Guidelines - Spring 2019
submissions must begin with one first line from
1, Issue 1 to Volume 5, Issue 4:
Vol. 1, Iss. 1: Just like his fifth grade
teacher, Mr. Young, had always told him, Brian put on
his thinking cap.
Vol. 1, Iss. 2: The rules are clearly spelled out in the
Vol. 1, Iss. 3: "Well, there's ten minutes of my
life I'll never get back."
Vol. 1, Iss. 4: As the curtain rose, the scenario began
to play itself out.
Vol. 2, Iss. 1: The picture told the entire story.
Vol. 2, Iss. 2: The person on the train kept saying, "I
believe," over and over and over.
Vol. 2, Iss. 3: My father and I left on a Thursday.
Vol. 2, Iss. 4: I remember the radio was playing the best
Vol. 2, Iss. 5: Whitney Heather Yates knew she was in
trouble from the moment she learned how to spell her name.
Vol. 2, Iss. 6: It sounded like she said, "Every
day when I get home, I find a naked body in the bed."
Vol. 3, Iss. 1: "It was the only thing he couldn't
do for her."
Vol. 3, Iss. 2: The party was only the beginning of what
would happen tonight.
Vol. 3, Iss. 3: Hal couldn't sleep.
Vol. 3, Iss. 4: "Step this way as our tour of Earth
Vol. 3, Iss. 5: "Please state your name for the court."
Vol. 3, Iss. 6: "How did you end up with a nickname
Vol. 4, Iss. 1: The first thing I saw when I woke was
Vol. 4, Iss. 2: "The incident on the island is the
stuff of legend, but let me tell you the real story."
Vol. 4, Iss. 3: Jimmy Hanson was a sallow man who enjoyed
little in life save for his _________. [Fill in the blank.]
Vol. 4, Iss. 4: I can't believe I just heard that.
Vol. 5, Iss. 1: Paul Fischer was a graduate student studying
biochemistry at Emory when he met my mother.
Vol. 5, Iss. 2: The view from up here is incredible and
makes me feel _________. [Fill in the blank]
Vol. 5, Iss. 3: "So, all of it was just a lie?"
Vol. 5, Iss. 4: I opened my e-mail with a mix of apprehension
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
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