"So where do the ideas—the salable ideas—come from? They come from my nightmares. Not the night-time variety, as a rule, but the ones that hide just beyond the doorway that separates the conscious from the unconscious."
- Stephen King
Horror often gets a bad rap because people assume that it's only purpose is to terrify and shock readers. While that is true, that's not the primary focus. The point of horror is to allow a safe reflection of our own primal fears. We watch a slasher film, become terrified, but we also remember to lock the doors at night. It's important to keep this in mind when crafting your own terrifying tale.
Here's a few horror prompts to start with:
Your character takes a short cut through a nearby cemetery to make it home before dark. On the way they hear a voice calling for help. Upon arriving at the source of the sound, they see that a grave has been dug up part way and a coffin is nailed shut. Someone inside is crying.
After an intense battle with a strange disease, your character accepts the fact that they will die. However, it just so happens that a cure is discovered in the nick of time. What's the cure? Blood. Lots and lots of it.
A group of characters are on a ghost tour in one of the supposedly most haunted places on Earth. In truth, no one in the group actually believes in ghosts - until they start to disappear one by one.
A child psychiatrist has a particularly disturbing patient who won't stop drawing everyone around them in macabre death scenes; from drownings to suicides. While certainly bizarre, the strange hobby isn't exactly harmful - that is until the drawings suddenly play out in reality.
Your character whips out their phone, takes a selfie, and then opens the picture gallery to admire what could be their next profile pic. That's when they see it; dozens and dozens of photos they don't remember taking. Each more disturbing than the last.
Did you know that I have a book of even more horror prompts? 1,001 of them to be exact! There are a host of different categories, from serial killers to cults. They are also completely different than the five prompts above.
Available in print, ebook, and soon to be audio. Check it out here!