Guidelines - Fall 2019
submissions must begin with one first line from
Volume 11, Issue 1 to Volume 15, Issue 4:
Vol. 11, Iss. 1: Herman Sligo was a bit
actor who played Uncle Emil in three episodes of the popular
television series The Five Sisters.
Vol. 11, Iss. 2: For two weeks now, I've been trying to
figure out if people are laughing with me or at me.
Vol. 11, Iss. 3: "My life is a sham."
Vol. 11, Iss. 4: Waiting for change always seems to take
longer than you would expect.
Vol. 12, Iss. 1: Working for God is never easy.
Vol. 12, Iss. 2: Paul and Miriam Kaufman met the old-fashioned
Vol. 12, Iss. 3: Three thousand habitable planets in the
known universe, and I'm stuck on the only one without
___________. [Fill in the blank.]
Vol. 12, Iss. 4: Until I stumbled across an article about
him in the paper, I never realized how much Walter Dodge
and I are alike.
Vol. 13, Iss. 1: Sam was a loyal employee.
Vol. 13, Iss. 2: "We need to talk."
Vol. 13, Iss. 3: Edwin spotted them the moment he stepped
off the train.
Vol. 13, Iss. 4: It had been a long year.
Vol. 14, Iss. 1: "There are a few things you need
to know before we start."
Vol. 14, Iss. 2: Rachel's first trip to England didn't
go as planned.
Vol. 14, Iss. 3: A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon
left the diner and made his way down Madison Street.
Vol. 14, Iss. 4: Sometimes, when it's quiet, I can remember
what my life was like before moving to Cedar Springs.
Vol. 15, Iss. 1: On a perfect spring morning with flat
seas and clear blue skies, Captain Eli P. Cooke made a
Vol. 15, Iss. 2: I started collecting secrets when I was
just six years old.
Vol. 15, Iss. 3: There must have been thousands standing
in the rain that day.
Vol. 15, Iss. 4: I came of age in a time of no heroes.
just resubmit a story we've already rejected. We
will know. We have every story submitted to us on
file and why we rejected it.
we understand that writers may add our first line
to a story they are currently working on or have
already completed, and that's cool. But please do
not add our first line to a previously published
story and submit it to us. We do not accept previously
published stories, even if they have been repurposed
for our first lines.
if you used one of our past first lines for a story
that was published in another journal or magazine,
write and tell us about it.
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).
All poems must be written with the first line provided.
The sentence can be broken across lines, but the punctuation
cannot be altered or dropped. Poem length is up to the
Submissions: 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 or poems for the same 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 you tell us what issue you are submitting
to in the email Subject Line. 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
We don't make decisions about stories until after each
issue closes. We typically send notices out within three
to four 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