10 Sources of Inspiration for Your Next Horror Book

10 Sources of Inspiration for Your Next Horror Book

As a horror writer, you have to use your imagination to come up with ideas. Original horror story ideas are all around you – you just have to look at a person, a place, or an object in a different way and say, “What if ….?” 

Fears, nightmares, news headlines, stories you hear or a single visual can enter your mind and germinate. Here are ten sources of inspiration for your next horror novel. 

  1. Your own fears

Think about what scares you and why it scares you. What is it about smiling clowns and dolls that some people find so terrifying? Is it because they’re associated with innocence and laughter but you’ve heard too many stories about the darkness that lurks behind the pleasant exterior. If you explore some of your darkest fears, you can get the germ of an idea for a novel. 

Do you fear the loss of a loved one? At Horror Tree, you can read about the best Japanese horror books of all time, such as Parasite Eve, written by Hideaki Sena about Dr. Nagashima. He goes mad with grief when his wife dies in a car crash and he tries to reincarnate her in a medical experiment that goes horribly wrong.

  1. Encounters with people

Thomas Harris came up with the idea for Hannibal Lector, one of the most terrifying villains in horror literature, from a meeting with a real-life murderous surgeon. The man was known for cutting his victims into small pieces and putting them in boxes.

According to dissertation help writers, many other horror writers like Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Ann Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz were also inspired by real-life encounters. Stephen King’s protagonist, in his novel Carrie, is a composite of two characters from his childhood – a class scapegoat and a girl from a very religious family. 

  1. Real places 

Photo by m wrona on Unsplash

Stephen King’s novel The Shining was inspired by staying as a guest in a nearly empty Colorado Hotel with long corridors. He couldn’t help thinking, “What if somebody died here?” Knowing the history behind any building may conjure up some terrifying ideas.

Writers for assignment help online say that you should find out about the dark side behind places like an amusement park, a local high school, a historic hotel or a stately old country house and you may be surprised about how much material you can unearth.  

  1. Real-life events

Watching the daily news exposes you constantly to the horror that exists in the real world. The most violent and disturbing stories often receive the most coverage. The bizarre murder of a whole family by an axe-wielding son could be a rich source of the material. If you do a Google search for “horror stories in the news,” you are bound to come up with some interesting ideas.

  1. Ancient mythology

Most ancient mythology is filled with demons, monsters, ghosts, and shapeshifters. The Greeks, Romans and Egyptians were telling horror stories long before horror books were printed. It’s worth picking up a book on ancient mythology to get your creative juices flowing.

When you read about creatures like Minotaurs, Gorgons and Hydras, it may set off all kinds of ideas in your brain. The Japanese also have some amazing myths about supernatural creatures and vengeful ghosts to inspire you. 

  1. Ordinary objects

Sometimes the scariest stories are written about everyday objects. All kinds of objects such as a rocking horse, a mirror, a book or a car can become terrifying when they are haunted, cursed or possessed. When ordinary objects turn out to be anything but ordinary, it upsets people’s preconceptions and intrigues them. 

  1. Dreams and Nightmares

Your own dreams and nightmares can be a rich source of inspiration. Your nightmares often combine people, places and objects in unusual and horrifying ways. Learn how to do this in your horror novel. When Stephanie Meyer dreamed about an average girl speaking to a sparkly, fantastically beautiful vampire, it was the seed for her Twilight novel.

  1. Religious beliefs

The major religions of the world are full of horrifying stories. The Old Testament of the Bible has some particularly brutal stories of people being stoned to death, burned alive or beheaded. It is all about contrast and presenting evil to showcase good. Some truly evil horror stories relate to possession, exorcisms, and other religious happenings. 

  1. Current research

Keeping up to date with research can give you inspiration for your horror novel. Subjects like metaphysics, telekinesis, psychology, parapsychology, medicine and genetics can provide rich fodder.

Perhaps you get an idea from a telekinesis experiment or some of the latest genetic research about cloning. Ideas from current research can provide a plot for a horror novel and help you to come up with the characters and setting.

  1. Horror novelists

The lives of horror novelists are a source of inspiration for any aspiring horror writer. Subscribe to their blogs, read and watch interviews and follow them on social media. When you start to understand their writing process, it will help you to write better. There is often useful information in a writer’s biography. 


Make sure you have a notebook, app or some other way to record your inspiration from all the above sources. You never know when you may read, see or hear something that will turn into an idea for a harrowing story. When horror is grounded in your reality and embodies your own psychological fears, it will feel more real to your readers.


Author Bio:

Leon Collier is a blogger and academic writer from the UK who works with SuperiorPapers and Top British Essays. He has done several top-rated paper writing service reviews and likes trying new subjects that can test the best of him. His focus is on providing quality work that checks all boxes in terms of writing standards. His hobbies include reading books and playing tabletop games with his buddies. You can get in touch with him via Twitter @LeonCollier12. 

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2 Responses

  1. jamiecroftdc says:

    The article was nice and had a lot of depth, and your blog is awesome too—it helps a lot of people because of how effectively you present complex ideas.

  2. David says:

    The lives of horror novelists are a source of inspiration for any aspiring horror writer. Subscribe to their blogs, read and watch interviews and follow them on social media. Slope Unblocked