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5 Great Short Story Websites You Can Read for Free

You might wonder why anyone would bother building or talking about short story websites these days.

I mean, here in 2019, there is no shortage of options when it comes to satisfying your hunger as a reader.

Most everybody has access to an eReader of one sort or another, whether it’s a physical Kindle or Nook, or the app versions of those readers that run on your phone or tablet (or even your PC).

And if you’re part of the eReader resistance, you can still buy physical books at outfits like Barnes & Nobles and Half-Price Books, or you can order them from Amazon or other online retailers.

Heck, if you’re really adventurous or cantankerous, you can even visit your local library. Imagine!

But as great as all those sources are, they’re not the whole ball of wax, especially if you’re a fan of short stories, like I am.

No matter how many epic novels you gorge yourself on how many series of smaller novels you binge read, there are certain things they won’t give you, but that short stories will.

For instance, short stories let you …

  • Read a complete tale in just a few minutes
  • Sample lots of authors in a short period of time
  • Visit lots of worlds in a short period of time
  • Move on if you don’t like a story, without losing a huge investment of time
  • Stoke your imagination and leave you wondering … what next?
  • Delight you with unexpected twists
  • Leave you breathless with rapid-fire action and epic, flourishing endings

And a lot more, too.

But there are so many short stories out there, it’s sometimes hard to pick out the ones you would really want to read from the ones that you would consider just noise.

And that’s where short story websites come in.

They curate a certain type or quality of short story and serve them up to you on the regular. The ones I talk about below do it all for free, too.

The hope is that you’ll find an author or two you like and become lifetime devotees of those writers and the websites who feature them.

That’s certainly been the case for me with these great short story websites — they’ve become part of my home on the web, and I hope you’ll love them as much as I do. So, let’s dig in, sit a spell, and read some wonderful short stories.

(And check back here, as I’ll be adding to the list over time.)

Rope and Wire

Rope and Wire is my go-to site when I’m in the mood for a western, which is pretty often.

Here you’ll find an array of short stories from around 50 different western authors and covering just about every angle of the genre you could imagine.

Rope and Wire puts up new stories on a regular basis and keeps a running “scoreboard” of the most popular tales each month.

If you long for the open range, you really need to check out this site.

(Full disclosure: one of my short stories is published on Rope and Wire.)

Flash Fiction Online

If you’re into tight prose that packs a mighty punch in a small package, you’re probably already a fan of flash fiction. But just in case you’re not familiar with this form of short story, a flash fiction narrative typically checks in at fewer than 1000 words but still tells a complete tale.

As a writer, it’s a challenging way to tell a story.

As a reader, it’s a delightful way to tweak your literary mind in almost no time at all.

Flash Fiction Online produces a monthly magazine, which you can buy in electronic form. It’s worth the 99 cents, but …

FFO also makes many of their stories available on their website for free. These tales span a wide variety of genres, and you’re sure to find several that fit your tastes.

Visit Flash Fiction Online here.

CreepyPasta

Creepypasta is one of my guilty reading pleasures in general, and CreepyPasta,com is the place I most often go to satisfy my dark cravings.

For the uninitiated, creepypasta is basically a genre of horror stories that originate and proliferate on the internet. The name comes from “copypasta,” a term that denotes the common web practice of copy-and-pasting text or pictures from one source to another.

It’s basically the way stuff becomes “viral.”

Add some dark short stories to the formula and you have “creepypasta.”

At CreepyPasta.com, you’ll find a frenzied variety of scary stories, posted at the rate of one or more per day. The site allows readers to rate each story, so you’ll have an idea about the quality of a piece by its overall score.

Be aware that some of the stories on CreepyPasta.com are a little rough, not necessarily family-friendly or safe for work. If you can put your squeamishness aside in the name of some spine-tingling tales, though, you can visit CreepyPasta.com here.

Daily Science Fiction

If you like science fiction, and especially short science fiction, then you pretty much have to read Daily Science Fiction on a regular basis.

Like Flash Fiction Online, this website focuses on really short stories — 100 to 1500 words, according to their submission guidelines. However, they also publish “flash series” of short stories that each stand on their own but that connect to each other in some way.

If you don’t want to visit the Daily Science Fiction site every day, you can also sign up to have the new stories delivered to your email address.

Either way, this is a great place to find prolific sci-fi output in the tradition of Asimov.

Check out Daily Science Fiction here.

AmericanLiterature.com

AmericanLiterature.com has been around for almost 13 years now, an eternity for a website.

There’s a good reason for its longevity, too — it presents some of the greatest stories ever penned by American authors (and some with Old World origins).

From children’s tales like The Velveteen Rabbit to poems by Robert Frost and Robert Burns to a collection of short stories from O. Henry, just about every literary taste has a home at AmericanLiterature.com.

The only downsides I can see are that the site is not as focused as some of the more genre-specific entries on this list and that the stories have been around for ages.

But if you want classic stories, websites don’t come much better than this one.