Looking for chilling urban legend story ideas and writing prompts? Two feuding parents using an urban legend to cover up their child’s death. An author surveying a ghost ship and discovering a terrifying secret from his past. These are just a few prompts you’ll find below!
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The Definition of Urban Legend
Urban legends refer to widely circulated stories or false claims presented as factual, usually involving something happening to a “friend of a friend” or a family member, and typically offer cautionary advice or warnings.
An urban legend’s narrator may say that the story occurred to a friend (or a friend of a friend), which serves to personalize, authenticate, and increase the narrative’s impact while separating the speaker from the tall tale. Many urban legends describe heinous murders, poisoned goods, or other scenarios that may affect a large number of people.
These stories can be fascinating, but they frequently involve unexpected dangers or frightening events, such as mysterious disappearances and strange artifacts or creatures. Urban legends can be used to reaffirm moral standards, reflect biases, or make sense of societal anxieties.
Why are We Fascinated by Urban Legends?
Urban legends help us make sense of the world and deal with our fears in a secure environment. Passing on amusing and seemingly important information in the form of urban legends makes individuals feel useful and helps strengthen social bonds.
Urban legends in the past were mostly communicated verbally. However, with modern means of communication, urban legends spread even faster and endlessly in modern culture.
Furthermore, as time goes by, the details in urban legends always evolve to maintain relevance, coherence, and importance in the current setting.
Urban Legend Story Ideas
Without further ado, below are some urban legend story ideas that will keep your readers or audience on the edges of their seats.
Please note that the genders in these prompts are just placeholders and do not mean to enforce any hurtful stereotypes nor offend anyone.
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Urban Legend Prompts: Crime
Due to its sinister nature, urban legends are naturally closely related to crimes. Here are some crime-related urban legend writing prompts.
(For more crime-flavored prompts please head to 10 Crime Thriller Story Ideas that Captivate Us!)
1. A clairvoyant gaslights and manipulates a budding artist who has an unnatural fear of the 27 Club, an urban legend that claims there’s a spike of artists and celebrities who die at the age of 27.
2. After two feuding parents cause the accidental death of their young child, they try to cover up the incident by planting false evidence about malevolent strangers intentionally poisoning the Halloween candies distributed to the children in the area.
3. When an affair between a man and his child’s nanny goes south, the bitter nanny plots a revenge by harming the child. (Based on the Baby Roast, an urban legend in which a babysitter microwaves a baby alive.)
Urban Legend Prompts: Horror
While the previous category focuses more on the crime aspect, this category focuses more on eliciting fear and/or disgust from the audience. Here are some horror-related urban legend writing prompts.
(For similar prompts, please head to 14 Deep Dark Fantasy Ideas!)
1. A skeptic ignores a chain letter, which triggers a chain of horrific mishaps that starts to happen to them.
2. A tired mom has to leave her children at home in order to obtain a medicine for a sick kid. However, on her way home, she must attempt to outsmart a serial car thief who hides under victims’ cars and render their victims helpless by slashing their ankles. (Based on ankle slicing car thief urban legend.)
3. Five strangers answer an advertisement for a Russian Sleep Experiment, in which subjects have to stay in a gas chamber with stimulants to keep them awake for 30 consecutive days. However, as the test subjects spend a period of time together, it becomes clear that some of them have secret connections to one another that might affect the experiment.
4. When gamers across the nation are found dead after playing a video game known to cause harmful effects such as nightmares and suicidal thoughts, a detective suspecting a foul play attempts to find a logical red string connecting the incidents, but soon she begins to experience the same effects. (Based on Polybius urban legend.)
Urban Legend Prompts: Paranormal
This category focuses more on incidents that have unexplainable or supernatural/paranormal causes, blending genres of fantasy, sci-fi and horror. Here are some paranormal-related urban legend writing prompts.
(For similar prompts please head to 12 Thrilling Paranormal Romance Writing Prompts!)
1. A heartbroken woman becomes the Santa Compaña, the living leader of the procession of the dead. Compelled by a supernatural force, she goes into trance every night and wanders around with no recollection of it the following day. Complication ensues when the woman’s ex-lover is found dead, and all fingers are pointing to her.
2. The newest maid in an affluent household discovers the horrifying truth that due to a freak spider bite accident, her mistress’ body is now the living host of a rare kind of spider that always seeks fresh food for its broods, which explains why the maid turnover is through the roof. Based on The Spider Bite urban legend.
3. An aspiring author travels to a sleepy riverside town, in which a ghost ship appears on the river every 25 years or so. When the ship eventually manifests itself, he doesn’t expect to see a familiar sight on board. Based on Wyoming Death Ship urban legend.
Here are some picture-based urban legend story prompts, because, a picture speaks a thousand words! Below are some image prompts as well as some prompt ideas to accompany each.
(Please click on the image for more information.)
1. Taking a road trip together during Halloween, four friends stop by Stull Cemetery, Kansas, said to be the gateway to Hell that open to the other side solely during Halloween. The twist is, one of the friends set the others up to be sacrificed to an enigmatic entity on the other side of the gate once it opens up.
2. While going on a road trip across America, a pair of newlyweds who struggle with fertility issue start to hear the sound of babies crying. Based on the Water Babies of Massacre Rock urban legend.
(Please click on the image for more information.)
1. A group of lost hikers decide to set up tents overnight in a clearing, oblivious to the fact that it’s the Devil’s Tramping Ground. While they sleep, horrors begin to lace their dreams, and the line between dream and reality start to get blurred.
2. A bickering couple on a trip to the ruins of Aztec isn’t aware that while they bicker and fight, they’re disrupting the wildlife around them. Unbeknownst to them, Chaneques, underworld entities who are the caretakers of the mountains and wild animals, is watching them and ready to strike to restore the balance in the nature.
There they are, 14 chilling urban legend writing prompts that hopefully will get your inspiration going!
Other posts that you might find interesting:
- Dramatic Survival Story Ideas & Prompts
- Thrilling Pirate Writing Prompts & Story Ideas
- Or browse our Story Ideas & Writing Prompts category for more ideas!
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