The Most Unsettling Ghost Story Ideas (Updated in 2024)

ghost story ideas

Looking for enticing and creative ghost story ideas and writing prompts? You’ve come to the right place!

Read on for ideas like a ghost that haunts a starship, a woman who learns that she’s slated to be sacrificed in a twisted ritual to resurrect her dead parents, and many more!

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Ghost Story Ideas and Writing Prompts

Please note that the genders in these prompts and story ideas are just placeholders. It is not the intention to enforce any hurtful stereotypes or offend anyone.

Story ideas

Brace yourself as we embrace the chilling allure of ghostly narratives and ideas!

  1. Messages from Beyond

    A person discovers that their smartphone is haunted by the ghost of its previous owner. The ghost sends strange messages and makes strange phone calls that cause the protagonist to question their sanity.

  2. Love Beyond the Grave

    After her lover’s death, a grieving woman isolates herself. However, when she starts seeing him around the house again, she comes to realize that it was actually she who died in the tragic event. (Originally appear in my post Paranormal Romance Story Ideas and Writing Prompts.)

    ghost story ideas and writing prompts

  3. Phantom Crew

    Strange occurrences and malfunctions aboard starship Aurora suggest that the ship is haunted by the ghost of a former crew member. The question remains: does the ghost want to sabotage the mission, or save them from meeting the same fate as him?

  4. The Spectral Ship

    A budding writer visits a tranquil riverside town, where a ghost ship materializes on the river every quarter century or so. When the ship finally appears, he is shocked to discover a familiar figure on board. Based on Wyoming Death Ship urban legend. (For more urban legend inspired story ideas, head to my post Bone-Chilling Urban Legend Story Ideas and Writing Prompts.)

  5. Supernatural Scares

    This story could center around a ghost that haunts a theme park ride, causing it to malfunction and putting riders in danger. The protagonist could be a park employee or visitor who investigates the ghost’s origins and tries to put an end to the haunting.

  6. The Sacrificial Heir

    After her estranged parents pass away, a woman learns that is slated to be sacrificed in a twisted ritual to resurrect them from the dead. (Originally appeared on my post Dark and Eerie Gothic Story Ideas and Writing Prompts.)

  7. Whispering Tongue

    The protagonist discovers a manuscript written in a language that has been long forgotten. As they delve deeper into the mystery, they come to realize that the book is haunted by the ghost of the person who wrote it, who is desperate to have their language remembered.

  8. Ghostly Memories

    This story could involve a ghost that haunts a photograph or a series of photographs, causing strange things to happen to those who possess them. The protagonist could be a photographer or historian who investigates the ghost’s identity and tries to put an end to the haunting.

  9. Spectral Simulation

    This story could center around a person who becomes trapped in a virtual reality world that is haunted by the ghost of a former user. Or it could be that the trapped person slowly becomes a ghost that haunts incoming users.

  10. Echoes of Oblivion

    A remote ghost city becomes the epicenter of an eerie phenomenon as it mysteriously engulfs neighboring towns, leaving a trail of vanishing communities in its wake.

    ghost story ideas and writing prompts

  11. Snippets

    A few more out-of-the-box ideas, concepts and snippets:

    – A ghost that only appears in dreams, and can possess the living through their dreams.
    – A ghost that haunts a book, causing the words to change and shift over time.
    – A ghost that haunts a social media platform, influencing the behavior of its users.
    – A ghost that haunts a small town, but only appears during power outages.
    – A ghost that haunts a garden, causing the plants to grow in strange and eerie ways.
    – A ghost that haunts a song, causing anyone who hears it to become possessed by its melody.

Picture prompts

Here are some picture prompts, because a picture speaks a thousand words! What kind of ghost prompt or story jumps out at you when looking at the picture prompts below?

  1. Consider:

    In a tranquil garden, a lily pond plagues anyone who gazes into its depths by haunting visions and encounters with spirits trapped within the water’s grasp. The protagonist must uncover the origins of the curse and find a way to break it before becoming forever entwined in the pond’s spectral grip.

    (Please click on the image for more information about it.)

  2. Consider:

    In a realm between the living and the dead, the Night Parade takes place annually, a time when creatures of myth and spirits come together for a night of revelry and remembrance. The protagonist, an accidental attendee from the living world, is thrust into this surreal and haunting celebration and must find a way home before it’s too late.

    (Please click on the image for more information about it.)

  3. Consider:

    A group of friends gathers for a dinner party in a secluded mansion. As the night progresses, they realize they have become trapped in a time loop, forced to relive the same evening over and over again. Each iteration reveals more about the tragic events that occurred during a previous dinner party, leading to an unsolved mystery and a restless spirit seeking justice.

    (Please click on the image for more information about it.)

There’s Something about Ghosts…

Ghosts have been a source of fascination and fear for centuries, and continue to captivate our imaginations to this day. Whether you’re a writer looking to craft a spine-tingling tale or simply a lover of all things eerie, there’s no shortage of story ideas to explore.

What are ghosts, really?

A ghost is typically the spirit or soul of a deceased person that is believed to appear to the living. Ghosts are often associated with haunting, in which they are said to linger in a particular place or object and make their presence known through strange sounds, movements, or other supernatural phenomena.

The belief in ghosts is often tied to cultural and religious beliefs about the afterlife, and many people believe that ghosts are a manifestation of unresolved issues or unfinished business from the deceased person’s life. Ghosts are a common theme in folklore, literature, and popular culture, and they continue to fascinate and intrigue people around the world.

Famous stories featuring ghosts

Ghosts have been a popular theme in literature for centuries, and there are many famous stories that feature ghosts as central characters. Here are a few examples:

1. “The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde: This classic story tells the tale of a ghost who haunts an English manor house, but finds himself unable to scare the American family who moves in.

2. “The Sixth Sense” directed by M. Night Shyamalan: This 1999 film follows a young boy who can see and communicate with the ghosts of dead people. He is helped by a psychologist who is trying to uncover the truth about his own life.

3. “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare: This famous play features the ghost of Hamlet’s father, who appears to his son and urges him to seek revenge against his murderer.

These stories and many others have become classics of the ghost story genre, captivating readers and inspiring countless adaptations in film, television, and theater.


If you need more story ideas and prompts, please browse our Story Ideas & Writing Prompts Category!

Have any question or feedback? Feel free to contact me here. Until next time!

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