The First Line 224


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.
NON-FICTION: Critical essays about your favorite first line from a literary work.

The First LineUnited States

Submission Periods

Rolling Submission Periods: Check cut-off dates.

Genres, Styles & Subjects

OOpen to All/Most Genres 
 Styles:Literary, Mainstream.
 Subjects:Subject/Theme(s) may vary.

Types & Lengths

YEssay500 - 800 words; unknown number of pieces
FFlash Fiction300 - 1000 words; unknown number of pieces
SShort Story1000 - 5000 words; unknown number of pieces

Media & Publication Frequency

PPrint PublicationPublished 4 x per year


We do not list pay specifics. Check with the publisher for details.
FShort fictionS Semi-pro payment (1-4.9 US cents per word).
NShort non-fictionS 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 SubsReprintsMultiple SubsSimultaneous Subs
FFiction OK OK No OK No
NNon-Fiction OK OK No OK No

Theme Calendar

First line: "Please, Sylvia, give me a moment to think."F Fiction01 May 2014 (in 8 days)6
First line: Fifty miles west of Bloomington lies Hillsboro, a monument to middle-class malaise.F Fiction01 Aug 2014 (in 100 days)2
First line: We went as far as the car would take us.F Fiction01 Nov 2014 (in 192 days)2

More Information is Available to Members

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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:
14 Apr 2014
Last Checked:
08 Apr 2014