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Magazine Stand :: The First Line – Fall 2023

The First Line Spring 2023 cover image

The First Line Fall 2023 issue tasked writers with the line, “As soon as Harriet entered the building, she headed to the seventh floor.” Contributors include Brian Shaw, Gretchen Oliver, Footnotes by Doug Devaney, Georgi Presecky, Ruswa Fatehpuri, Alison Morretta, Vernon McDonald, Harriet Takes a Ride by Mary Corbin, and an essay by A. R. Cochrane. The First Lines for 2024 have been announced along with their deadlines. Visit the publication’s website for complete submission information.

Find out more about many of these titles with our Guide to Literary Magazines and our Big List of Literary Magazines and Big List of Alternative Magazines. If you are a publication looking to be listed in our monthly roundup or featured on our blog and social media, please contact us.

Magazine Stand :: The First Line – Spring 2023

The First Line Spring 2023 cover image

With this Spring 2023 issue, The First Line begins its twenty-fifth year (!) with stories from Keith Casto, Dana Hufe, Philip Umbrino, Sayward MacInnis, Morag Allan Campbell, Heather McCoubrey, Ralph Hornbeck, and Christie Cochrell, all starting with the same first line: I am the second Mrs. Roberts. The spring issue also includes an essay from Sandy Kelman about the first line of Marc Hamer’s Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden.

To find more great reading, visit the NewPages Guide to Literary Magazines, the NewPages Big List of Literary Magazines, the NewPages Big List of Alternative Magazines, and the NewPages Guide to Publications for Young Writers. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay up to date!

The 2023 First Lines Announced

The First Line literary magazine typewriter logo

If you don’t know about literary magazine The First Line, it is a quarterly print publication in which all pieces start with the same opening line. They also have The Last Line in which all pieces must end with the same line. You can learn more about them here.

They have announced their line-up of first and last lines for 2023. There is no fee to submit. Fiction and nonfiction only. You are not allowed to alter the first or last lines in any way.

Summer 2023 First Line

All the lawns on Mentone Avenue are mowed on Wednesdays.

Due date: May 1, 2023

Fall 2023 First Line

As soon as Harriet entered the building, she headed to the seventh floor.

Due date: August 1, 2023

Winter 2023 First Line

It was the farthest north they had ever been.

Due date: November 1, 2023

The Last Line for 2023

Samir was never one to back down from a challenge.

Due date: October 1, 2023.

View full submission information at their website.

The First Line 2022 Lines Announced!

The First Line typewriter

Everything starts the same, but it all ends differently. The First Line is a print literary magazine that is unaffiliated, unfunded, unassuming, and works hard to be inspiring. Each year they offer four writing prompts. All pieces submitted must start with these lines. Where they go from there is dependent on you.

Check out the first lines slated for 2022 & consider taking up the challenge and writing a story. And don’t forget to check out their past issues.

“Rayna sat in front of the mirror removing her makeup and wondered who she would discover underneath.”
Due date: February 1, 2022

“Thomas hadn’t expected to be alive when the town’s time capsule was opened.”
Due date: May 1, 2022

“Lily unlocked the back door of the thrift store using a key that didn’t belong to her.”
Due date: August 1, 2022

“When he died, their father had two requests.”
Due date: November 1, 2022

Test Your First Line Prowess!

The First Line typewriter

Literary magazine The First Line recently realized they haven’t asked their readers and writers to supply first lines in a few years and decided to change that with The First Line 2022 First (and Last) Line Contest.

You have until September 15 at 6PM EST to submit up to three first lines and one last line. These must be original and unpublished. Those whose first or last line are selected will receive $100 and five copies of the issue inspired by their line. Pretty cool, huh? Oh, and there is no fee to enter!

Also, The First Line is giving away 22 one-year PDF subscriptions. All you have to do is enter you’re first and last lines and you’ll be put in the running for the subscription, too.

Bonus Issues with The First Line

The First Line typewriter

Readers, did you know you get a bonus when you subscribe to The First Line? Each subscription comes with one free issue of The Last Line. For those unfamiliar with the journal, The First Line features stories that all start with the same opening sentence, and The Last Line features stories that end with the same closing sentence.

A subscription to The First Line gets you one free issue of The Last Line per subscribed year. It doesn’t matter if you go for the print or the digital subscription—both offer the free issue. The issues are already very affordably priced, but you should still take advantage of the offer and get yourself another source of great writing.

First Lines for 2016

snoopy typingThe First Line literary magazine is built on the premise of jump-starting writers’ imaginations. The publication provides the first line for writers and accepts fiction and non-fiction submissions for each issue based on that unique first line. Since 1999, readers have been able to enjoy a wealth of creativity that stems from these common start points. Recently, the first line held a contest for – First Lines! They received over 1,000 entries and selected four to use as the first lines for 2016:

Spring: “Unfortunately, there is no mistake,” she said, closing the file. (Submitted by Julia Offen)
Summer: By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets. (Submitted by Julie Thi Underhill)
Fall: Mrs. Morrison was too busy to die. (Submitted by Victoria Phelps)
Winter: In the six years I spent tracking David Addley, it never occurred to me that he didn’t exist. (Submitted by Aysha Akhtar)

“But wait,” says Editor David LaBounty, “there’s more. We felt several sentences that were submitted as first lines would have made great last lines, and since we needed a last line for the third issue of The Last Line, we decided to pick one more sentence. We chose the following to be the last line for the 2016 issue.”

Issue 3 of The Last Line: It was hard to accept that from now on everyone would look at her differently. (Submitted by Adele Gammon)

In case you weren’t sure, The Last Line annual lit mag is the same concept, only flipped: writers are provided with the last line as their prompt.

No excuses writers: you’ve been prompted!

The First Line Tries The Last Line

first-lineSince 1999, The First Line magazine has been issuing the starting point for writers to engage their creativity and publishing the finished works to share with readers the many different directions writers can take when given the same start point. After so long a successful run of sharing first lines (like the one for the next issue: “We went as far as the car would take us.”), The First Line is ready to mix it up a bit.

The Last Line is an “experiment” to see how writers respond to using the prompt as the final sentence of the story. The guidelines are the same (300-5000 words), and the editors will publish selected works in a December issue. If it seems to go well, there may be more in store for last line writers and readers. The experimental last line: “Brian pocketed the note and realized it had all been worth it.”

Start the creative engines and put it in reverse! Submissions are due October 1, 2014.

Bonus: The editors are looking for a creative cover idea for The Last Line issue. Visit their website here.

The First Line – Fall 2005

Incipit: “Having little to his name when he died, the reading of Henry Fromm’s will went quickly.” I’m willing to overlook the dangling modifier in this issue’s first line (though many outraged “writers” did not, say the editors) because, after all, it’s the end product that counts: seven short stories and even a poem, all beginning with this opening sentence. Continue reading “The First Line – Fall 2005”