Snagged from scripsi, but I'm not going to tag anybody specifically to do it. Just go for it if you feel the urge.
Rules: List the first lines of your last 20 stories (if you have less than 20, just list them all!). See if there are any patterns. Choose your favourite opening line. Then tag 10 authors!
1. “This place?” Arthur stared at the narrow edifice in disbelief. It was practically invisible from the street, years of wear visible in the stonework framing the store’s display window, with a door in full shadow because of how deeply it was recessed. “Are you certain?” - All the Wonder That Would Be, Merlin (Merlin/Arthur)
2. The first one arrives in a box that looks like it was excavated from Sunnydale itself. Dust clings to the label, and three of the corners are smashed in, but the tape is surprisingly intact, and Buffy needs a blade to break the seal. - A Fairy Tale, They Say, BtVS (Buffy/Spike)
3. Oz’s knuckles burn as he grips the steering wheel. As badly as he wants to let them out, he holds back the tears that have been threatening since Willow walked into his room. He must. He still has one more thing to do before he can leave Sunnydale, one more person to talk to, one more hurdle to get over before he changes his mind about going again. The hard part is over, so it should be easy. - Untied, BtVS (Oz/Willow)
4. Her laughter rings throughout the cottage. “That tickles!” - The Magic of Destiny, Merlin (Balinor/Hunith)
5. “I had that dream again.” - A Different Kind of Magic, Merlin (Merlin/Percival)
6. From the edge of the training field, the clang of sword meeting sword rang in five year-old Arthur's ears like the clarion song of birds first thing in the morning. His blood thrilled. His face hurt from smiling so widely. - Picking Up the Sword, Merlin (Arthur)
7. Percival stands at the door, knowing he should knock, scared of what will happen when he does. Gwaine would laugh at him if he knew. - Leave My Heart at the Door, Merlin (Gwaine/Percival)
8. The email from Morgana came with a link and three words. - Let's Get Personal, Merlin (Merlin/Arthur)
9. "You can't be serious." - Simple and Grand, Merlin (Gwaine/Percival)
10. As the day progressed, Merlin felt the back of his neck get redder and redder. It wasn’t so much seeing the way people would catch his eye, then quickly look away. It was all the whispering they thought couldn’t be heard, the soft sibilance of secrets being passed from one person to the next. - New Kid, Merlin (Merlin/Percival)
11. For the most part, Arthur excused Merlin's tardiness. It felt only right. They'd been through too much together, and if Merlin needed to slip away once in a while to relieve some stress, Arthur couldn't really hold it against him. Complain, yes. Give him a hard time when he invitably showed up, most definitely. But punish him for some much-needed respite? Absolutely not. - In Return, Merlin (Merlin/Percival)
12. Though it was hardly the first time he’d gone out since Gwen’s death, something about Gaius’s retirement party put Arthur into a maudlin mood, almost from the moment they walked through the hall’s doors. Maybe it was the strains of Cliff Richard filtering from deeper inside the building. Gwen’s father had been a fan and almost always had him playing when they visited. Or maybe it was running into so many friends he’d lost touch with over the last three years. - Sharing the Same Truth, Merlin (Arthur/Percival)
13. Icy water sprayed across Arthur’s trousers as the taxi rolled past, soaking him to the skin before he could jump back away from the street. Every expletive he’d ever learned threatened to come out, but he ground his teeth together and moved under the nearest eave to wipe the worst of the slush off. He knew it was futile. The fabric would be ruined, regardless of what he did. But it didn’t stop him from trying. - Like a Song, Merlin (Gwen/Merlin/Arthur)
14. “I think you should come in.” - Count Me In, Merlin (Gen)
15. "You. Are. A. Godsend." - Never Rush a Miracle, Merlin (Merlin/Morgana)
16. Clyde stops taking the painkillers after the second week. - Portable Magic, Logan Lucky (Clyde)
17. “I need a favor.” - Take a Chance, Merlin (Arthur/Gwen)
18. “Balinor!” - Shocks of a Scant Summer, Merlin (Balinor/Hunith)
19. The darkness smothers – but of course, it does, that’s its job – and he cannot breathe let alone see. The only sense to remain trustworthy is his hearing, because there it is, that bark of laughter, the one that sounds like mocking but masks the torture it had taken Merlin too long to discover. - To Suffer Dreams, Merlin (Merlin/Morgana, Merlin/Arthur)
20. Leave it to Morgana to be late to her own party. - Your Familiar, Merlin (Merlin/Morgana)
1. The biggest pattern is a single line of short, untagged dialogue. I do that a lot, both in original and fanfic.
2. Most of the rest are a balance of internal mood and setting the scene using as evocative words as I can manage to grab the reader.
My favorite of all of these is #13, because it both sets the scene with sensory information and detail, and informs about who exactly Arthur is.