25+ Ghost Story Prompts

Need a scary ghost story to tell over the campfire? Today we bring over 25 ghost story prompts to inspire you to write your own paranormal short story or novel.

A ghost story is a type of horror story that emphasises the theme of the supernatural, apparitions, and otherworldly ghost-like creatures. Generally revolving around death, hauntings or the afterlife. This genre often has an uncanny air about it, producing feelings of fear, dread, and the unfamiliar. A ghost story is one of the oldest forms of literature and can be found in all cultures.

If you’re looking for some new ideas for your next ghost story, these 25+ paranormal story prompts are perfect for writers of all levels. You might also find this ghost name generator useful.

25+ Ghost Story Prompts

The spookiest time of year is here, and that means it’s time for ghost stories! Whether you’re writing a ghost story for Halloween, a seasonal short story, or even a standalone novel, these ghost story prompts are a great place to start:

  1. A young woman moves into an old house and finds herself in a terrifying situation with her new roommate, a ghost. The only way to escape is to get out of the house alive.
  2. A man is haunted by his past and must face the demons that come back to haunt him.
  3. A group of college students decide to spend their summer vacation in a cabin in the woods. But what starts as a fun vacation turns deadly when they realize that the woods aren’t quite as safe as they thought.
  4. Use this story starter for a ghost story: The first time I saw it, I was only six. It was night and I was playing in my granddad’s garden when I heard this weird sound coming from the forest. I followed the sound and found myself in the middle of a circle of tall trees. It was so dark that I could barely see my hands in front of me. Suddenly, something grabbed my leg.
  5. A woman is haunted by the ghosts of her ancestors, but she must learn to accept her fate and embrace the spirits before they are all gone forever.
  6. An orphaned boy is taken in by a family of ghosts after his parents die in a fire. They teach him how to use his supernatural abilities to help people in need. But soon the boy starts using these powers for evil.
  7. A group of teenagers visit their favourite haunted house during the Halloween season, but they never make it home again.
  8. A couple gets married on Halloween night and discovers that their marriage is cursed. They must solve the mystery of the ghost bride to break the curse.
  9. A boy finds a box of his grandfather’s old slides in the attic, and when he goes back to school, he starts seeing his grandfather’s ghost everywhere.
  10. A man hears strange sounds coming from his attic, and he’s determined to find out what they are. He sneaks up to the attic to investigate, but when he does, he stumbles upon something much more frightening than he could have imagined.
  11. An abandoned mansion on a lonely island is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a pirate who was hung for his crimes. A group of friends decide to spend the night in the mansion, and they quickly learn that there’s more than one kind of ghost in the house.
  12. A family moves back into their old family home where their son died years ago. The father becomes obsessed with finding out who killed his son. He believes he knows who the murderer is but no one will believe him.
  13. A man is tormented by a ghostly hitchhiker. He is forced to take them on a road trip until they reach their final destination…a mysterious abandoned town.
  14. A family moves into an old Victorian home, where the previous owner mysteriously disappeared after getting locked in one of the rooms. Now the family is trapped inside by a malevolent entity.
  15. A man is on his way home from work when he is attacked by a group of ghosts. He manages to escape, but now he has a few more problems than he started with.
  16. Use this story starter for a ghost story: I woke up in the middle of the night, and I felt a cold hand touching my face. I tried to scream, but my voice wouldn’t come out. Then, I felt a sharp pain in my neck.
  17. My father told me about his experience while we were driving home. He said he saw a dead girl walking towards him just after I was born, but when he got closer, she disappeared. He thought if was imagining things at the time.
  18. My father used to scare me at night. One time he came into my bedroom and woke me up, telling me to come downstairs. He took me to the living room, and there he told me that a ghost had put a curse on me.
  19. It was the most beautiful cemetery ever. People would come from far away just to walk through the grounds. There was a rumour about a ghost that roamed the graveyard at night.
  20. A teenage girl is forced to spend her summer with her grandmother who believes she can communicate with ghosts.
  21. A young woman moves into an apartment next door to an old house where she hears a woman screaming and sees a little girl standing in the window.
  22. A woman hears a baby crying in her house, but she can’t find it. She keeps hearing it crying in another room, so she goes to check on it. When she opens the door, there is no baby there. But then, the door slams shut and locks itself.
  23. A girl is staying at her grandmother’s house with her family for the night. She is sleeping in her grandmother’s bed, but she can’t get comfortable. Every time she falls asleep, she wakes up to see her dead grandmother sitting on the edge of her bed.
  24. A woman is walking down a deserted road when she sees a figure standing in front of her. It turns out to be an old man in a top hat, holding a cane. He says to her, “Hello, young lady. My name is John Marley. I am a spirit from the other side.”
  25. One night, a mother wakes up to hear her son crying in their room. When she goes into his room, he is not there. She looks everywhere for him and calls out his name. The only answer she gets is a terrible scream that echoes throughout the house.
  26. In a small village, there lived a woman who was very lonely. Her husband had passed away and she was left all alone with her two sons. The boys were grown and had families of their own. The woman was so lonely that she began talking to herself. “I’m all alone,” she said to no one in particular. “I’m all alone.” And then she hears a voice.
  27. There was once a man who lived by the beach. He loved the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. One day, he decided to go for a walk on the beach and ended up drowning. When he died, he came back as a ghost. Every night, he would come back to the place where he drowned, and stand there.
  28. There was once a little girl who loved to play hide and seek. One day, while playing, she got separated from her family. She found a tree stump and went behind it, but when she peeked around the edge, she saw that no one was there. The stump began to move, and suddenly the girl felt herself being lifted off the ground and into the air. As she looked at the tree stump, she noticed that it had eyes. The eyes were staring right at her. Then, before she could scream, the tree stump opened its mouth.

For more spooky ideas, check out this list of over 110 horror story ideas.

How do you write a ghost story?

The basic structure of a ghost story includes an opening sequence that presents the reader with a situation that seems normal but is actually supernatural in nature. The protagonist then encounters the ghost and experiences events that are often strange and frightening, leading up to a climax where the ghost is defeated or disappears. Writing a ghost story is the same as writing a horror story. Before you start writing you need a good ghost story plot idea, like the list above. Both ghost stories and horror stories have a set of characters, a spooky setting, an opening, a middle part and a dramatic ending. 

What is the shortest ghost story?

The shortest ghost story is just two sentences long. It was written by Frederic Brown in 1948. The story reads: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door …” Just by reading these two sentences, we can imagine a scary situation. There are two key themes used here, the fear of loneliness and the surprise element at the end. Both these are important themes in ghost stories.

What makes a ghost story scary?

Ghost stories are typically scary as they focus on death and going into the unknown. But the key to a scary ghost story is fear. It is important to make the reader feel uneasy or frightened. Here are some key elements of a good ghost story:

  • An encounter with a ghost or spirit
  • A supernatural force that can be both good and evil
  • Sense of dread
  • The feeling of being watched or followed
  • Feeling helpless
  • Being lonely or lost

Just like all stories, a ghost story must include these basic elements of a story: Characters, Setting, Plot, Conflict and Resolution.

How do you finish a ghost story?

Most ghost stories end with the haunting being explained away as something natural. This explanation can be a spiritual one (the ghost was a real person who died), or it can be a psychological one (the ghost was a product of the protagonist’s mind). The ghost story can also end with no explanation at all. Some ghost stories don’t even bother to give an explanation for the haunting, but let the reader figure it out themselves.

Did you find this list of over 25 ghost story prompts useful? Let us know in the comments below! 

ghost story prompts

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