If you’re looking for idea starters, writing prompts and plot ideas for a mystery novel, a horror novel, a thriller, or any kind of spooky screenplay, you might find what you’re looking for here! These are also great for creative writing exercises, especially around Halloween.
If you are easily scared and have an over-active imagination, just skip this one. If you do get a little creeped out by it, just remember it’s all nonsense that I made up while I was exercising on the treadmill or sitting in bed.
Some of these are skeletal (ha) plot ideas (or master plots), while others are images or suggestions. And I’ll be sharing a spooky music playlist in my next newsletter for writing… or just for getting into the Halloween spirit. (If you don’t get my newsletter, you can sign up here!)
- A musician practices. When she finishes a piece, she hears someone clapping for her, although she lives alone.
- Frightening events in a small town lead its citizens to dig up the grave of a deceased inhabitant.
- Someone gets on the elevator by himself and is never seen by his friends or family again.
- The Furies—the vengeance deities of classic mythology—are back in business again.
- A collector buys an unpublished manuscript by an obscure writer that describes a terrible historical event a year before it occurred. The collector learns the writer wrote many unpublished stories…
- Creating a hybrid of a human and this particular animal turns out to be a bad idea.
- A person has the ability to make other people very ill.
- The dead walk out of the sea.
- An individual begins seeing and hearing from someone who looks just like her – and learns she had a twin who died at birth.
- A killer places an advertisement for a willing victim and finds one.
- A basement contains jars filled with unusual specimens.
- A person finds new photos of herself on her cell phone that she didn’t take.
- The spirit of a brutalized slave or prisoner of war wants revenge on his tormentor’s descendants.
- A couple vacationing in a remote area begins having the same nightmares.
- All of the circus performers were killed in the train wreck.
- The television switches to another station of its own accord and plays footage of something horrible that happened long before the technology existed to record it.
- A spouse or sibling dies. He or she begins to take over the body of the surviving spouse or sibling.
- Weekend adventurers explore a cave and can’t find their way out again. Then they encounter something terrible…
- Authorities go through the cluttered apartment of a deceased man who lived alone with no known friends or relatives for decades and find something disturbing.
- A group of teenagers trolls everyone else in an online group by telling made-up stories about terrible things they’ve done. Things then get out of hand.
- It’s bad luck in the theatre to call the Shakespeare play Macbeth by name, but someone in the company keeps doing it anyway… and the superstition proves true.
- Every exhibit in this carnival sideshow is fake. Except this one thing.
- An individual develops a terror of water – drinking it, touching it, or even being near it. There’s actually a good reason why.
- The grandfather clock starts running backwards.
- People in this neighborhood begin having freak accidents that involve normal appliances and machinery, such as blenders, weed whackers, and garage doors.
- The cure for a new deadly epidemic is almost scarier than the disease.
- He locked the doors and shuttered the windows; it came in through the roof.
- A woman is happy when her dead loved one comes back to life… but he’s changed.
- This centuries-old beauty secret is effective but horrifying.
- A killer toys with his victims by orchestrating a series of false hopes for them.
- She wakes up in the middle of the night and runs out to a certain tree.
- Tourists on a ghost tour, along with their guide, fall into the hands of an evil presence.
- A young woman is impregnated by her handsome new boyfriend, who turns out to be something other than human.
- The empty swing is swinging.
- A bride on her honeymoon discovers she’s not her new husband’s first wife… not even close.
- Long ago, when he was a baby, a man’s parents made an unwise deal in order to bring him back from the dead.
- Members of a family or people in a town begin sleepwalking and doing strange things in their sleep.
- A young man confesses to a killing that hasn’t happened. The murder he describes takes place while he’s in custody.
- Grisly events happen after the arrival of a hypnotist in Victorian London.
- An author’s fictional villain stalks him.
- Fraternity hazing goes way too far.
- It always happens when he’s alone in the car.
- A patient in a mental hospital encounters a malevolent ghost, but nobody believes her.
- A mother’s young child may or may not be a changeling.
- Swarms of insects appear in various places in a town, always followed by an untimely death.
- The ghost at the movie theater wants everyone to watch one particular snippet of film.
- A child’s imaginary friend starts to cause real trouble.
- When putting together a slide show for a wedding or funeral, someone notices that for decades, the same man, dressed in the same fashion, has been appearing in the background of photographs taken in public places.
- A politician, religious leader, or celebrity exerts mind control over the will of his or her followers.
- The fairy godmother isn’t the good kind of fairy.
I hope this list was useful! And if you want more inspiration, please check out my book Master Lists for Writers! It has plot ideas, lists of descriptions (to help you with “show don’t tell”), character traits, and more.
If you don’t want to miss future posts about writing, follow my blog, if you aren’t already — there’s a place you can sign up below. Happy writing!
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