21 Best Places to Read and Write Short Stories Online

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With short stories, there are plenty to choose from in all genres with interesting and captivating characters. All the while, it will only take you a few minutes to even less than an hour. That’s nothing but good use of your time!

All you need is a quick search and a few clicks, and you can easily read short stories while hustling and even share some of your own on-the-go. Make your day worthwhile with as many stories as you want!

Whether you’re a reader or a short story writer, these websites are perfect for you!

Publish to Platforms

For ease in self-publishing and a supportive literary community, online publishing platforms are answers to the needs of every reader and writer. There is an unlimited array of short stories to discover and explore as well as a boundless means of sharing your own and building an audience.
By publishing to platforms, you add to the growing diversity of contemporary readers and writers.

Commaful

Commaful creates a unique storytelling experience for writers and readers through the picture book format. As the lead in multimedia storytelling, they host a wide selection of flash fiction, such as short stories and poetry, that is complemented by a visual element. Writers can attach their own images, from dramatic shots to comedic memes, with bite-sized texts that build excitement and suspense.
There’s a challenge in this playful storytelling format that you can try out! Truly like a picture book, readers tap to flip the page; it’s perfect to read for short attention spans or on the go through their mobile app. Discover short stories such as “I Can’t Believe You’re Mine” that are not only fun but also incredibly immersive.

Wattpad

Wattpad networks readers, writers, and the media industry through the entertainment of stories. Literally. It works as a publishing platform for 80 million and more users and of course, with a larger variety of stories to discover in all types.
There’s no place to get bored with Wattpad especially with their mobile app that lets you read your short stories anytime and post your own anywhere. Wattpad encourages up and coming writers through contests, awards, and opportunities such as publishing contracts and even movie deals. Explore short stories from all over the world or build your writing voice. Wattpad is there for you.

Archive of our Own

Most known as AO3, Archive of our Own celebrates fandom culture through their vast selection of fanfiction. They consider their original content as transformative works and any reader and writer belonging to a fandom knows how well and true that is.
With over a million users and 50 million pageviews a month, AO3 becomes an important part of a fandom. Readers and writers can quickly look up their favorite books, movies, and anything pop culture through the categories and filter their interests with the tagging system and other options. The comment and kudos (as in “I love this!”) features let fans actively and directly interact with one another and share their appreciation for stories.
Publishing works itself is very flexible, from multi-chapter stories to simple but impactful one-shots. Short story writers can drabble as much they want then compile them into collections. Whether you’ve been in a fandom for a long time or a new, interested fan, AO3 has stories for you to explore and grow your love.

Asianfanfics

Asianfanfics, shortened to AFF, is home to a global community with an appreciation for fandoms, Asian culture, and everything in between. They have a growing collection of original works within the hundreds of thousands of tags that readers can narrow down through ratings and length filters.
Short stories, for one, fall under its own tick box as “One shots only”; plus, you can freely choose word count by typing in your own range. With this, AFF becomes flexible for readers of any type and fandom, even more with their mobile app (available for iOS and Android) that offers an offline reading mode.
AFF also makes use of a Karma system for its readers and writers. They earn points and rewards by leaving constructive and appreciative comments or by receiving votes and subscriptions to their posted stories. AFF literally facilitates a positive and welcoming community that enjoys Asian fanfiction and pop culture.

RoyalRoad

RoyalRoad is known for its very active and welcoming community. As an online publishing site, they cater to a variety of genres and a diverse selection of original works. Writers are allowed to cross-post among different platforms that give them the freedom to build a readership. Not that they need to because of RoyalRoad’s own energetic audience. Works can reach thousands to millions of views like the short story, “Lonely Light”. There are Trending and Best Rated pages to gain more readership, and even a Surprise Me! category for the curious and open-minded.
The RoyalRoad community is built from the constructive feedback from readers through comments and ratings, and the continuous improvement and publishing from writers seen through the Latest Updates and New Releases. Their forums are also always active and helpful for users in different aspects such as tips and discussions for both writing and reviewing.

Contribute to Publications

From literary magazines to digital libraries, publications support short stories by bringing highly insightful original works closer to you in a well-curated format. More than that, they connect one creative industry to another by featuring incredible designs and illustrations that complement these stories.
Overall, contributing to publications, by reading or writing, strengthens the literary world and grows your exposure to art.

Electric Literature

Electric Literature sparks the literary world as a nonprofit digital publisher. They provide a platform for what’s socially relevant through essays, interviews, and news categories. But Electric Literature’s true fire lies with their “Lit Mags” that features graphic narratives, poetry, and flash fiction. Their section called Recommended Reading offers the best selection of contemporary fiction, including short stories that are written by the most dynamic voices. While The Commuter introduces readers to a little bit of everything, from flash to experimental narratives, every Monday morning. Works like “Grandma’s Bones Live in My Mouth Now” can add an energizing spin to the start of your week.

Submission Guidelines: Electric Literature accepts contributions for each of their categories. Your short stories can earn a generous publishing rate and a featuring in their various digital issues. You can check out the different guidelines and policies here.

Midnight Breakfast

Midnight Breakfast aims to keep the conversation going. They are a free online literary magazine that publishes diverse voices through fiction, nonfiction, interviews, and visual art. Their short stories, like “Family Economics” or “In Order to Form A More Perfect Union”, keep you full and satisfied like “late-night talks with good friends over greasy food.” Midnight Breakfast offers a complete meal of well-curated literature and inventive art meant to give you a great time reading. If this is your cup of tea, head on over to Midnight Breakfast.

Submission Guidelines: As of now, Midnight Breakfast is not accepting any contributions. You can sign up for their newsletter and follow their social media to learn more.

Narrative Magazine

Narrative Magazine is a free digital library that features engaging works by seasoned authors and emerging writers. They have a selection from fiction to non-fiction works where short stories can be found among novellas and even as a six-word story like Jane Seskin’s “First Lady”. Exploring Narrative Magazine is essentially a literary adventure; every stop makes you want for more.

Submission Guidelines: For a writer’s pay, Narrative Magazine accepts anything of any length, form, and genre as long as its previously unpublished and quality work. They also regularly host numerous writing contests such as Story of the Week and Readers’ Narratives while some with money prizes! You can learn more about their guidelines and policies here.

Tor.com

Tor.com revolves around the complex worlds of science fiction and fantasy. Readers of these genres are welcome to explore this free online magazine where original short stories of contemporary writers are regularly published. Tor.com also has a space in the traditional publishing world through Macmillan Publishers that gives voice and place for diverse authors of the genre! Of course, they have a community of sci-fi/fantasy readers and writers that is continuously growing and active through non-fiction articles. Tor.com is a great avenue to discover new writers and captivating original fiction like Stephen Graham Jones’ “Wait for Night”.

Submission Guidelines: Unfortunately, Tor.com is not accepting original fiction on an indefinite basis. But there are still amazing short stories to read on the website!

American Short Fiction

American Short Fiction is a literary magazine that curates the best of the emerging and established writers of, as you guessed it, American short stories. They publish three times a year with a subscription fee but you’re free to browse through their web exclusives like “Lobsters” and “Less Than Five Miles From Home”. Their first-rate issues have been chosen in Best American Short Stories and the Whitling Literary Magazine Prize! Rest assured, American Short Fiction offers original works that are rare in perspective and substantial in insight such as prized stories from incarcerated writers in Texas.

Submission Guidelines: American Short Fiction accepts short stories from contemporary writers for their triannual magazine and web exclusives for a publishing rate. You can check out their guidelines over here.

Joyland

Joyland represents the best American dream for literature. They are a digital magazine that offers incredible short stories from the different regions of the USA namely, The Northeast, The Midwest, The West, The South, and Consulate. Whether you’re an American or a foreigner, you can find snippets of comfort with Joyland. They work to celebrate and welcome emerging contemporary writers, several of whom have been recognized in Best American Short Stories and Journey Prize Anthology. With a selection of fiction and nonfiction, Joyland doesn’t disappoint.

Submission Guidelines: For a writer’s pay, Joyland accepts submissions all year long. In response to the publishing industry’s disparity in diversity, they also highly encourage Black writers to share their stories without any fees. You can look into their guidelines here.

Smashwords

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of independent e-books in support of writers, readers, and publishers everywhere. They make publishing easy for anyone emerging in the industry and accessible through affordable rates and various formats for interested readers. Smashwords places small-time writers in the big picture. They connect short stories, among other fictional works, to a global retail distribution from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, to libraries all over the world. As e-books, readers also have access to these selections on the website to generously support indie writers.

Submission Guidelines: Smashwords makes publishing your own stories easy through this guide.

Carve Magazine

Carve Magazine paves the way for literature in print and online. They’ve been publishing well-curated short stories, dubbed HONEST FICTION, for decades and has expanded to releasing quarterly subscription issues with more exclusive content such as interviews of the writers and additional features. Original works in HONEST FICTION are published on their website that remains free and accessible to any reader. They follow the quarterly release of the magazine which makes each story a perfect read for the start of the season. For the recent Summer 2020, Carve Magazine shares Caleb Tankersly’s “Swamp Creatures” and Danielle Batalion Ola’s “Ask Me Anything” among many other amazing short stories.

Submission Guidelines: For a writer’s pay, Carve Magazine accepts submission all throughout the year. Once accepted, it will be published online and on their print and digital issues. Learn more about their guidelines and policies here. Carve Magazine also hosts their own Raymond Carver Short Story Contest annually that gives writers money prizes and place in the publication.

Paper Darts

Paper Darts goes all or nothing. Their statement: “WE PUBLISH UNCOMMON WORK BY NEW VOICES THAT YOU JUST CAN’T GET ANYWHERE ELSE.” Yes, in all caps. Paper Darts merges literature and art that provides a unique, creative experience. Their selection of contemporary fiction, from short stories to micro prose, is complemented with wonderful illustrations and minimalist design. Discover works like “My Son’s Body Double Does Not Understand Why She Is Even Here” and “Lobsterwomen” that’s sure to be entertaining and memorable. With this literary magazine, the act of reading becomes as beautiful as what you’re reading. Paper Darts sure hits it right.

Submission Guidelines: Unfortunately, Paper Darts is temporarily not accepting any submissions. Be ready when they are over here.

In the end…

Short stories take little of your time but can impact you forever. These are the best places to find original content that’s accessible and easy to read on-the-go (check out Commaful’s picture books), follow amazing writers and artists (search up Electric Lit’s contributors), join wonderful communities (interact in RoyalRoad and send kudos at AO3), and share your own special stories (sign up to Wattpad or submit to Joyland).

I write short thrillers, fanfiction, and poetry

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