1976, his novel Carrie was adapted into a film, the first of many of his books to be adapted for the screen, including Salem’s Lot in 1979 (as a television miniseries) and The Shining in 1980.

This study guide refers to a reprint of “Why We Crave Horror Movies” published in Models for Writers: Short Essays for Composition, Eighth Edition from 2004, edited by Alfred Rosa and Paul Eschholz. King’s essay examines why modern movie audiences love to watch horror films—the primitive urges and emotions that drive this desire and the necessity to express them. He proposes that the appetite for horror is a need that all people have.

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Content Warning : The essay refers to “insanity,” which is often a stigmatizing term to discuss mental health and psychology. To reflect this, the guide encases the term in quotation marks. The essay also refers to lynching.

King begins with the idea that all people are “insane” in some way but that most are adept at hiding it. He notes that everyone has seen a person on the street who seems to be “insane” or knows someone with an irrational fear. King posits that the “insanity” of everyday people stems from irrational fears, such as the fear of snakes, claustrophobia, or the fear of heights—and the ultimate, most notable fear: the fear of death. King proposes that going to see a horror movie is a way of “daring the nightmare” or facing that fear (Paragraph 2), albeit differently than facing the fear head-on.

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He points out the different reasons that people watch horror movies, such as to prove that they have no fear, for amusement, and to confirm their sense of “normality” by comparing themselves to the characters and plots of these movies and viewing them as separate from their own lives. He notes that watching horror movies for fun and as a form of entertainment is a strange pastime because of the enjoyment of seeing others being stalked or killed by evil entities. King cites an unnamed critic who makes the case that horror movies are the “modern version of the public lynching” (Paragraph 6) because of its public and collective nature; watching a lynching, while horrific, was once a means of entertainment, a desire for human bloodshed that resides in just about everyone. He considers how the past experience of attending a lynching parallels the collective experience and entertainment of watching horror films in the present day.

King explains that horror movies provide audiences with absolutes, and he emphasizes that they remove the middle ground between “black and white,” or “good and evil.” Characters must be one or the other. Such films allow the viewer’s emotions and irrational side to run wild in a way similar to how children experience emotions and life without having much ability to control their feelings. He notes that society allows the sharing of certain emotions, like love and kindness, but emotions that are “anticivilization,” such as hatred or disdain, while meant to be suppressed, still require exercise, much like people exercise to maintain muscular strength. Horror movies provide a type of exercise for one’s “primitive” urges and emotions, he argues, that addresses these emotions without either suppressing them or letting them run rampant. They provide a certain equilibrium for the mind, keeping it balanced. Furthermore, King posits, all people experience these “uncivilized” emotions because everyone is “insane” in some way—everyone fears something, no matter how much or little that fear exhibits itself. He refers to this shared “insanity” existing along a spectrum, on which serial killers are on the extreme end, distant from the mild “insanity” of “regular” people who enjoy horror movies or might laugh at an inappropriate joke. He compares horror movies to jokes that are considered “sick”; both are similarly inappropriate entertainment for audiences or listeners.

King characterizes top-tier horror films as “reactionary, anarchistic, and revolutionary” (Paragraph 11), noting that they bring out the darkest aspects of people, the parts that enjoy a “sick” joke or the “insanity” that lies dormant in them most of the time. Horror films shine a light on the uncivilized nature that all people carry within them.

He concludes by considering why people should watch horror movies: not just for enjoyment but to keep humans’ primal urges and feelings from escaping and reaching the real world: Horror films thus allow audiences to tap into those urges and emotions without experiencing them in the extreme. He proposes that humans must experience these urges periodically in order to maintain their goodness and the positive emotions they bring to society.

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Short horror story essay

Short horror story essay 8 Models

Last updated Friday , 15-03-2024 on 11:35 am

Short horror story essay is one of the popular intimidation methods that help parents in correcting children and improving their behavior in many educational aspects.

Through this article, we will provide you with many models that talk about stories of horror and intimidation that may help or influence the behavior of children, show the goals of horror stories, and the extent of the impact of these stories on improving children’s instincts, and strengthening their personality.

Short horror story essay

The school plays an important and significant role in educating children and improving their behaviour. In a similar article that talks about horror stories, the student can learn about the dimensions of these stories, the extent of their impact and why they are used.

The student can talk about his fears and terrifying situations he went through. The teacher can take advantage of these events and try to address these fears by guiding him and talking to him, or by making him research more about the dimensions of the problem and the benefits that he benefited from despite going through a terrifying situation.

At the beginning of the article we will put several points that show the goals that must be present within the topic, and several models will be created using these points inside them, so that the articles are useful for the student in case he wants to present them to the school, or if he wants to know the aspects that he should talk about inside a similar article he talks about the horror stories and the bad situations he was exposed to.

Objectives of the article

1- To obey orders.

2- Giving up bad behavior.

3- Repressing the evil instincts that are inside every human being.

4- Controlling the child in the safety zone next to the parents.

5- Planting correct means and methods through intimidation.

Several years ago, my father told me a story about a boy  who went out without telling his family where he was going. And this was late at night. After he left, he met some children and played a little with them and enjoyed this, but because of the late time these children left him, some of them returned to their home alone, and some of them their families came to to pick them up, and he found himself alone in the end.

He decided to walk around for a while, so that he might encounter other children and continue playing with them. But after walking for a long time, he found that all the streets were empty, and it was dark everywhere, and he could no longer discern where he was, and that he was far from home and lost his way.

And whenever he tried to return from where he came, he found himself in dangerous areas with street dogs, and in order to avoid them, he kept entering other streets, until he lost the way completely. So he sat crying and did not find anyone to bring him home because all the people of the town were asleep.

The time at night was getting hard for this naughty little boy. Every minute that passes feels like it’s a long time and he’s so afraid of darkness and loneliness. And whenever he heard the sound of dogs howling, intensified in crying. And whenever he called his father, he did not come to take him, because he was far from the house and did not tell them that he was going out, and did not tell them where he was going.

Then he learned that he had made a big mistake and that his father would not come to look for him because he thought he was asleep. And he decided to try to call for help and search for any place where there are people and tell them what happened.

And he kept walking in the dark crying for a long time until he found some people, and told them his name, where he lived, and the name of the neighborhood in which he lived. Fortunately for him, they weren’t bad guys, and they brought this guy home.

The father was very angry with him for this behavior and punished him for a week for this behavior. But the boy was happy that he came home and learned the lesson well and knew that this wrong behavior was dangerous and could have lost his family for life.

While hearing this story, I was very afraid and put myself in the place of this boy, and I found myself learning from him what to do. And that I must tell my family where I am going, and watch the time, and take care of myself and not stay away from home. When I finish playing, I go home.

In the early morning, I was very careful to memorize my full name, the name of the neighborhood in which I live, the name of my mother, and the house number.

Although the story was scary for me, I learned a lot from it and had a reaction to every event that takes place in it.

Dear student, a basic form was submitted for the topic on short horror story essay, In addition to many other models such as, horror short story essay, creepy short horror story essay, a short horror story essay, short ghost story essay, short ghost story essay, scary short story essay, scary experience essay.

If you prefer to add any other topic, you can contact us through the comments of this article and we will study your request and add it as soon as possible.

horror short story essay

At the weekend I went on a trip with my friends to the forest. We took camping equipment, some food and water. The weather was nice, the trees were leafy, the birds were flying from tree to tree, the landscape was beautiful.

We wandered in the woods and ate the fruits on the trees, and as we wandered, a huge bear appeared in front of us, looked at us and prepared to attack us.

We were all very terrified, but the instructions reminded us not to run, not to scream, and to act calmly. I took out of my bag a self-defense spray bottle, which should be used in this case. But the bear left quietly and none of us were hurt.

creepy short horror story essay

I get up early and sit in the garden of the house, enjoying the fresh air, listening to the sound of birds, watching beautiful flowers and other beautiful landscapes, but yesterday something terrifying happened to me.

When I sat on the bench in the garden and was enjoying nature I felt something moving under the chair.

I quickly looked under the chair and found a large black snake.

It moves slowly, I felt very terrified and could not move, I remained frozen in my place, the snake crawled slowly and I looked at it with horror, until it moved away several meters, I called the competent authority immediately and a trained man came and caught the snake.

a short horror story essay

Last week I went with my family to the zoo, the weather was nice, and we were enjoying the nature, where there are a lot of green leafy trees and decorated with beautiful flowers and large areas that allow us to run and play, everything was beautiful.

Then we went to the animal cages and watched the animals from a distance.

But there is a person who got very close to the lion’s cage, even though there is a sign on it that says Do not go near the animal cages.

He was not satisfied with that, but he extended his hand into the cage, and the lion grabbed his hand with force, and this person was unable to rid his hand of the lion’s fangs.

The man screamed loudly from the severity of the pain, and the guard came quickly and tried to give the lion a piece of meat to leave the man’s hand, but to no avail.

The veterinarian quickly intervened and gave the lion an anesthetic injection, and the man was able to get his hand out of the cage, but it had many wounds and was taken to the hospital. It was really terrifying moments.

Short ghost story essay

There are many people who feel terrified in the dark, and my brother is very afraid of the dark and feels terrified and imagines frightening things.

So when the electricity went out and the house became dark. I went to his room quietly without feeling, and stood in front of him, making some strange sounds.

My brother jumped quickly and came out of the room saying a ghost of a ghost, but he hit the wall and cut his head and bled a lot, it was a big wound.

At that time I was telling him don’t be afraid, I am your brother, but he was very frightened. I was very sorry for him and regretted that I had caused him to feel terrified and made him crash into the wall.

And I told him I was just trying to joke with you and I wouldn’t do it again but you should train yourself not to be afraid of the dark.

A Short Scary Story Essay

Last weekend I went with my friends on a fishing trip. We chartered a fishing boat with all our fishing gear and went into the sea for a long distance, so that we could see neither the beach nor the city.

We started fishing and we were very happy because there are many fish and they are also big, and the weather was nice.

Suddenly strong winds blew and the waves rose, and the fishing boat was swinging with us over the water, up and down, and we couldn’t control it.

At this time we felt so afraid that we would drown.The fishing boat cannot withstand these bad weather conditions.

But after a while the wind calmed down a bit and we miraculously survived.

Scary short story essay

Last weekend I went with my colleagues on a school trip to one of the archaeological sites, and we had some teachers with us organizing the trip and supervising our transfers.

We entered a museum that houses great antiquities and stood listening to the tour guide talking about the history of these antiquities.

I was fascinated and listened to the tour guide with great interest, so that I did not feel the departure of my colleagues and teachers, as they left the museum and got on the bus and left this place and did not feel my absence.

When I found myself alone in the museum, I felt very afraid and searched for them all over the museum, but I could not find them, so my fear increased and my crying became louder.

Suddenly I found one of the teachers entering the museum and looking for me, so I ran towards him and grabbed his hand and felt safe.

Scary Experience Essay

At the end of the year I had a frightening experience. I went to the beach and decided to snorkel, so I bought wetsuits, put them on, and dived into the sea. But it was not what I expected and almost drowned.

I was so scared when I found myself unable to dive, and could not swim to the top.

It was a difficult situation but one of the lifeguards on the beach saw me, knew I was going to drown and ran to save me.

Therefore, I advise others to learn before we do anything that might endanger our lives.

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Home — Essay Samples — Entertainment — Movie Review — Essay On Horror Films


Essay on Horror Films

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Published: Mar 14, 2024

Words: 761 | Pages: 2 | 4 min read

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Horror Essay

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Essay on Horror

A horror essay can be written in many different ways. A horror essay can be based on the genre of horror, on the various famous directors in horror, the characters immortalized in movies etc. Horror films, their plots, and how they hold audiences also make a good horror essay topic. Genres like Gothic horror and its elements are also a much discussed theme in horror essays. You can also write a horror essay about how certain films changed the whole perspective and path in horror film-making.  There are horror essay papers written on themes like science fiction or psycho killer or outer space.

Help with Writing Your Horror Essays

A horror essay can be a review of a new horror movie as well. Your horror essay can rate it on the thrills and chills, various effects, direction, costumes, artwork, and so on. A horror essay can also be a comparison between two works or genres in horror. The horror essay can be about why people love horror, what holds the fascination, and what horror fans look for in a horror movie. A horror essay can have many underlying themes and undercurrents discussing and elaborating on how horror is a genre that is respected in film-making.

You horror essay can be an analysis of short horror films as well. A horror essay could be about Japanese and Chinese horror films, their remakes and how horror films and genres are different across the globe. Horror essay is about all this and more. Horror essay is something that requires a genuine interest and understanding of horror film-making and its elements. Related readings: argumentative essay writing, cause and effect essay paper writing and personal essay writing assistance.

For those who cannot sit through horror films and writing an essay on horror can be a painful process. You can always use an online writing service to have your horror essay written in a unique manner. Your horror essay can be a personal masterpiece delivered to you without having to watch different horror genres. Your horror essay could be on a horror story that you made up. A horror essay on a horror movie will act as a review on the movie for readers. More related readings: persuasive essay writing, research essay paper writing and response essay writing help.

A horror essay is not an easy job, it requires us to understand the nuances of horror film-making, the audience, and effects the movie was set to accomplish. Horror film-making is a fine art in many circles and it can be written upon in length into a horror essay.


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Horror Essay Examples

Exploring the fascination: stephen king's "why we crave horror movies".

Stephen King, a master of the horror genre, delves into the intriguing topic of our fascination with horror movies in his essay "Why We Crave Horror Movies." This essay offers a unique perspective on the psychological, social, and cultural aspects that contribute to our enduring...

The More Successful the Villain, the More Successful the Picture

One may agree with the comment “the more successful the villain, the more successful the picture” was stated by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The plots and those villains in Psycho and Rope could show how successful Hitchcock presents the suspense in his films....

Analysis of Why People Desire Horror Movies

She sits in her bed with the lights dimmed down and the popcorn bowl strapped to her side. She picks up a handful of popcorn to shove in her mouth when she jumps as the murderer comes out to attack the main character in the...

Analysis of the Movie Get Out

They value Chris’s physical characteristics like his creative sight rather than he himself. As seen in the movie, the procedure is only done on black people because the white community disregarded the minority free will. The normality is ruined when Chris senses the danger and...

The Black Men as the Victims of Biases in the Horror Film Get Out

The horror movie genre unravels viewers minds and gets fear from within in us, that we did not know previously existed and breaks our perception of everyday life. Because of this, horror movies have tropes that reflect standard human fears. Horror movies give us a...

Review of Get Out Horror Movie and Its Main Character

The horror genre began as a way to break our views of everyday life and lets the viewer get a close contact of their fears in our safe domain. Because of this, horror movies have tropes that reflect common human fears. At least they are...

Critique on Binarism in Respect to the Attic and Cellar Representing the Rational and Irrational Entity of the Home

Bachelard’s claims of binarism in respect to the attic and cellar representing the rational and irrational entity of the home is incorrect if one was to look at the functionality of the spaces, in todays world we find more uses for the basement and it...

The Impact of Gothic Literature on Creation of Horror Films

Edgar Allen Poe wrote amazing writings that included Gothic Literature with all his suspense and mysterious acts. Poe made a very big impact on Gothic Literature. Poe’s writings impacted people from his writings and inspired them to write also, even to make a film from...

Feminization of Male Characters in Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

Gothic Horror is distinguished as a masculine genre of the Gothic. Hence, it is portrayed to be much more gruesome and intense in comparison to the sublime, feminine category of the terror gothic. In Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, Jonathan Harker is feminised in a way...

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About Horror

Horror is a film genre that seeks to elicit fear or disgust in its audience for entertainment purposes.

Horror is a genre of literature, film, and television that is meant to scare, startle, shock, and even repulse audiences. The key focus of a horror novel, horror film, or horror TV show is to elicit a sense of dread in the reader through frightening images, themes, and situations.

Body horror, Comedy horror, Folk horror, Found footage horror, Gothic horror, Natural horror, Slasher film, Supernatural horror, Teen horror, Psychological horror.

Audience members with positive feedback regarding the horror film have feelings similar to happiness or joy felt with friends, but intensified. Alternatively, audience members with negative feedback regarding the film would typically feel emotions they would normally associate with negative experiences in their life. uses cookies to offer you the best service possible.By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy .--> -->