Deadline: May 1st, 2023
Payment: $25.00 – $50.00 for fiction, $5.00 – $10.00 for poetry
Theme: Story must begin with: “All the lawns on Mentone Avenue are mowed on Wednesdays.”
We love that writers around the world are inspired by our first lines, and we know that not every story will be sent to us. However, we ask that you do not submit stories starting with our first lines to other journals (or post them online on public sites) until we’ve notified you as to our decision (usually four weeks after the deadline). When the entire premise of the publication revolves around one sentence, we don’t want it to look as if we stole that sentence from another writer. If you have questions, feel free to drop us a line.
Also, 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. And, just to be clear, we do not accept simultaneous submissions.
One more thing while I’ve got you here: Writers compete against one another for magazine space, so, technically, every literary magazine is running a contest. There are, however, literary magazines that run traditional contests, where they charge entry fees and rank the winners. We do not – nor will we ever – charge a submission fee, nor do we rank our stories in order of importance. Occasionally, we run contests to help come up with new first lines, or we run fun, gimmicky competitions for free stuff, but the actual journal is not a contest in the traditional sense.
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. 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). The sentences can be found on the home page of The First Line’s website, as well as in the prior issue. Note: We are open to all genres. We try to make TFL as eclectic as possible.
Poetry: We do accept poetry, though rarely. We have no restrictions on form or line count, but all poems must begin with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way.
Non-Fiction: 500-800 word critical essays about your favorite first line from a literary work.