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First Line, The


Medium: Print


Genres Accepted: fiction, nonfiction

Established: 1999



An eclectic journal that requires submissions to begin with a provided first line

Payment: $20 for fiction; $10 for nonfiction


The First Line is published four times throughout the year—one issue in the spring, summer, fall, and winter. The journal gives writers a first line to begin their story with in order to cultivate creativity and encourage writers to challenge themselves, the goal being to “see how many different directions we can take when we start from the same place.” They also allow submissions of four-part stories that incorporate each given line from the spring, summer, fall, and winter. All genres are accepted.


The First Line does not seem to have a wide circulation, but its self-proclaimed eclectic nature makes it a viable option for submissions. Although you will not be able to look at a copy online or at Hekman, you can listen to one winning essay (mp3 format) online at their website. The fact that stories of all genres are encouraged, all beginning with the same first line, makes for an interesting collection of literary works.

Calvin Connection:

Hekman Availability: Not available

Submission Instructions:

Stories are due February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1, annually. Four-part stories that use the first line from each season are due February 1. The first line for each season can be found in the prior issue, as well as online.

Fiction: 300-3000 words; all genres accepted and encouraged. The first line cannot be altered in any way.
Nonfiction: 500-800 words; essays are about your favorite first line from any literary work.

Submit a two- or three-sentence biography with your story.
Also include your name and contact information.

Email submissions are preferred: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Send your story as an attachment formatted in MS Word or Word Perfect

You may also mail submissions to:
The First Line
P.O. Box 250382
Plano, Texas 75025-0382

Be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with correct postage if you’d like your manuscript to be returned.


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