The First Line 186


The purpose of The First Line is to jump start the imagination-to help writers break through the block that is the blank page. Each issue contains short stories that stem from a common first line; it also provides a forum for discussing favorite first lines in literature. The First Line is an exercise in creativity for writers and a chance for readers to see how many different directions we can take when we start from the same place.
FICTION: All stories must be written with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors.
NONFICTION: Critical essays about your favorite first line from a literary work.

The First LineUnited States

Submission Periods

Rolling Submission Periods: Check cut-off dates.


G General 
O Open to all/most Genres 

Audience, Styles & Topics

Audience:Open to a broad Audience.
Styles:Open to all/most Styles, including: Critical, Literary, Mainstream.
Topics:Other (May vary, See guidelines).

Types & Lengths

Y Essay500 - 800 words; unknown number of pieces
F Flash Fiction300 - 1,000 words; unknown number of pieces
S Short Story1,000 - 5,000 words; unknown number of pieces

Media & Publication Frequency

P Print PublicationPublished 4 x per year


We do not list pay specifics. Check with the publisher for details.
F FictionS Semi-pro payment (1-4.9 US cents per word).
N NonfictionS Semi-pro payment (1-4.9 US cents per word).

Submission Types

Always check guidelines for details and restrictions. If you aren't familiar with these terms, see our glossary.
  Electronic SubsPostal SubsReprintsSimultaneous
F Fiction OK OK No No
N Nonfiction OK OK No No

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Before Submitting

We cannot guarantee that the information on this page is correct. It is not unusual for publications to evolve or close without notice. We do our best to keep up, but it isn't always possible. Just remember…

  • Always read the full guidelines provided by the publisher.
  • Try to read at least one previous publication to get a better idea of what the editor would like to see.
  • Unless the publisher's guidelines state otherwise, always use industry standard manuscript formatting.
  • For novel/collection publishers, it is standard to submit a cover letter, synopsis, and sample instead of the full manuscript. Do this unless otherwise instructed.
  • Include a SASE with all mailed submissions, queries, and requests for guidelines, unless the editor replies via or email or guidelines state otherwise.
  • Be professional, patient and persistent.


Date Added:
25 Jul 2005
Last Updated:
15 Jan 2016
Last Checked:
23 May 2016