Short stories, and where to find them
Unless you've never, ever received advice about writing before, you've heard that in order to write well, you must read lots. I would also guess, without knowing with certainty, that if you are interested in writing, you are a lover of stories.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy stories is in short-story form. The short story can tantalize, devastate, terrify, heart-warm in half an hour or less. As Stephen King famously said, "a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger." Oh my.
Another fantastic thing about short stories is that really, really excellent ones are available online, totally free. I thought I would share just a couple places I've found short stories to read online, in addition to a link where I will continue to compile stories.
Near the end of April, I stumbled upon The White Review's 2018 Short Story Prize shortlist. I read the first story on the list, "The Great Awake," by Julia Armfield. Recently, I saw on Julia's Twitter account (@JuliaArmfield) that she won the prize. The opening line of her story has taken up residence in my head and reads itself to me quite frequently: "When I was twenty-seven, my Sleep stepped out of me like a passenger from a train carriage, looked about my room for several seconds and sat down in the chair beside my bed." If that doesn't make you click through to read the whole story I don't know what to do for you.
On my (very neglected) Pinterest account I have a folder where I've saved spots online to read short stories. I will continue to save pages there, even after I've read all the stories available on the page. (Such is the case of the reading list for the "Fear and Suspense Short Story Unit," which offers online access to five classic, suspenseful short stories, in addition to powerpoint presentations related to short story elements!)
If you're interested in reading more short stories but uninterested in what I've linked, some easy recommendations I have are to look at online literary magazines (here is a compilation by Every Writer's Resource) or social media like Twitter (e.g. #shortstory).
As a final thought, short stories are not only a wonderful way to enjoy the magic of storytelling yourself, but they're great for sharing with other people.
When I was somewhere between a "kid" and a "teenager," my parents and I used to go out in the canoe on the pond at camp with our Alfred Hitchcock Presents anthology (Stories for Late at Night) and take turns reading aloud as the others paddled. Back when my husband was my boyfriend, I would select favorites from the same book to terrify him with while we laid in bed. I read him "The Whole Town's Sleeping" by Ray Bradbury (my all-time favorite), "A Cry from the Penthouse" by Henry Slesar, and "The People Next Door" by Pauline Smith, among others. For his part, he went online and read me "The Lottery" and "The Summer People" by Shirley Jackson, "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, and "The Road Virus Heads North" by Stephen King (two of which, incidentally, are available through that story unit linked above).
There are jewels of stories out there waiting to be read, and you don't need to spend a penny or walk to the library to get your hands on them!