Guidelines - Summer 2019
submissions must begin with one first line from
Volume 6, Issue 1 to Volume 10, Issue 4:
Vol. 6, Iss. 1: There were five of them,
which was two more than I'd been expecting.
Vol. 6, Iss. 2: "Why are you always so cynical?"
Vol. 6, Iss. 3: I was born Rosa Carlotta Silvana Grisanti,
but in the mid-Eighties, I legally changed my name to
Vol. 6, Iss. 4: The inside was dark.
Vol. 7, Iss. 1: Life would be so much easier if I were
a cartoon character.
Vol. 7, Iss. 2: As the warrior guided [his/her] horse
back home, [he/she] pondered what the future might hold.
Vol. 7, Iss. 3: Having little to his name when he died,
the reading of Henry Fromm's will went quickly.
Vol. 7, Iss. 4: "That was the best game we've ever
Vol. 8, Iss. 1: Mamma has always had a love for other
Vol. 8, Iss. 2: Tessa sent up a hasty prayer for forgiveness
as she slipped on the dress Mamma had bought her in exchange
for a promise not to marry Al.
Vol. 8, Iss. 3: When my brother, Andrew, went away to
college, he left me his fishing pole, a well-read copy
of The Wind in the Willows, and a stack of Playboys.
Vol. 8, Iss. 4: It was her silent affirmations that kept
her from going completely insane.
Vol. 9, Iss. 4: After nine years of marriage, Mary knew
that the holidays were not a good time to ask her husband
for a favor.
Vol. 9, Iss. 3: Calvin once complained that there were
not enough _______ [fill in the blank] in the world.
Vol. 9, Iss. 2: My first impression of Phillip was that
he was blessed with ignorance.
Vol. 9, Iss. 1: In Pigwell, time is not measured in days
or weeks but by the number of eighteen wheelers that drive
past my house.
Vol. 10, Iss. 4: While not the intended effect, the outcome
was surprisingly satisfying.
Vol. 10, Iss. 3: Roy owned the only drive-thru funeral
business in Maine.
Vol. 10, Iss. 2: Nick had considered himself a lucky guy,
Vol. 10, Iss. 1: Sometimes the name they give you is all
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