Writing a horror screenplay is unlike writing any other genre of a screenplay. Crafting a horror screenplay is a unique process that goes beyond just telling a story (and into the supernatural). The genre taps into our primal instinct – Fear. Triggering this emotion leads to a rush of adrenaline which we as an audience love and come back, craving for more!
Writing a horror screenplay is a little trickier as they require a carefully constructed story with characters and an eerie atmosphere with multiple scares punctuated within the story. Knowing which types of scares work and the specific build-up required for them takes experience.
Pro Tip: Try bouncing your concepts off of your friends and peers and observing their reactions. While this could work for any genre, it is especially applicable for your horror ideas since you are trying to tap into a very personal and emotional subject.
Through this article, we will give you expert horror writing prompts which will surely help set a spine chilling atmosphere along with dialogue prompts which will add spice to your scenes and make your audience hide behind their hands!
Horror Writing Prompts
Here is a lowdown on what scenes work when writing horror screenplays. Use them to give direction to your writing and let your ‘horrific’ mind take over.
- A boy wakes up to find a little girl sitting on his bed, claiming to be his younger sister — but he never had one
- Something has turned the neighborhood pets into demonic killers.
- An astronaut is the sole survivor of a planet landing gone wrong — only to discover that the planet is infested with strange creatures.
- Tourists in Greenland retreat to an old castle when the country is taken over by mutant scorpions from a laboratory experiment gone wrong.
- A pumpkin patch comes alive — beings with heads of pumpkins and bodies of vines.
- An old woman suddenly begins to wake up in somebody else’s body every morning — each day ends with her being stocked and killed by the same murderer in black.
- The reflections that we see of ourselves in the mirror are actually us in a parallel universe — and they are planning to do whatever it takes to take our place in this world.
- An Artificial Intelligence begins to communicate with a family online, only to terrorize them through their technology.
- Years after the zombie apocalypse subsides, survivors discover that the epidemic was caused by aliens that have appeared to lay claim to the planet.
- A woman jogging stumbles upon a dead, bloody body — she then hears a strange clicking sound and looks up to see a dark figure running towards her.
- A girl has a tumor that slowly grows into a Siamese twin — the older they get, the eviler the twin becomes.
- A group of teens decides to spend the weekend at the site of a haunted urban legend. During their visit, they begin to realize the legend actually describes the exact events of their weekend blurring truth & legend.
- People in a neighborhood begin having freak accidents that involve normal appliances and machinery, such as blenders, weed whackers, and garage doors.
- A young woman is impregnated by her handsome new boyfriend, who turns out to be something other than human.
- 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 young man confesses to a killing that hasn’t happened. The murder he describes takes place while he’s in custody.
- A real estate developer purchases a defunct insane asylum. But everyone that enters the new bed and breakfast begins to go mad, prompting the question was it the people who brought madness to the asylum or vice versa.
- An undercover police officer is tasked with infiltrating a fringe demonic cult suspected of kidnapping a child. As he lives among them, he participates in rituals that are meant to bring about tragic events. Suddenly he realizes they’re actually happening to friends and family in the town.
- The man leans into you. There is a dark red almost black color to the whites of his eyes. He is so close his nose is almost touching your nose. You can feel his breath when he says, “We all have it in here. We are all infected.
- You are frozen with fear. You open your eyes; the tent is dark. But you can feel the heavyweight of a large tarantula covering one eye. Through the other eye, you can see the shadows, from the moonlight, of 100s if not 1000s of other spiders covering the tent.
Having found the plot or set a scene for your frightening screenplay. Now is the time to build suspense and create tension through the use of dialogues. As a thumb rule, horror screenplays usually have more action than dialogue. The point is to show the audience what the characters are scared of instead of telling them. Hence, the limited use of dialogue to showcase a character’s oblivion, mislead the audience or to provide a comedic relief is essential.
We have given below is a list of dialogue prompts that immediately strikes fear into the hearts of viewers or creates instant unease. Because while seeing a ghost or hearing a bump in the night can be scary, nothing is as terrifying as hearing the fear, or the evil, in another person’s voice.
- “You cannot kill me, darling, I am already dead”
- “I see things other children do not see”
- “I have a secret, but I cannot tell you or that thing wearing mommy’s skin will get mad”
- “Her voice brought back memories of dark rooms and broken bones”
- “He is merely a human”
- “You seem scared, mortal!”
- “All that blood looks good on you, really, it brings out your eyes”
- “I know everything there is to know about you, I have seen you every day since you have existed”
- “On a scale from one to Australia, how scary are we talking?”
- “It was odd to see a girl smiling…smiling with blood on the walls behind her”
- “They never stood a chance”
- “It will end us all, one scream at a time”
- “You made a deal with the devil, what did you expect?”
- “I cannot believe you think I am just a plain old boring ghost”
- “I like your face; it would make a great souvenir”
- “You are one of them now”
- “Why can I not see your eyeballs?”
- “Sick? I am not sick. I am twisted. Sick makes it sound like I can be cured”
- “I hear the voices again and this time, it is not in my head!”
- “She seems awfully alive for a girl buried just yesterday!”