Each story will be posted with title, link to my review and how many stars I gave it (the story), first sentence, and some commentary on that sentence. Tally ho!
Bubbles, 4 stars
The first sentence: One of Derpy's favorite things to do is helping mommy.
Thoughts: The thing that Bubbles did particularly well was use simplistic narration to convey what Derpy perceived, while still showing the reader enough for them to infer what was actually happening. The opening line (and paragraph, for that matter) sets that simple, uncomprehending tone right away, which is exactly what it needs to do. That said, there's nothing here that really draws the reader in. On balance, I'd give this a three for preparing the way for the rest of the fic admirably, but not standing apart as exemplary or memorable (for a first sentence) in any way.
Past Sins, 2 stars
The first sentence: Amidst dim candlelight, a single unicorn sat with his head bent down, eyes shut.
Thoughts: Here's another "does the job, but doesn't go above and beyond" sentence, though this one doesn't exactly do much. It gives us a character, but it doesn't do much to set the mood ("dim candlelight" plus "head bent down, eyes shut" can mean anything from satanic ritual to cozy late-night reading session-turned nap), and it doesn't give me much to work with. There's nothing here that makes me want to stop reading, but I'd still only give this a two.
My Little Dashie, 1 star
The first sentence: I live my life, one day at a time.
Thoughts: This is a tough one for me. I mean, my reaction is something along the line of "ugh, cliche much?" ...But that notwithstanding, it's a very good first sentence in the sense that it sets you up for what's to come. My Little Dashie is transparently a "feels fic," designed to elicit specific emotions from a reader willing to invest empathy into the protagonist without being given a good reason to. The first sentence is empty of meaning, but does set a mood... if you let it. In that sense, it's a wonderful first sentence for this story. That said, it's not a good first sentence in any other sense, but I'm still going to let that move me to a 2.
Fallout: Equestria, 5 stars
If I’m going to tell you about the adventure of my life -- explain how I got to this place with these people, and why I did what I’m going to do next -- I should probably start by explaining a little bit about PipBucks.
Thoughts: The first few chapters of Fo:E are not its best by any stretch, but the first sentence is pretty solid. It starts us off with something low-key--a prelude to a bit of in-character description--while promising adventure and answers to come. It doesn't give us much hint of tone; if anything, the informal addressing of the reader sets the stage for much lighter action than what comes. Still, it's a good hook, sets a clear path, and gets a four from me.
Sunny Skies All Day Long, 4 stars
The first sentence: The sun was setting in Canterlot with the moon just creeping over the horizon.
Thoughts: This, on the other hand, does almost none of that. It gives us a scene--a place and a time--but delivers almost nothing else. And frankly, that bit of setting is vague enough that it probably doesn't deserve its own sentence; "twilight in Canterlot" is something that can be fully conveyed without a stand-alone. Also, the missing comma bodes ill. Going just by the first sentence, this gets a one from me.
On a Cross and Arrow, 2 stars
The first sentence: "Spike, can you be a dear and get me 'Rules of Thermodynamics 101?"
Thoughts: Starting with dialogue doesn't bother me, as long as character is identified pretty quickly (and if you can't figure out that it's Twilight talking, the next sentence makes that clear, so we're good on that front). The sentence fits character well enough, and ends up communicating a surprising amount (giving strong hints of setting (library) and tone (relaxed, pre-conflict). It doesn't do much of anything to draw the reader in, though, and doesn't stand well on its own. Still a three for doing its job without being otherwise noteworthy, though.
Allegrezza, 1 star
The first sentence: Octavia fidgeted backstage, ensuring her mane was in perfect form, her cello tuned, and that her bow wasn’t frayed or missing any strings.
Thoughts: On the surface, this seems like a decent first sentence: it gives us a setting, prepares us for the presumed first event of the fic (a concert/performance), and conveys Octavia's mood. That last phrase sets off warning bells, though; she's checking that she's not missing any strings? How does that possibly fit into the same list as tuning-verifying and mane-checking? That concern knocks this down to a two from me.
The first sentence: The day which would go so wrong started as so many days did in Ponyville: simple and pleasant.
Thoughts: "It was a beautiful day in Ponyville" is rightly mocked as a terrible opening sentence, because it can almost always be deleted without harming the story--and when you can delete a sentence without harming your story, you should. This story takes a variation on that sentence, but uses it to effect: here, it directly contrasts the beautiful day with the promise of disaster to come. That said, there's still just not much here; this sentence may do something, but does it do something necessary? I'm going to give it a three on the grounds that it does what it sets out to and does nothing to frighten me off, but for all that, it's a low three.
So what did we learn today? That I've still only given out one five through 18 first sentence reviews. That seems reasonable; memorable first sentences are rare. I spent a bit trying to figure out how many I knew off the top of my head from traditional literature, and could only come up with a couple dozen. Also, this was still fun. First sentences may not make or break a story, but their still important, and it's interesting to see how those first sentences match up to the story that comes after.