BOO! Halloween is right around the corner—what better day to write some spooky stories? Sharpen your pencil and take a stab at one of these Halloween writing prompts!

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Scary Stories Connect With Readers in Big Ways

Writers write to get a reaction out of their readers. No matter the genre, you want your reader to feel something when they read your writing.

For horror writers, that feeling is fear. But it’s also so much more than that.

Great horror stories take the everyday creepy and turn it into something even more creepy (and often become a condemnation of injustices in society). And then, the great thing is, horror stories teach you that those creepy things can be beaten. That’s what keeps bringing the readers back.

And that’s why horror writers keep churning out the fear.

Maybe you love writing scary stories. Maybe you don’t, but this is something you’d like to take a whack at, just for practice (we’re fans about that around here!).

Just like reading outside your genre is valuable to mastering the writing craft, so is writing a scary story.

This story doesn’t have to be long, it could be a short story. Try for something you can write in one sitting, like 1,500 words.

To get you started, use one of the Halloween writing prompts suggested in this article. Then let loose, and have fun!

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Creepy Story Writing Prompts

1. It’s late at night, and you hear footsteps in the cellar but you’re definitely home alone…or so you thought.

2. You’ve put that doll in the cabinet, in the closet, in the attic, but no matter where you tuck it, it always shows back up on the sofa. On Halloween night, you find it watching you…

3. A bad-tempered businessman is driving home after a long day of work. He thinks he sees his kids trick-or-treating and stops to pick them up but those aren’t costumes.

4. It’s Halloween night and you and your friends think it would be fun to visit the local town’s annual corn maze. But when you’re inside it, someone inside the maze doesn’t look like an actor in a costume. And shortly after, your friends start to disappear one by one.

5. You don’t believe in the rumors that say a certain scary book is cursed—and that anyone who reads it will meet their maker by the end of the week. So naturally, you read it. And then things start going wrong…

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Monster/Ghost Story Writing Prompts

6. A young woman goes to her grandmother’s house for tea on Halloween night. They have a wonderful time together, sharing stories, joy, and the best times of family. The next day, the woman learns her grandmother has been dead for a week and no one could get ahold of her to tell her.

7. A little boy is lost in the woods, but at least his faithful dog is with him. As they look for the way out, the dog defends his master against terrifying monsters and animals. But the closer they get to the escaping the dark forest, the more apparent it is that they’ll need to face the person, or thing, releasing these monsters in the first place.

8. A farmer who dreams of being a scientist experiments on this year’s pumpkins, hoping to enlarge them. He has a lot of success, until one of his potions is tampered with, and the cute pumpkin in his patch morphs into a monster that eats anyone who stumbles over its vines.

9. Your girlfriend/boyfriend brings over your favorite treat on Halloween, but when you eat it, you transform into a giant, poisonous snake that kills anyone who touches you. What do you do next?

10. You wake up on Halloween night, look outside your window, and see your sister sleep walking away from the house. You chase after her but can’t catch her until she plunges into a dark lake, where there’s a mysterious song that starts to pull you deep below the surface.

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Not-So-Spooky Story Writing Prompts

Not all people love scary stories. If this is you but you’d like to try to write a scary story—and have a fun time writing it—try tackling a (not-so) scary story prompt that could turn a potentially scary tale into something that is fun (even funny):

11. You hate clowns, which makes it even worse when your husband secretly decides to hire a clown for you son’s birthday party—which just happens to be on Halloween.

12. Aliens have just landed on Earth and boy, did they pick a weird day to come. How do they respond to Halloween, supernatural or otherwise? Do they decide this place is just too bizarre and get the heck out, or do they stick around and join in the fun?

13. On Halloween night, lovers get to come back and spend the evening together one more time. One couple from the Roaring Twenties decides to come back from the grave to help their extreme nerd great-grandchild or the kid will never get married.

14. You decide that this year you’re going to crash the ten top costume parties in town—and prank each one while you’re at it.

15. A mad scientist determined to destroy the world falls hopelessly in love with a not-so-wicked witch. As hard as he tries, he can’t impress her.

Write Your Spooky Stories

Writing a scary story can be a fun exercise to give your students (regardless of age, elementary students to college graduates) around this time of year. It also can stir some exciting writing ideas in any writer, whether or not they’re part of an entire class or their personal writing group.

As mentioned above, writing scary stories can also push you to better your creative writing skills, even if it’s not normally in your genre lane. Bestselling author Neil Gaiman has some great insight about why this is true:

Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

You don’t have to love horror stories to write one, but you will learn about protagonists who face trialing, often life or death, situations when writing them. Challenge students or writers to become better at their writing craft by pushing them to write a short scary story with one of the writing prompts in this article.

Sit down with your favorite candy or flavor of candy corn and get ready to write. Pluck it from the list, and let your imagination free!

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Happy Halloween!

What is your favorite Halloween writing prompt from this list? Why did it stand out to you? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Choose one of these prompts and take fifteen minutes to draft a short story, or start writing it.
When you’re done, take an hour or less and write your Halloween story in a single rush of writing.
When you’re done, share your creepy tale in the comments below so we can all join in the fun!And if you share, be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers!

Abigail Perry is a Certified Story Grid Editor with professional teaching, literary agency, and film production experience. In addition to writing Story Grid masterwork guides, she works as a freelance editor and is the Content Editor for The Write Practice. Abigail loves stories that put women and diverse groups at the center of the story—and others that include superpowers and magic. Her favorite genres include: Smart Book Club Fiction, Women's Fiction, YA Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and unique memoirs. She also has a B.S. in TV, Radio, and Film and loves working on screenplays that are emotionally driven and/or full of action. You can learn more about Abigail on her website.

Best-Selling author Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and was keynote speaker for The Write Practice 2021 Spring Retreat.

Author of two series with five books and fifty short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom, using up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon.

When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away.

P.S. Red is still her favorite color.

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