The First Line is a unique, quarterly magazine that focuses on the first lines of stories. They host four annual short story contests. Prizes include 20 US dollars, publication, and a copy of the issue your story appears in.
The current deadline is August 1, 2008. The current first line is:
Roy owned the only drive-thru funeral business in Maine.
Here’s their submission guidelines:
We love the fact 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 two to three weeks after the deadline). When the entire premise of the publication revolves around one sentence, we don't want it to look like we stole that sentence from another writer. If you have questions, feel free to drop us a line.
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 3,000 words. The sentences can be found on the home page of The First Line's Web site, as well as in the prior issue. Note: We are open to all genres. We try to make TFL as eclectic as possible.
Non-Fiction: 500-800 word critical essays about your favorite first line from a literary work.
All Stories: Writers should include a two- to three-sentence biography of themselves that will appear in the magazine should their story run.
Multiple Submissions: We don't mind if you want to submit multiple stories for the same issue. However, it is unlikely we will use more than one of your stories in the same issue.
Continuing Series: We will consider only four-part stories using all the sentences for a single year. All the stories must be submitted at once (a single e-mail or snail mail) before the February 1st deadline.
Submissions: 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). 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 return postage. Here is the submission schedule for this year's sentences:
Spring Issue Deadline: February 1st Summer Issue Deadline: May 1st Fall Issue Deadline: August 1st Winter Issue Deadline: November 1st
Notification: We don't make any decisions about stories until after each issue closes. We typically send notices out within two to three 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 status there.
NOTE: For some reason, AOL won't show us any love. If you have an AOL e-mail account, you may not receive notification. Please change your settings to allow e-mail from our addresses, as well as thefirstline (@) hotmail (dot) com.
Payment: We pay on publication $20.00 (US) for fiction and $10.00 (US) for nonfiction. We also send you a copy of the issue in which your story or nonfiction appears. You'll receive your money and issue at the same time.
Because The First Line is such a unique magazine, I’m going to be reviewing it sometime in the upcoming weeks. So look for it!