November 1, 2014
love the fact that writers around the world are inspired
by our first lines, and we know that not every story will
be sent to us. However, we ask that you do not submit
stories starting with our first lines to other journals
(or post them online on public sites) until we've notified
you as to our decision (usually two to three weeks after
the deadline). When the entire premise of the publication
revolves around one sentence, we don't want it to look
as if we stole that sentence from another writer. If you
have questions, feel free to drop us a line.
more thing while I've got you here: Writers compete against
one another for magazine space, so, technically, every
literary magazine is running a contest. There are, however,
literary magazines that run traditional contests, where
they charge entry fees and rank the winners. We do
not - nor will we ever - charge a submission fee,
nor do we rank our stories in order of importance. Occasionally,
we run contests to help come up with new first lines,
or we run fun, gimmicky competitions for free stuff, but
the actual journal is not a contest in the traditional
All stories must be written with the first line provided.
The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise
noted by the editors. The story should be between 300
and 5,000 words (this is more like a guideline and not
a hard-and-fast rule; going over or under the word count
won't get your story tossed from the slush pile). The
sentences can be found on the home page of The First
Line's Web site, as well as in the prior issue. Note:
We are open to all genres. We try to make TFL as eclectic
500-800 word critical essays about your favorite first
line from a literary work.
Stories: Writers should include a two- to three-sentence
biography of themselves that will appear in the magazine
should their story run.
Submissions: We don't mind if you want to submit multiple
stories for the same issue. However, it is unlikely we
will use more than one of your stories in the same issue.
Stories: If you think you are up to the challenge,
you can write a four-part story that uses the spring,
summer, fall, and winter sentences. However, all the parts
must be submitted at once (a single e-mail or snail mail)
before the February 1st deadline. (If selected, each part
will be published in its respective issue.)
We prefer you send manuscripts via e-mail to submission
(@) thefirstline (dot) com. We accept stories in MS
Word or Word Perfect format (we prefer attachments). Please
do not send pdf versions of your story or links to Google
docs. Make sure your name and contact information, as
well as your bio, are part of the attachment. Stories
also can be sent to The First Line's post office
box. No manuscripts will be returned without an accompanying
SASE with sufficient return postage. Here is the submission
schedule for 2015:
Fairy tales hardly ever come true for quiet girls.
Due date: February 1, 2015
Laura liked to think she was honest with herself; it was
everyone else she lied to.
Due date: May 1, 2015
The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable.
Due date: August 1, 2015
George pressed the call button and said, "Mrs. Whitfield,
you have a visitor."
Due date: November 1, 2015
We don't make decisions about stories until after each
issue closes. We typically send notices out within two
to three weeks after the issue's deadline to everyone
who submitted a story. You can also check the home page
of the Web site as we will indicate each issue's production