There’s something captivating about shorter forms of fiction. In that brief period, they can hook you and make you think in profound ways. That’s true not just of classic literary pieces, but with fantasy short stories too.
Short tales from this genre not only introduce us to memorable characters and make us think deeply about what it is to be human, but there are also dragons, magic, swords and bows too—never a bad thing, especially for readers with big imaginations and a love of escapism.
And that’s why I put together this guide, to tell you a bit more about the short fantasy story. Over the years I’ve also been lucky enough to have had a fair few short stories published, mostly in the fantasy genre. Below, you can read some of them for free too. And I’ve also included some tips and advice on finding even more fantasy short stories too.
Choose A Chapter
- What Is A Fantasy Short Story?
- Read Free Fantasy Short Stories
- Where Can You Find More Fantasy Short Stories
- What’s The Best Fantasy Short Story?
- Learn More About My Short Fantasy Stories
What Is A Fantasy Short Story?
A fantasy short story is a piece of prose that’s no more than around 15,000-20,000 words long, though the industry average is between 4,000-7,000 words.
The best fantasy short story will be one in which characters are fully developed, interesting, and make you want to go on an adventure with them. Some may have gripping plots fuelled with tension and conflict. Others may explore meaningful premises. A few may include all of these wonderful ingredients plus much more.
Read Free Fantasy Short Stories
I try to write as many fantasy short stories as time allows. The process is wonderfully refreshing after being ensnared by the piles of chapters and long-reaching arcs and plots of novels.
I write short fiction in a variety of genres—fantasy, historical, general, and a touch of horror too. In my stories I seek to tackle premises and aspects of human nature I find particularly curious: choices between right or wrong, loyalty, love, faith and beliefs, clinging onto the past, refusing to change.
Below you’ll find links to my published fantasy short stories. Most of them you can read for free online. Some you have to buy. I’ve included links to those you’re able to read below.
Follies of the Proud
Published by TANSTAAFL Press as part of the ‘Witches, Warriors, and Wyverns’ anthology.
The White of the Canvas
First published in October 2018 (under the title A Light in the Dark) by Art in Liverpool as part of the Independents Biennial 2018 and again by Bewildering Stories in January 2020 (under the title The White of the Canvas). Audio versions published by BBC Radio Merseyside and Liverpool Everyman Theatre. Published for a third time by The Fear of Monkeys.
Into the Eligar
Published in October 2019 by Fiction Vortex as part of the ‘Of Metal and Magic’ anthology.
The Monster of Grug
Published in August 2019 by Liquid Imagination.
Published in May 2019 by Kzine and again by Tall Tale TV (audiobook) in January 2020. Noodlin’ is a story about a proud fisherman who’s reluctant to change his ways.
First published in May 2017 by Aphelion Webzine and again in February 2020 by Scarlett Leaf Review
First published in September 2017 by Writing on the Wall, and in audiobook form by Tall Tale TV in October 2017
Self-published in October 2017 in aid of Ranelagh House
The Pigeon Catchers
First published in October 2017 by Far Horizons and again in July 2018 by Aether and Ichor
Death of the Empress
First published by Alien Pub Magazine in May 2018 and in December 2019 by The Magazine of History & Fiction
Published in October 2018 by Art in Liverpool as part of the Independents Biennial 2018
Where Can You Find More Fantasy Short Stories?
The internet is awash with fantasy short stories that you can read for free online or in magazines and journals.
One of the best places to begin your search is my list of fantasy magazines. Here you can find over 200 different publishers of quality speculative fiction (as well as other genres too, such as horror and sci fi). There’s a broad range of publisher sizes too, from indie online presses to award-winning presses and imprints of the top publishers.
I highly recommend checking out Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Clarkesworld, which are two of the biggest and most prolific publishers of short fantasy stories.
Once you find a publisher you like, you can find stories on their websites to read for free. You can also subscribe to their newsletter to receive updates on new stories or to receive short stories directly.
Another option is to follow your favorite writers either on social media or via their newsletter. Lots of writers produce short stories on a regular basis which they share with their followers (sometimes exclusively). So to be sure you don’t miss out, sign up to their mailing list.
What’s The Best Fantasy Short Story?
There are many stories that have a claim as the best fantasy short story. However, some people might read them and fail to see the attraction. Reading is inherently subjective and what one person may like another may detest.
However, there are some stories that are worth reading, if not to gain an understanding as to why they’re regarded so highly.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the best and most popular fantasy short stories:
- Snow White by The Brothers Grimm – Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected an impressive number of fairy tales over the years, but arguably their most fantastical story is the classic tale of Snow White, complete with dwarfs, queens that resurrect from the date, and a talking mirror.
- The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth by Lord Dunsany – Edward Plunkett, better known as Lord Dunsany, was an early writer of fantasy stories. He created his own pantheon of goddesses and gods which helped inspire his stories. This tale is an example of the sword and sorcery fantasy subgenre. It involves a quest into the magical castle ‘Fortress Unvanquishable’ to recover a powerful sword named Sacnoth.
- Leaf By Niggle by JRR Tolkien – Well-known for his more epic fantasy novels, Tolkien also wrote short stories, including ‘Leaf By Niggle’ which many regard as an allegory for Tolkien’s struggles with writing. However, Tolkien didn’t like allegories, but the story reflects on Niggle’s (a painter) challenges with others thwarting his ambitions.
- The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin – The talented Le Guin was prolific in both the fantasy and sci fi genres, penning stories that explore philosophical and ethical issues. Omelas is a society in which everyone is happy. But there’s a dark secret—that happiness is dependent on the suffering of an incarcerated child who lives a miserable life. But they must be miserable in order for everyone else to be happy.
These are just a handful of examples of some of the best fantasy short stories around. You can find many more if you do a bit of digging.
Learn More About My Short Fantasy Stories
If you’d like to learn more about my fantasy short stories, then I encourage you to join my newsletter. Everyone who joins will receive dozens of free short stories (mostly fantasy but crossing genres too).
To join, simply click here.
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