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The First Line 219

A project of Blue Cubicle Press (see other related projects).

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About

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.

Country of Publication & Year Established

United States Established in 1999

Publication Medium & Frequency

Print Publication Print PublicationPublished 4 x per year.

Fiction Open

All stories must be written with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors.

Dates:
Rolling Deadlines: Check cutoff dates.
Audience:
Open to a broad Audience.
Genres:
General General
Open to all/most Genres Open to all/most Genres
Styles:
Open to all/most Styles, including: Literary.
Topics:
Other (May vary, See guidelines).
Theme(s):
ThemeDeadlineTrack
First line: Later that evening, they sat alone in their apartment, wondering if they had made the right decision01 Nov 2021*18
Types/Lengths:
TypeLength Details
Flash Fiction Flash Fiction300 - 1,000 words; Unknown number of pieces.
Short Story Short Story1,000 - 5,000 words; Unknown number of pieces.
Payscale:
We list broad pay categories rather than payment specifics. Check with the publisher for details.
Semi-pro payment (1-4.9 US cents per word) Semi-pro payment (1-4.9 US cents per word).
Submissions:
ElectronicPostalReprintsSimultaneousMedia
OK OK No NoText format submissions
Always check guidelines for details and restrictions. If you aren't familiar with these terms, see our glossary.
* We do not know the time and/or timezone, so we cannot be more precise. Submit early to avoid disappointment.

Nonfiction Open

Critical essays about your favorite first line from a literary work.

Dates:
Rolling Deadlines: Check cutoff dates.
Audience:
Open to a broad Audience.
Styles:
Critical.
Topics:
Literature/Books (Theory/Analysis/Criticism, See guidelines).
Types/Lengths:
TypeLength Details
Essay Essay500 - 800 words; Unknown number of pieces.
Payscale:
We list broad pay categories rather than payment specifics. Check with the publisher for details.
Semi-pro payment (1-4.9 US cents per word) Semi-pro payment (1-4.9 US cents per word).
Submissions:
ElectronicPostalReprintsSimultaneousMedia
OK OK No NoText format submissions
Always check guidelines for details and restrictions. If you aren't familiar with these terms, see our glossary.

Poetry Open

Dates:
Rolling Deadlines: Check cutoff dates.
Audience:
Open to a broad Audience.
Genres:
General General
Open to all/most Genres Open to all/most Genres
Poetry Forms:
Open to all/most Forms.
Styles:
Open to all/most Styles, including: Literary.
Topics:
Other (May vary, See guidelines).
Theme(s):
ThemeDeadlineTrack
First line: Later that evening, they sat alone in their apartment, wondering if they had made the right decision01 Nov 2021*6
Types/Lengths:
TypeLength Details
Poem PoemNo line limits known; Unknown number of pieces.
Payscale:
We list broad pay categories rather than payment specifics. Check with the publisher for details.
Semi-pro payment (US$5-49 per poem) Semi-pro payment (US$5-49 per poem).
Submissions:
ElectronicPostalReprintsSimultaneousMedia
OK OK No NoText format submissions
Always check guidelines for details and restrictions. If you aren't familiar with these terms, see our glossary.
* We do not know the time and/or timezone, so we cannot be more precise. Submit early to avoid disappointment.

The First Line Submission Statistics

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Dates

Last Updated: 25 Jul 2021
Last Checked: 11 Oct 2021 We check each active listing's guidelines page for changes once a month (if compliant).
Last Audited: 20 May 2021 We audit each active listing twice a year.
Date Added: 25 Jul 2005

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.
  • Include a SASE with all mailed submissions, queries, and requests for guidelines, unless the editor replies via email or guidelines state otherwise.
  • Be professional, patient, and persistent.