Ghosts and the paranormal provide a bottomless source of inspiration for writers. Ghost stories have existed since the dawn of humanity in some form or another, and are still a favorite for modern storytellers. If you want to write about ghosts but you’re running low on ideas, checking out some writing prompts can give you the inspiration you need!
Whether you just want to warm up, or you’re looking to find something to spark your next big project, you’ll find many ideas here to get you started!
Short Writing Prompts About Ghosts
- Your character is a ghost who is stuck haunting something mundane (like a teapot, old cupboard, pair of scissors, eraser, vase, etc). How would you tell this story in an interesting way? What is the unexpected significance of the mundane object? What does it mean to the character?
- You never believed in ghosts. You’re in denial, even after you become one yourself.
- A realtor is trying to sell a very obviously haunted house, but the ghost haunting it keeps scaring off potential buyers.
- You can see ghosts, and they’re everywhere—and often very annoying.
- Describe a haunted house in detail. Is it an old house, or a new house? What elements betray the house’s haunted nature? How can you create an eerie atmosphere by only describing what the house looks like, and not by what haunted things occur there?
- There’s a ghost haunting your character’s laptop. They can browse the web, upload to social media, and even chat with the character by typing into a word processor. Does this ghost torment the character by ruining their online reputation? Does the ghost help them get dates by going through dating sites for them? Does the ghost do their online homework for them? Are they friends? Explore this dynamic.
- You’re a ghost, and you delight in scaring the amateur paranormal investigators who come to try to communicate with you.
- You can talk to ghosts, and they give you all the hottest gossip on your neighbors, since they roam the neighborhood.
- Write an argument between two characters. One believes in ghosts wholeheartedly, while the other one doesn’t believe in ghosts at all. Try to make both characters sound passionate and reasonable.
- Your character is being haunted by several old ghosts. Since the ghosts died before many electronic devices were invented, they don’t know what a phone, a microwave, or maybe even electric lights are. As a result, these curious ghosts are constantly pushing buttons, turning lights on and off, and overall just messing around with all the technology in the house.
- There are two ghosts living in your character’s house: one recently passed away and is still getting used to being a ghost, while the other is several centuries old. Your character often has to listen to them arguing about just about everything, from culture and politics to food and decor.
- A person can only gain the ability to communicate with ghosts if they have had a near-death experience. Describe an experienced ghost hunter’s past and how they developed their ability.
- You find out your best friend is just a bored demon, and has been this whole time.
- Your pet has grown up with you and has gotten you through a lot of hard times. When the pet passes away, it never truly leaves, and instead continues to watch over you from the afterlife.
- Write a backstory for a ghost. Where does the ghost stay? Why are they stuck there? When did they die? Did they die a violent death? Are there other ghosts with them? What are the relationships between the ghosts? How is their story similar to, and different from, other traditional ghost stories?
- You don’t know it but you are, in fact, a ghost. One day, you meet someone who tries to convince you that you’re dead. Utilize an unreliable narrator to tell this story.
If you need help writing an unreliable narrator, check out my other post: What is an Unreliable Narrator? (And How to Write One!)
Ghost Story Writing Prompts
- There is a ghost attached to a high-schooler, but they can only communicate with them using mirrors. The ghost can either appear behind the character’s reflection, or they can become the character’s reflection. This old ghost then often finds themself giving life advice to this teen about navigating high school, figuring themself out, and planning for the future—along with other classic teen drama scenarios.
- A complete skeptic gets haunted. They are adamant about ignoring the ghost and its antics, brushing off even the most obvious paranormal signs. It’s not that they can’t see the books flying off the shelves or the locked doors suddenly swinging open, they just don’t believe a ghost is behind it, and instead cite earthquakes, the wind, the old house, neighbors, and anything else they can think of. This is really frustrating for the ghost haunting them.
- You and your buddy are professional ghost hunters. You two go into a job thinking it’ll be easy money, and you are the only one to leave alive. On top of that, you’re now the lead suspect in the investigation into their death. Only you know that your partner was killed by an evil spirit, but you don’t know how to prove that to the authorities, and frustratingly, the spirit isn’t active when the police are around—almost like it’s trying to get you in trouble.
- Your grandfather, who you really didn’t visit as often as you should have, unexpectedly passes away, and he leaves you a box of his old belongings. You expect it to be filled with old records or sentimental objects, but instead, it’s filled to the brim with ghost hunting equipment. There is also a letter written by your grandfather, requesting that you try to contact him from beyond the grave.
- Your character tragically lost their child in an accident, but ever since, the child’s ghost has been hanging around their house. The character is overjoyed that they can still spend time with their child, and things are okay for a little while. However, more ominous things begin to happen, and the character starts to question if this kid really is the child they lost. Demons have been known to disguise themselves as children, after all…
- You’re haunted by a ghost who can’t move on—but they can’t remember why. You embark on a quest to discover who this ghost is, and what could possibly be keeping them tethered to the mortal realm.
- A small child has an invisible friend. Their parents encourage this and don’t think much of it, but this “friend” is actually the ghost of a young boy who is trying to get the child killed so he will have company in the afterlife. He is never successful, however, as all his plans are comically foiled one way or another.
- You’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal, so despite everyone’s warnings, you decide to meddle in occult practices. It starts simple enough, with a clumsy séance or two, but when you can’t make contact with anything, you seek out increasingly haunted locations. After a while, you admit defeat, but soon meet someone who claims that you’re being followed by several spirits—you just can’t tell. It turns out, there really are people who can see spirits, you just aren’t one of them. You team up with this new friend to learn the stories of the ghosts that have attached themselves to you.
- There are legends of a ghost ship sailing around in the seas of a small town. What most people don’t know, however, is that this ghost ship isn’t a pirate ship—it’s a luxury cruiseliner.
- There is only one house that isn’t abandoned in the old culdesac at the edge of town. In it lives a little six-year-old girl, by herself. At least, that’s what the rumors are. They don’t see any adults coming in or out of the home, and no one sees her off to school in the mornings or steps out to welcome her home in the afternoons. Occasionally, someone will see an adult move past a window, so the police have never been called to investigate this rumor. What no one in the neighborhood knows, however, is that the girl’s parents have been dead for a while, and continue to care for her as ghosts.
- You were at the peak of your life when you died. You had a good job, you were about to get married, and you had just signed the lease on a new house. Things were really starting to look up for you, so it’s understandable that you weren’t able to pass on after your unexpected death. Your fiance moves into the house alone and grieves you for quite a long time. However, it doesn’t last forever. Eventually, they find someone else, get married, and have kids. They move on, and you are stuck watching them build their life without you.
- Tragedy has followed you all your life. You decide to visit a psychic to have your fortune told. They inform you that your misfortune is due to a generations-long curse that was bestowed upon your family. You embark on a mission to finally break the curse using whatever means necessary, no matter the risk. Whether or not the curse is real, the character believes in it wholeheartedly.
Writing About Ghosts
When you write about ghosts, you have a vast network of cultural and spiritual resources at your disposal. There’s a huge variety of ghosts that you can draw inspiration from, such as banshees, poltergeists, and mylingar, but you can also draw from existing stories about well-known ghosts in media, such as Bloody Mary, The Headless Horseman, and many others.
Humans have an inherent curiosity about the unknown, particularly in reference to death and the possibility of some form of afterlife. Stories about ghosts have been popular for so long because they satisfy some of that morbid curiosity, while also often making a subtle commentary about what it means to be alive.
If you’re having a hard time writing ghost origin stories, check out A Guide to Killing Your Characters. It might help you out!
Good luck, and have fun!