We are looking for submissions, up to 4,500 words, from contributors who have something interesting to say and a talent for communicating.  We want to take readers on a journey first and foremost, but we also want that journey to be to somewhere they would not normally go.  Any stories involving vampires, wizards, or single women in their thirties looking for the perfect man/pair of shoes, will most likely need to be ground-breaking works of genius to make the short-list; they are all good subjects, but too familiar.

Contributions for each issue will be short-listed to somewhere between six and eight stories which will be posted on the site.  Once they are on the site they will be handed to our judging panel, whether that be a reading group in Toronto or a convent in Dublin.  The top story will receive a prize of GBP50.00.

Submissions should be double-spaced, in Times New Roman or Arial, with the title, author, and page number at the top of each page.  The Red Line acquires first rights for publication. Upon publication, rights revert to author.  Please do not submit more than one entry per issue/theme.

Note: From January 2014, in addition to the rights listed above, The Red Line would reserve the right to publish all short-listed story in the end of year anthology.  More details to follow.

We welcome simultaneous submissions but ask you to let us know if your work is accepted elsewhere immediately. All work must be previously unpublished.

Our submissions form can be accessed here:


Open Themes

Lies – 31st March

Greed – 31st May

Fame – 30th June

Loss – 31st August

Additional Guidelines

– We do accept creative non-fiction, but please make sure there is something there of interest to a wider audience.

– We do accept experimental formats, but please bear in mind that we are a primarily a short story magazine; we are looking for pieces with a strong narrative that are designed to be read.  We do not accept poetry, or work designed to be performed.  Donald Barthelme would definitely have made the magazine, but a poem by T. S. Eliot, a song by Lennon/McCartney, or a script by David Lynch would not.

– We like genre fiction, but we don‘t like reading the same story over and over again.  Try to make it fresh and well written, as anything relies solely on the standard tropes and stock characters will not make it through our stringent vetting process.

57 thoughts on “Submissions

    • Hi Gerry,

      Yes, there is no restriction on genre, however we are looking for work that avoids cliche so would prefer any genre story to have something that sets it apart.



    • Hi Angelina,

      I’m afraid not. We want to be the first place people can find the short-listed stories. Think of it as an incentive to start a new project…


  1. Do you have a minimum length? You specify that you wish for short stories, but flash fiction isn’t always included in this, and I would like to make certain before submitting.

    • Hi Holly,

      There is no minimum length, although I suppose we are a little wary of flash fiction as it would have to be exceptionally good to take a reader on the same journey that a longer piece could do. I think the shortest piece we have published to date was 1,500 words, but if something was of sufficient quality we would publish something shorter.


  2. Hi, I know you said no works previously published, but if we have submitted a work and are waiting to hear back, is it okay to enter that piece?

    • Hi Stella,
      That’s fine. It’s known as a “simultaneous submission”, and in that case we only ask that you withdraw the story straight away if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

  3. Hello, I’d like to know if we can use the topic, for eg. Conflict as a central metaphor for the entire narrative while exploring hyperbolic metaphors? Such as justice, death etc?

    • Hi. I don’t really understand the question, so I’ll just try and explain the theme issue in a different way. The central theme needs to be conflict, so that can be a conflict between individuals, between states, an internal conflict, etc. but the conflict needs to be recognisable and central to the narrative. To be honest I am not sure what a hyperbolic metaphor is. I understand hyperbole is basically exaggeration in order to emphasize something, so therefore I read hyperbole more about “how” than “what”. If you want to use hyperbole to talk about Justice or Death, that’s no problem, but if it does not involve a very clear conflict it will not be considered for this theme. I hope that answers your question? Good luck! Josh

    • Hi Shashank, No constraint in terms of geography, but all entries must be in English language. Only because of our own limitations, as we can’t read them otherwise. But you are very welcome to enter. Cheers, Josh

    • Hi Sachin, It is open to all nationalities, but we demand quite a high level of English, and we do not edit competition entries. Please bear this in mind when submitting. Josh

  4. Hi – A couple of quick questions – after a submission deadline, how long does it take to know if it has been successful or not? And how long after then is it until it is published?

    • Hi Mary, In an ideal world about three weeks to know if you’re short-listed, and then five weeks from then before this issue is out. About that. It depends on the judges and how quickly our readers can get through the stories. Josh.

  5. Hi,

    Are you open to submissions from Britain alone? I am a short story writer living in India. Can I send a story here, or is this a national thing?

    Many thanks,

    • Hi Shashank, You need to trim it. The word count is pretty generous already, so I reckon with a good edit you should be able to hit the target. Josh.

  6. HI any story competition available and how do i know the topic date of submission date of closind and the date when the winners will be announced and also topic of the current competition if any.

  7. Hello,
    Concerning the ‘Nature’ theme – are you looking for a broad interpretation of the word? Or does it necessarily refer to the environment?

    • Depends on how broad. ‘Human nature’ would be an acceptable interpretation, but that does not mean you could just write a story about people and then add a couple of lines in about ‘human nature’. We can normally tell. Only one way to find out, I suppose…

    • Hi Juliet, That’s a good question. I would say probably not at the moment, but ‘Children’s Stories’ might be a good idea for a themed issue some time in the future. Sorry, though, for now we generally favour adult fiction. Josh

    • Hi Shilpita, We are reading through them now, aiming for short list to be up on the site in about two weeks. Josh

  8. Hello. After submitting to one category, if I think my story fits a later category can it be submitted once again?

    • Hi Daniel, I’m going to answer a bit at length, because the whole point of this site is honest feedback. There are two types of rejections that we have been sending out since the start of the year. Each story is read by two people you give it a grade (yes = 1, maybe = 0, and no = -1). So you get a mark between -2 and +2. Almost no one gets a plus two, so these generally go straight to the short list. Anyone with 1 or 0 gets a ‘near miss’ rejection, which encourages them to resubmit. Anyone with -1 or -2 gets a standard rejection without details. If your story got a ‘near miss’ rejection I would resubmit it, as it may well prove good enough for a later theme, but if it got a standard rejection it’s unlikely to be considered. You also run the risk of it being read by someone who’s read it before, who might not feel well-disposed to re-reading it, and who already knows the end.

      So, my advice would always be to write something new, and we are not the only market out there. If you join our twitter feed we are sending out submission opportunities and listings all the time. But, if you think the story is a great fit for the theme, and you got a ‘near miss’ rejection, it might be worth a shot. Hope this helps,


    • Hi Marc,

      Assuming success, there is a chance that we would want to include your story in the ‘best of the year’ collection. We would clear this with you but if that was the case would well ask for continuing rights, but otherwise we only ask for one time rights. The story would be on our site in perpetuity, though, so that could prohibit sending the story elsewhere.

      Hope that helps,


  9. I wish to know if submitting a short story sent to another competition but is unpublished is possible.
    Thank you.

    • It’s more likely that you will be breaking their rules than ours, but since we ask for first rights you would need to withdraw your story as soon as it is long listed or short listed for the other competition.

  10. Hello,
    I just have a quick question. Let’s assume that a story is short-listed but does not win the top story prize, would we still have the right to participate with it in another competition which as well acquires first rights publication?

    • Hi Kholoud, I doubt it, but you’d have to ask the other competition. First rights means not published elsewhere, and you are published online if you are short listed.

    • Hi Jon, Not to the same competition, but to separate themes that’s fine. If you submit two to the same competition we only take the first and reject all subsequent entries – Josh

  11. Hi, I submitted a story for your Strangers theme on August 5, but I haven’t heard anything — should I assume it’s been declined?

    • Hi Stephanie – you should have received a response via Submittable. If it is not in the short list I’m afraid it has been declined, but if you haven’t seen a response please let me know and I will check to see what happened – Josh

  12. Hi! I submitted something to your Underground issue, and Submittable says it is still “in progress,” though it has been over three weeks. Should I assume the story has been declined? Thanks very much.

    • Hi Luke, It’s not unusual for work to be reviewed over a period of two or three months. I think that you’ll find that’s pretty standard although there are those that respond more quickly. Also, there are deadline and often we don’t allocate the stories to be read until we hit the deadline, which can also cause delays. We don’t ask that you submit only to us, so you can send it elsewhere, but we insist on first rights so it’s not eligible once someone else publishes it. Cheers – Josh

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