Free Fiction Online

Updated on September 9, 2016
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Jill has been writing as The Dirt Farmer on HubPages for nine years.

Where can you find free contemporary fiction online?

For voracious readers, reading can be a costly habit.
For voracious readers, reading can be a costly habit. | Source

An amazing quantity of great fiction is available for free online.

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Thanks to online magazines and journals, great quantities of short fiction and poetry are available free of charge on the web.

Published biannually, quarterly, monthly or even daily, these online publications offer a trove of material by contemporary authors.

Although they probably won't replace the books and magazines readers already buy, online fiction sites and journals are a nice addition to anyone's rainy day stash of reads.

Below is a sampling of my current faves.

Like the fiction in most print publications, the works in the online publications below have been vetted by editors. is a free online magazine that publishes a new science fiction, fantasy or horror short story each month.

It also publishes flash fiction and winners of the site's sponsored contests. All the issues, from 2011 to the present, are available for free.

The site's homepage is rather uninspiring visually, but the story postings themselves are attractive and easy to read.

Sci-fi is my least favorite genre, and I haven't read all the more than 100 stories posted on, but of those I have read, the older stories seem to be the best.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Contrary Magazine

Turning words into art is unnatural. It begins with a contrary attitude. It says, I am unhappy with the way things are and desire to make things different.

— John Olson

Subtitled the "Journal of Unpopular Discontent," Contrary Magazine is a quarterly lit mag predicated upon the idea that, by its very nature, all art is contrary and unnatural. (See John Olson's blog "Brought to a Boil: An Essay on Experimental Poetry," which is quoted on Contrary's About page.)

Each issue is both literary and eminently readable, and includes poetry and reviews in addition to short fiction. Contrary has won numerous awards, including Best of the Web in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

I thought these stories from recent issues were particularly good:

  • "The Horses of Sanlucar" by Richard Farrell focuses on a Navy wife and her attempts to break free from a stultifying marriage.
  • "Pablo Escobar's Hippos" by Jane Hammons is an intriguing piece of experimental fiction that breaks many "rules" yet still delights.

Every Day Fiction

Every Day Fiction's tagline is "bite-sized stories for a busy world," and it provides just that— flash fiction in a variety of genres, each at 1,000 words or less.

Stories are delivered for free to subscriber email accounts daily. (Formerly, delivery was every day; currently, it is every weekday.)

Subscribers may read the stories there or click the titles to read them on the Every Day Fiction website.

As noted above, stories on Every Day Fiction are diverse, ranging from fantasy to mystery to romance and everything in between, as the sampling below illustrates:

Flash Fiction Magazine

Subtitled "Daily Flash Fiction Stories," Flash Fiction Magazine delivers flash for free via email to subscribers daily.

The quality of the fiction is sporadic, and no better or worse than that published on Every Day Fiction; however, the commenters are wonderfully supportive. It's a nice site to visit! Also, readers get a complimentary Flash Fiction Magazine eBook when they subscribe.

Here are a few recent stories I particularly enjoyed:

Flash Fiction Online

Flash Fiction Online (FFO) publishes a mix of genre flash fiction, including horror, fantasy, crime and science fiction on a monthly basis. Each story is 500 to 1,000 words long.

Current and past issues are available online for free, but readers may also buy digital copies of FFO issues and anthologies through Amazon for Kindle and through Weightlessness.

Here's a sampling of stories from recent issues. They're all good, the first and last phenomenally so.

  • In "Mamihlapinatapei" by Rachel K. Jones, a janitor at a dinosaur habitat on Navarino Island gives up her native language for the sake of ambition, and loses more than she can ever express.

  • "You Are Not a Metaphor" takes place in a future where reading "more novels than news" and obsessing about "plot holes in TV shows" is a treatable disease.
  • "The Cell I'm In" by Eli Hastings is a first-person account of the narrator's complicity in his best friend's murder.

On the Premises

Like, On the Premises is not a particularly attractive website; however, it does offer free issues of wonderful fiction, each responding to a particular premise (hence the website name).

Stories in the October 2015 issue, for instance, are all told in chronological order— without flashbacks. The first-place story for October is an excellent fantasy by L.S. Johnson called "The Tale of King Edgar."

Visitors to the site have access to all issues of On the Premises, including the current one.

Pure Slush

Pure Slush, subtitled "flash . . . without the wank," is a fun site that publishes flash fiction, poetry and short nonfiction that visitors can read for free.

Each issue is centered around a given topic. As of this writing, for instance, the topic of the next issue will be "cake," and all works in the issue will, at the very least, have the word "cake" in them.

Poems and stories on Pure Slush are displayed on a graphic that looks like the page of book, and readers turn the pages by clicking arrows, getting a new piece on each page.

It's a pleasure to leaf through Pure Slush. Sometimes one comes across real gems, like these stories:

  • "Nine Lives" by Lynn Mundell is the humorous story of an aging cat burglar's last heist.
  • "Possession," a creepy piece of flash fiction that features a surprise narrator and a woman who loves The Exorcist a bit too much.
  • "I have come a long way" by Kathryn Lee tells the story of girl coming to terms with her sexuality from her mother's point of view.

Toasted Cheese Literary Journal

Toasted Cheese is a free online literary journal that publishes poetry, flash fiction, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and reviews on a quarterly basis.

Topics and genres are diverse, and include fantasy, mystery and horror— but no porn or extreme violence.

Toasted Cheese's archives are also available, so visitors can read past issues as well as the current issue for free.

They can also read current and former winners of the site's contests, including a 2014 winner by yours truly. (If you read it, be kind. I only had 48 hours.)

Which do you prefer?

See results

The site's three annual contests are

  • The Three Cheers and Tiger 48-Hour Short Story Writing Contest
  • A Midsummer Tale Narrative Writing Contest
  • Dead of Winter Horror Writing Contest.

Selected stories are made into podcasts if you'd rather watch than read sometimes.

WOW! Women on Writing

WOW! publishes the winners of its quarterly flash fiction contests. Previous winning stories are also available on the site for free. Each is 250-750 words.

The stories are not "chick lit"; they're not even all written by women. They concern a variety of topics, ranging from human trafficking to thieving musicians, and all genres are represented.

Here are a few of my favorite winners:

  • "When You Wake Up" by Solange Hommel concerns a musician with a conscience who has a confession to make when her friend awakens from a coma.
  • "Still Breathing" by Ellyna Ford Phelps is a stark, lyrical tale about a sex slave who refuses to be saved.
  • In "Better Late" by Denise R. Graham, the police underestimate an older driver who causes a fatal "accident."

Nobel Prize Winners

To read some of the most prestigious contemporary work in prose and poetry online for free, check out

The "Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize" provides selected whole works and/or excerpts from winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Here are links to the most recent:

2013 Nobel Prize for Literature Winner Alice Munro

© 2016 Jill Spencer


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    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      3 years ago from United States

      Natalie, thanks so much for commenting. I'm buying more eBooks too. I love to hold books in my hands, but . . . they take up so much room!

    • profile image

      Natalie Frank 

      3 years ago

      Great article! I was familiar with some of the sites you mentioned but needed reminding they were out there. I'm always looking for new places to find online fiction as I have a bad habit of bringing home books and before I know it there's little room left for me! Thanks for the info. I'll be following you from now on! Looking forward to reading more of your articles!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      3 years ago from United States

      Good deal, Patricia! Hope you find something fun to read. (:

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I was familiar with a few of these but not all so am bookmarking this to reference later.

      Thanks for doing the leg work :D

      Angels are once again on the way to you ps

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      3 years ago from United States

      Hi Faith Reaper. Thanks for your comments. Glad you found some links here that you like. If you have the names of those sites where other hubbers have published, let me know. I'd love to check them and out and add them to this list. Best, Jill

    • profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago

      Wow, thanks for all of this great information here on free sites to read fiction! I now some of our writers here on HubPages have some of their fiction available to read free on various sites as well.

      I'm more of a traditional book reader, but do spend a lot of time reading on line, so I will be sure to check out some of these interesting sites. The contests sound fun too.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      3 years ago from United States

      Hi Larry! I'd love to hear what you think of the sites you visit. I think the fiction on Flash Fiction Online is particularly fine. Appreciate your comment! All the best, Jill

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great information!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      3 years ago from United States

      Hi Jodah! Thanks for the comment. I'll have to check out The Creative Exiles. There is a lot of good writing out there online. All the best, Jill

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for this wonderful guide to online magazines, fiction, and creative writing sites. I will check them out especially those that run contests. There is also a free site for writers of poetry and fiction that I am a part of called: The Creative Exiles. We are always looking for new authors and readers.


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